Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Walt Crawford on PRISM

The October issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online.  This issue contains a lengthy section on Library Access to Scholarship, entirely devoted to PRISM and titled, "PRISM: Enough Rope?"  He starts with verbatim quotations from the PRISM press release and my same-day blog comments, and then follows with a look at the PRISM principles and a wide-ranging set of comments from scholars, librarians, and publishers.  Excerpt from his own comments:

...What’s going on here? Nothing terribly surprising, if a touch disappointing. AAP hired a bulldog PR person whose advice was to keep hammering on simple points even if they were known to be deceptive. AAP created a new “coalition” that appears to be carrying out the bulldog’s advice. If you pay good money for advice, you’re inclined to take that advice.

Nonsense like this couldn’t happen at all except for one unfortunate truism of open access, both within the academy and (I’m afraid) within librarianship. That truism: Most people just don’t care. But that’s a separate essay…maybe next time around....

Within a couple of days of the PRISM news release, at least one AAP/PSP member had opted out. Mike Rossner of Rockefeller University Press sent an open letter to AAP [asking for] "a disclaimer...on the PRISM website indicating that the views presented on the site do not necessarily reflect those of all members of the AAP."...So far, I’ve been unable to find any such disclaimer on the PRISM site. That means the so-called coalition is explicitly failing to pay attention to its own members....

Brian Crawford ingenuously said “We did not expect to have encountered the sort of criticism we have seen thus far” and claimed that PRISM was “a way to have a very productive dialogue.” ...

There are two long pieces you must read in the original. I can’t do justice to either one in a summary. Those two pieces will conclude this sad story as well as anything. PRISM is a stunt—an underhanded stunt that may have been predictable. I believe it’s a stunt that will backfire badly. I hope it will have the effect of alerting scholars and librarians to the sheer deviousness of some (certainly not all) scholarly publishers and to the need for reform within the scholarly communication system. Open access may not be all of that reform, but it’s a significant part of it.

That said, go readWatch your language” by Alma Swan, posted September 4, 2007 at OptimalScholarship, an impassioned commentary by one who finds herself “very sad and, secondarily, disappointed.” After that, read Issue 113 of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. The prime essay, “Will open access undermine peer review?” runs 12 single-spaced pages and offers well-documented, detailed discussion of the strawman that PRISM and other anti-OA forces keep raising again and again and again.