Nature came out with a piece today, PLoS stays afloat with bulk publishing: Science-publishing firm struggles to make ends meet with open-access model. The title basically says it all. There have already been some negatives responses, see Mike Dunford, Alex Holcombe, Living the Scientific Life, Greg Laden, Jonathan Eisen, Drug Monkey and Frontal Blogotomy. I won’t really get into the details here. I think the article makes some good factual points, but they’re stitched together in a manner to depict PLoS in a rather unfavorable light. The kicker of course is that Nature has some major conflicts of interest here.’
But at the end of the day: what’s good for science? It seems that the Open Access controversy is mostly focused around the life sciences. Is physics dead in the water because of arXiv? For many of the social sciences such as economics “working papers” are circulating for years and invariably sitting on someone’s servers as PDFs if not on the Social Science Research Network site. Perhaps in the life sciences because of the possibility of patents and the bioethical ramifications a “gated” model is more natural, but I’m skeptical. It isn’t as if someone with the inclination can’t just go down to the local college library and find what they need to engage in tje nefarious activities that publishing houses are claiming Open Access will enable. At the end of the day it isn’t about PLoS, just as file sharing wasn’t about Napster. It seems likely that we are in an age of creative destruction in regards to content distribution models. You can deny it, but I doubt you can stop it. Evolve or go extinct, those are the two alternatives in capitalism….
(Keep track of responses via technorati)