Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 27, 2008

OA and the public credibility of science

Peter Murray-Rust, Another reason why Data must be Open, petermr’s blog, June 27, 2008.

Ben Goldacre (The Guardian columnist on “Bad Science”) has unearthed a superb interchange between a scientist [Richard Lenski] and the creationists. ...

Inter alia RL was attacked by the creationists for failing to provide data to support his claims. RL replies that the data were in the paper ...

RL has taken great pains (many pages) to refute the claims of fraud and to assert that the data were visible: BUT this was only possible because the fulltext pf the paper was available:

Imagine what would have happened if RL had replied:

“I am sorry, but the article was published in a closed access journal and I have no rights to make the text , which contains the data , publicly available. You will just have to believe that the reviewers and editors agreed with my arguments and that the data supported it. Or each of you and your acolytes will have to purchase the article at a cost of 30 USD from the publisher. And don’t post it on your website - even just the graphs containing the data - or the publishers will send legal letters to you”.

So, in this case, Open visibility was essential to RL’s successful defence. However the “data not shown” was a potential serious weakness, which was not imposed by the author but by the publication process. Electrons and magnetic disks are infinitely cheaper than “pages” and there is no reason whatever to have “data not shown” in a modern article. ...