Open Access and Online Publishing

Jeremy Butler's picture
An interesting debate popped up on Slashdot yesterday that is pertinent to MediaCommons and its goals. Its headline is "Libraries Defend Open Access." In specific, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is battling the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine (PRISM), a PR/lobbying front for the Association of American Publishers (AAP). ARL recently released an "Issue Brief" (in PDF format) that outlines PRISM's campaign of disinformation about online, open-access publishing and provides justifications to counter its arguments. (Even PRISM's name is a model of disinformation -- claiming as it does to defend "research integrity"!) In sum, the ARL argues that PRISM's talking points are:
  • Public access to federally funded research and/or open access equates to the destruction of the peer review system.
  • Public access equals government censorship.
  • The government is trying to steal publishers’ intellectual property.
ARL responds at length to these arguments (please see this PDF for more details), but here are a few excerpts:
  • Journal publishers do not create the content they publish, nor do they generally pay authors for that content or compensate reviewers for the time they spend ensuring the quality of published research through their contributions to the peer review process. The academy supports and provides the peer review.
  • Existing and proposed policies concerning public access to federally funded research attempt to create balance between the contributions made and benefits received by publishers and allow them to continue to profit tremendously from the pool of content this funded research generates.
Much of this debate -- particularly the emphasis on government grant-funded research -- has less relevance to humanities research than it does to the sciences, but the arguments regarding peer review are central to all disciplines. I highly recommend taking a look at both the Slashdot discussion and the ARL's Issue Brief for more about this essential topic.


Kathleen Fitzpatrick's picture

Thanks for posting this,

Thanks for posting this, Jeremy, and for linking to the very interesting slashdot discussion. I find myself astonished, once again, by the “public access equals government censorship” angle of PRISM’s position — it’s exactly the same point as the big telecoms are making in attempting to get rid of net neutrality, isn’t it? That the free movement of information through the internet is equal to government censorship?