Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Blackwell's critique of OA

Back in June, I blogged Virginia Barbour and Mark Patterson's article, Open access: the view of the Public Library of Science, Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 4 (2006) pp. 1450-1453. But I didn't notice that it was part of a debate. Here's the other half:

Andrew Robinson, Open access: the view of a commercial publisher, Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 4 (2006) pp. 1450-1453. Robinson is the Director of Medical Publishing at Blackwell Publishing, which publishes JTH. Excerpt:

Believers in open access (OA) argue that the subscription-based journal model is like a clot blocking the free-flow of scientific research to vital research organs and the public, cutting off the supply of ideas and innovations. But believers in traditional journals argue that, with a single cut, there is a real risk that scientific research will leak in an uncontrolled fashion that would be impossible to stem. The end result will be an undifferentiated pool of unreviewed research, which will, because of its lack of structure, not only halt the diffusion of innovation to the same vital research organs, but also challenge the viability of the whole body by affecting other systems, such as peer review and societies like the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

I will argue for a delicately balanced system that allows research that is published in journals to flow to the organs that need it, rapidly and efficiently. But I will also argue for a process of evolution, not revolution, in a spirit of experimentation, to safeguard what works well now, but also to ensure that neither sustainability nor quality is compromised....

Comment. This is one of the longest anti-OA articles I've seen, perhaps because it compiles just about every tired myth and misunderstanding ever circulated about OA: that OA threatens peer review, that researchers have all the access they need, that lay readers don't need access, that funder OA mandates are primarily intended to serve lay readers, that researchers in developing countries are served as well by HINARI as they would be by OA, that OA journals discriminate against indigent authors, that there is no OA impact advantage, that because OA is not very well-known among reseachers it must not be very desirable, and that the serials pricing crisis is really a problem of library budgets.