Academic publishers prepare for dirty war against Open Access

September 22nd, 2007 by Gabriel Bodard

According to an article published in this week’s New Scientist (full article requires sub):

An unexpected package arrived on my desk earlier this year. The sender did not give a name, and the return address was false. Inside were copies of emails between senior staff at major scientific publishing houses. They were discussing a surprising topic: plans to hire Eric Dezenhall, a public relations guru who has organised attacks on environmental groups, represented an Enron chief, and authored the book Nail ‘Em! [...]

Leaked emails and controversial characters like Dezenhall are not normally associated with the staid world of academic journals, but the big publishers are getting a little spooked. Over the past decade, researchers have started to demand that scientific results be set free. [...] This is not a message that all publishers want to hear.

This is, I suppose, not terribly surprising to hear when there is money to be made and lost; those benefiting from the status quo will always fight against any revolution or paradigm shift, but this doesn’t mean that change should or can be stopped. Some academic publishing houses have apparently already protested at the dirty arguments that the AAP are circulating in the name of their membership. In the end, as this article argues, I don’t see how this campaign can actually stop Open Access publishing from becoming huge–but it can, of course, affect US executive decisions.

If you don’t have access to the full New Scientist article, see the following NS blog post, which has links to some of the leaked material as well as other references.

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