Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More on the ACS position on OA

Bob Michaelson, The American Chemical Society and Open Access, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Winter 2008.  Excerpt:

...Unfortunately, serious conversation [about OA] is ill-served by some publishers’ strategies, including, regrettably, those pursued by the American Chemical Society.

Editorials in Chemical & Engineering News as far back as 2004 denounced OA as "socialized science" -- whatever that is supposed to mean. In 2005 Nobel Laureate Robert J. Richards published an open letter announcing his resignation from ACS out of disgust at the Society's opposition to OA.

In January 2007 Nature (445, 25 January 2007, 347) reported that ACS was among a group of members of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) that hired "pit bull" Eric Dezenhall to attack the Open Access movement. Dezenhall advised the publishers to focus on simple messages (more honestly: simple-minded dissembling slogans), such as "public access equals government censorship." Indeed, ACS senior Vice President Brian Crawford told Nature,"[w]hen any government or funding agency houses and disseminates for public consumption only the work it itself funds, that constitutes a form of selection and self-promotion of that entity's interests."  By mid-2007 Dezenhall had founded PRISM ("Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine" – "integrity" is presumably used in the Rovian sense), launched by the Executive Council of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the AAP. This organization proceeded to make, without evidence or plausibility, claims about OA presaged in the Nature account:  that it could "undermine the peer review process" and even "open the door to scientific censorship in the form of selective additions to or omissions from the scientific record." Such ludicrous claims led a number of publishers, including Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Columbia University Press, and University of Chicago Press, to disavow PRISM (see e.g. [the Eureka Journal Watch entry on PRISM).

If the ACS regrets its association with PRISM's misstatements, they don’t show it....

If the ACS is to be a party to discussions of OA, they must stop getting their policy advice from PR flacks and start making rational contributions to the discourse. Otherwise they will continue to poison the waters, and deservedly will be accorded no credence.