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January 24, 2007
Nature's Expose on Publisher's Tactics to Rout Open Access
Jim Giles, writing in a column in Nature (Vol 445, January 25, 2007, pg 347) reveals that a major group of sci-tech publishers (reportedly Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society) has hired a pit-bull PR firm to advise them on how to best combat the Open Access movement, particularly PubMed Central. Reportedly the publishers are spending up to a half-million dollars for the advice of Dezenhall Resources, a group that has had as clients in the past such illustrious folks as Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron chief. According to the Nature article, Denzenhall is advising the publishers to give out the message that
“Public access equals government censorship”. He hinted that the publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review, and “paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles”. Read the full news item in Nature.
Commenting on the Nature Report, Peter Suber says in Open Access News:
- I've read this several times and still find it incredible. Why would the AAP pay $300-500k for advice on how to misrepresent the issue? The next time you see an AAP press release on OA, ask yourself this question.
- Does the AAP even need the advice? It has been falsely identifying government archiving with government censorship, and falsely identifying threats to publisher revenue with threats to peer review, at least since the debate over the NIH policy in 2004. For a more recent example, see its May 2006 public statement opposing FRPAA. (Also see my rebuttal.)
- I hope that publisher-members of the AAP will disavow these tactics and that journalists and policy-makers will understand the difference between intellectual debate and media massage.
- Kudos to Nature for uncovering and reporting this story.
Posted by Katie Newman at January 24, 2007 1:41 PM