Article on OA in the Globe and Mail

Turning the ivory tower into an open book, 21 July 2007, by Elizabeth Church, an education reporter for The Globe and Mail.

Mostly, it’s an accurate and informative article.

However, two excerpts did catch my eye. The first:

Imagine, for example, that you are a researcher who discovers a link between pesticide use and cancer or between higher ocean temperatures and the level of fish stocks. How much would you be willing to pay to get those findings out to anyone who wants them? Would it be worth spending a hundred dollars? A few thousand?

It’s implied that the costs of OA are high, and must be paid for by the producer of the research. Green OA, via self-archiving, gets minimal attention. There’s mention of PubMed Central, “a digital library of peer-reviewed manuscripts“, and the comment that: “Several universities are following suit by posting archived faculty work“.

The second excerpt that caught my eye:

And what will become of the big publishers such as Springer? Mr. Velterop insists that open access will never have the clout of traditional houses. It’s like the difference between a Marks & Spencer suit and an Armani, he argues – journals cost a lot because the peer-review process is expensive, time-consuming and complicated.

It’s implied that no OA journals have high impact factors, and that the major difference between OA journals and traditional ones is “the peer review process“. Of course, both implications are incorrect. The latter one appears to be an example of the use of the advice, attributed to Eric Dezenhall, that “publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review“. See: PR’s ‘pit bull’ takes on open access, by Jim Giles (Nature, 24 Jan 2007). This example of the use of such advice is a somewhat surprising one, because it’s attributed to Springer’s Jan Velterop, who was a former director and publisher (until April 2005) of BioMed Central, an OA publisher. He knows very well that BioMed Central’s OA journals utilize peer review processes.

The article can also be reached via a Google search for “Turning the ivory tower” Church Globe. A Letter to Editor about the article can be submitted. (I’m not planning to submit one, because I think that, overall, the article is quite supportive of the OA movement).

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