OA Wars and Rapid-Response Blogging

It’s a truism of the political process that no attack should go unanswered for more than a few hours. Bloggers on IP issues are getting the message, especially in the hotly contested area of open access to scientific and medical research. Currently many publishers of such articles can lock up access to them for decades–even if taxpayers paid for the underlying research. This situation has led to increasing calls for open-access publishing, and some legislative proposals.

The Association of American Publishers has launched a vigorous lobbying campaign in response, relying on dubious assumptions about the nature of the peer review process. The attacks have led to bizarre headlines like “Open-Access or Peer Review,” a false dichotomy if there ever was one. The author of that article reassures us that “although the people behind Federal Research Public Access Act have good intentions, the market is already doing its part to disseminate information as quickly and widely as possible.” Little if any attention is paid to exorbitantly priced journals, enormous science publisher profts, publishers’ potential irrelevance to an open-access peer review process, and how high prices and DRM can interfere with effective post-publication peer review and organization of data.

Fortunately, blogs like Peter Suber’s now provide almost instant responses to publishers’ efforts to derail open access to research publications. As part of Public Knowledge, Suber is doing a terrific job providing fair and thoughtful responses to industry lobbying. He has become a “must-read’ source for anyone writing on the OA issue.

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