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Re: Just who is on the defensive?
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Re: Just who is on the defensive?
- From: JOHANNES VELTEROP <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2007 17:42:22 EST
- Reply-to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sender: email@example.com
PR battles like this are extremely unsophisticated; perhaps that's in their nature. As a publisher, I wouldn't want to be associated with rather rabid sound-bites such as "Public access equals government censorship" The issue shouldn't be -- and for most clear-thinking publishers isn't -- about OA yea or nea. It is about the fundamentally problematic idea of mandating access to the formally published literature without willing to provide in any way for payment for the work that the process of elevating author drafts (treated as pretty 'worthless' by the academic community until formally published) to the formal, official literature, the record of science, or as I used to call it, the 'Minutes of Science', entails. The argument that subbscriptions would not suffer, because librarians would continue to support journals financially is a bogus argument, and reduces formal science publising to scrambling for alms to sustain its function. Perhaps that's the idea, but it ain't a recipe for a reliable, sustainable, and stable system of science publishing. Open access is fine. Not just fine; it's better than the subscription system. But like any useful activity in society, it needs an economic basis. Given the benefits of open access, an argument might even be made that its increased utility would justify a higher price. The mandates that are being considered, however, aim to remove (perhaps not by intention, but as an unintended consequence) any economic basis. That's the issue. Not OA or NOA. Those who do not think a system of formal publication of research results is needed, are free to do so and publish their articles informally on their web sites, or any other web sites that would have the material, for that matter. They don't need a publisher (at least not for their own stuff) and, to be blunt, they shouldn't bother a publisher with any request to have their paper officially published and given the 'value' tags that the scientific community wants to see before any article is properly recognised. Requiring a publisher to do this work and at the same time arguing that the publisher shouldn't be paid but just should go begging for his money (the alms-race: http://theparachute.blogspot.com/2006/06/alms-race.html) is, frankly, a form of intellectual dishonesty. Jan Velterop Original Message ---- From: Phil Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Sent: Thursday, 25 January, 2007 11:55:51 PM Subject: Re: Just who is on the defensive? David Goodman wrote: "Now as quick comment to start off, their PR advisor has chosen what are perhaps the weakest arguments against open access.... "Public access equals government censorship" Honestly, I've been wondering what took the big publishers so long to react. They've allowed the pro-OA side to frame the debate, control language, and even create a lobbying organization. No wonder why they are defensive and going out for professional help! Rhetorical positions about transparency of government, accountability, public interest, and social justice are very powerful and have been used astutely. Censorship, on the other hand, is a dirty word and most academics have an immediate negative reaction to this term, which is why it will be used. Dezehnall's group will undoubtedly find other negative associations, the right language, and the right frame for a big media campaign. They are very good at this. The debate over Open Access, like the debate over abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, taxation, and other controversial topics create polarized groups for the very reason that their arguments are grounded in different value-systems. This is why Dezenhall's PR group is attempting to associate the OA debate with some deeply held values of scientists. David Goodman may be right about the weakness of this argument, but "Media messaging is not the same as intellectual debate." Phil Davis, PhD Student Dept. of Communication, Cornell University