Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Because you are here and reading this blog, I assume that you value being informed about science and having the opportunity to access original research articles yourself, if you so choose. However, not everyone agrees that providing the public access to this information is important, nevermind that most of this research is paid for by the public with their tax dollars. PRISM, the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine, is a group of scientific and medical activists who are fighting against Open Access (OA) for research articles. They claim that, by keeping access to research closed to the public that they are “preserv[ing] the integrity of America’s scholarly research.”

How do they claim that OA endangers scientific and medical research?

  • undermining the peer review process by compromising the viability of non-profit and commercial journals that manage and fund it;
  • opening the door to scientific censorship in the form of selective additions to or omissions from the scientific record;
  • subjecting the scientific record to the uncertainty that comes with changing federal budget priorities and bureaucratic meddling with definitive versions; and
  • introducing duplication and inefficiencies that will divert resources that would otherwise be dedicated to research.

But nowhere do they explain how OA to research causes all these listed damages.

Who is PRISM? If you look around on the site, you will learn that they are the Executive Council of the Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and their stated goal is to educate policy makers and the American people about the risks posed by government intervention in scholarly publishing. Basically, it appears to me that this is an old boyz network who are determined to protect their turf: selling access to scientific information to academics and to the public.

Peter Suber has a more detailed analysis of what PRISM wants to do.


  1. #1 none given
    August 26, 2007

    It looks like the also stole the gettyimages pic on their front page, since it’s still watermarked.

  2. #2 Kevin Z
    August 27, 2007

    lmao, good observation. I just thought it was a pic of RPM pretending to work.

    So it appears that PRISM is benefitting from open access images, or are they only image thiefs (possibly even bandwidth thiefs depending on how there image is uploaded!). Either way they are hypocrites or thieves, unless the off chance they got permission to use a watermarked image.

  3. #3 leah
    August 29, 2007

    Yes, it turns out they did steal their homepage images.
    There’s a comic about it, and link to articles here:
    By yesterday afternoon they actually got around to paying for the images thus removing the watermark.

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