As noted around the science blogosphere, something wicked this way comes. PRISM, or the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (created by the Association of American Publishers), is setting up a strawman argument against Open Access publications, claiming that the tradition of peer review is under attack. Open Access, such as PLOS journals and other initiatives, make it easier for people to have access to the research that they, as taxpayers, implicitly fund. Wouldn’t you like to know what you are paying for, and whether it benefits your life? Wouldn’t you like scientists to have free and easy access to published results so we can use accumulated knowledge rather than burying it?
PRISM’s issue is this: if more and more research is made open access (ie, free) how will traditional publishers make any money? The concern is legitamate, but the hoopla, rhetoric, and obfuscation shown on their website suggests that they would rather bend the facts to create a non-issue (that peer review is under attack) rather than face a more real, but less sympathetic issue (how to keep making money). Their main beef seems to be the nebulous threat of “government interference,” specifically that the government would like open access to the research that, ya know, it pays for. GASP.
This is bothersome, because I think that a real conversation could be had between ‘old school’ publishers and open-access publishers without running to a slick PR firm. It seems that the Association of American Publishers would rather the issue be weighed in the court of mis-informed public opinion rather than in the light of day, where both monetary concerns can be considered along with what is paramount to the scientific endeavor.
Bora at A Blog Around the Clock has the most comprehensive list of opinions on this topic, I suggest you go check it out.