Richard Poynder, a distinguished scientific journalist specializing in online-era scientific/scholarly communication and publication, has been the ablest, most prolific and most probing chronicler of the open access movement from its very beginning. He is widely respected for his independence, even-handedness, analysis, careful interviews, and detailed research.
Richard is currently conducting a series of investigations on the peer review practices of some newly formed open access journals and their publishers. In one case, when a publisher would not talk to him privately, Richard made his questions public in the American Scientist Open Access Forum....
That posting elicited public and private threats of a libel suit and accusations of racism....
Those groundless threats and accusations appear to us to be attempts to intimidate. Moreover, Richard is being portrayed as an opponent of open access, which he is not. He is an even-handed, critically minded analyst of the open access movement (among other things), and his critical investigations are healthy for open access.
He has interviewed us both, at length. While the resulting pictures were largely favorable, he didn't hesitate to probe our weaknesses and the objections others have raised to our respective methods or styles of work. This kind of critical scrutiny is essential to a new and fast-growing movement and does not imply hostility to the subjects of his investigation or opposition to open access.
Trying to suppress Richard Poynder's investigations through threats of legal action is contemptible. We hope that the friends of open access in the legal community will attest to the lawfulness of his inquiries and that all friends of open access will attest to the value and legitimacy of his investigative journalism.
Peter Suber and Stevan Harnad
Peter Suber at 10/06/2008 08:43:00 AM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.