The bad news is "AAAS Names New Science Publisher", the good news is Walt Crawford's Open Access Trilogy

It seems that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has just announced the new publisher of it's flagship family of Science journals:

AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner today announced the appointment of Kent Anderson, a past president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SPP), to serve as Publisher of the Science family of journals.

Anderson, who in 2011 received the SPP's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, will assume the role of Science Publisher as of 3 November.

Currently, he is the CEO and Publisher of STRIATUS/The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in Needham, Massachusetts, where he oversees a staff of directors in advertising, marketing, business development, administration, product development, and product line management.

"AAAS and Science have held to high standards while pursuing the vanguard of scientific communication worldwide," Anderson said regarding his appointment. "I am extremely proud to join such a talented, thoughtful, and ambitious organization. I look forward to helping to move the Science family of journals further into the vanguard of scientific communication, with an immediate goal of supporting the launch of the association's new, open-access, online-only journal, Science Advances."


Among Anderson's initial challenges as Science Publisher will be the launch of the nonprofit association's first open-access title, Science Advances — a strategy for increasing the volume of peer-reviewed research published by AAAS. As a member of the AAAS leadership team, Anderson also will play a key role in the association's Transformation Initiative, a far-reaching effort to enhance engagement with members and to ensure that the Science journals continue to provide leadership in science communication.

I also note that little bit at the end of what I quote, that one of Anderson's initial challenges will be the launching of open access journal Science Advances.

My post title frames this announcement as bad news, which on the surface is a bit odd as the launch of on OA journal from the AAAS should be good news. However, what would otherwise be happiness is tempered by worry. New publisher Kent Anderson is most well known in the open access world for his role at the Scholarly Kitchen group blog where he has flown the anti-OA flag pretty consistently over the last several years. Zen Faulkes has a bit more on that here.

Needless to say, the reaction on Twitter has been pretty negative.

I guess there are two ways this could go, of course. One being a "fox in the chicken coop" scenario where any open access initiatives at the AAAS will be delayed, discounted or sabotaged. As well, my fear is that the tenor of OA commentary at an important outlet like the Science journals could be even more poisoned than it already is (more on that in a moment). Science is hugely important and for many very busy researchers it might be one of the only places they get commentary of scholarly communications issues.

Of course, the other option is a mythical "Only Nixon could have gone to China"-type revolution at Science where OA will blossom as never before. Like all mythology, I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to come true.

The good news is that there is a lot of very good commentary about open access out there, an awful lot of it by Walt Crawford in his online publication Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large.

So by way of antidote, I thought I'd highlight Crawford's very fine research and commentary on OA -- including his recent demolishing of the Bohannon OA sting published in Science a while back. Which brings us back to the first part of this post. Science and it's role in spreading OA fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Personally, I think a good first step for Anderson might be some honest reflection and commentary about the sting in light of the reaction it has provoked.

And here's Walt Crawford's Open Access Trilogy: Two taking a critical look at the idea of predatory open access journals and one exposing the "sting":

Ethics and Access 1: The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall (direct link)

The saga of Jeffrey Beall going from self-appointed investigator into “predatory” open access publishers and journals (and, notably, only OA journals) to ludicrous analyst of serials pricing and the reasons for OA–and beyond that to denouncing OA and its advocates? It’s an odd story, and my version includes some really good ideas on avoiding sketchy journals (mostly from a notoriously worthwhile pseudonymous feathered library type) without buying into vigilantism.


Ethics and Access 2: The So-Called Sting (direct link)

John Bohannon wrote a news article in Science that either shows that many open access journals with APC charges have sloppy (or no) peer review…or shows almost nothing at all. This story discusses the article itself, offers a number of responses to it–and then adds something I don’t believe you’ll find anywhere else: A journal-by-journal test of whether the journals involved would pass a naive three-minute sniff test as to whether they were plausible targets for article submissions without lots of additional checking. Is this really a problem involving a majority of hundreds of journals–or maybe one involving 27% (that is, 17) of 62 journals? Read the story; make up your own mind.


Journals, “Journals” and Wannabes: Investigating the List (direct link)

Jeffrey Beall’s 4P (potential, probable, possible predatory) publisher and journal lists total 9,219 journals in early April 2014.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) totals 9.822 journals as of early June 2014.

9,219 is 93.9% of 9,822.

But: 90.8% of the journals in DOAJ are not represented in Beall’s lists.

A paradox? Not really.

This special issue does something I don’t believe has ever been done before (and is unlikely ever to be done again): looks at every journal from every publisher on Beall’s lists to see whether they’re plausible predators–whether they could reasonably attract any sensible author.

Yes, I even used a control group: members of the OASPA. And two subject groups from DOAJ as secondary control groups.

What’s here? A discussion of my methodology (of course); the results; the control-group results; the subject-group results; some notes on “the name game” (anyone want to help start up International Journal of International Journals?); a few notes from some “publisher” sites; some comments on fee vs. free; discussing real and possible predators–and a list of potentially predatory characteristics of subscription journal publishers; a couple of other issues; and some conclusions, including a new and faster “Is this a reasonable journal?” methodology.

There are also related materials from Crawford available through Cites & Insights Books.

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