PRISM: Something Wicked This Way Comes?

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.

More like this

When technological or social changes start altering the business landscape in a particular industry, people involved in that business tend to respond in three general ways. The visionaries immediately see where their world is going, jump to the front edge of it and make sure that the change is as…
Anger abound in the blogosphere at the PRISM organization, or Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine. As one could guess from reading the braintrust of a guy who worked with ENRON jailbird Jeff Skilling, SPECTRE PRISM is long on rhetoric and completely lacking in data. When I…
PRISM (or the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine) is a lobby against Open Access (OA) put together by the The Association of American Publishers (or AAP). Most Science Publishers are members of AAP, but since the unveiling of PRISM (and of their website) now many publishers…
This is all over the blogosphere already, but since I occasionally blog about open access issues, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the controversy over a new anti-open access organization called PRISM. The go-to post on this topic is at A Blog Around the Clock, where Bora is collecting…

It's called 'disruptive innovation'. See The Innovator's Dilema, by Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School; one of the best-selling business books of the 1990s.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/002-1395074-0816840?initialSearch=…

The answer to PRISM's question of how the traditional publishers will make money? They won't and will eventually go out of business unless their finger-in-the-dike rear-guard action succeeds in holding back the flood.

sound like they are following the the movie and CD business
It easier to call in the PR and Lawyers than to change the business model. Now if something could be done about the IEEE standards and the AMA ownership of CPT.....

By john hawkins (not verified) on 28 Aug 2007 #permalink

Yeah paper based publishing is on its way out and these companies are simply fighting it tooth and nail.

Scientific publishing is an odd beast, because those who actually provide the content (scientists), and those who moderate the content (editors), are not paid for doing so. So the companies are merely providing the distribution, printing, and web-hosting. Take distribution and printing out and all of a sudden you have something rather cheap comparatively to run.

By Tim Marzullo (not verified) on 28 Aug 2007 #permalink

We should not halt innovation and progress because of some misplaced nostalgia for archaic methods that have been rendered irrelevant by technological advance.