Archive for October, 2015

It’s suddenly all so clear…

‘Open access’ — this strange idea which sounds so innocuous, or so empowering even, and which has been propagated by certain powers that be so that suddenly gullible academics everywhere are talking about it as though this is an inevitable development– is doublespeak.  It pretends to ”open access” to science publications… to whom?  To a ‘larger public.’  (How many members of the public need access to highly technical/specialized knowledge at this level?)   But it’s actually a move by savvy players to create a ‘knoweledge aristocracy’.  Or, if you like, it is a deliberate use of the language of the free market, by a group of power players who are attempting to mask a monopolistic power grab (This is a favorite tactic of marketers working for large, monopolistic companies).

To explain, some background.

So a U Kansas distinguished professor (A. Townsend Peterson) writes in the Huffington post about the ‘good and the bad’ of open access journals.

The bad:  an obviously flawed article was sent to 304 open access journals by the journal Science, and it was accepted by over half of them.  So duh, this reveals that a lot of open-access journals are for-profit scams.  This seems screamingly obvious.

The good:  A. T. P. then tells us that ”the serious open access journals are very likely an important part of the future of academic publishing, so we should nurture them.”  His direct quote is this:

“These journals likely represent an important element in the future of academic publishing, so we should do our best to protect them and nurture them, while discouraging the predatory and shoddy editorial practices on the part of some. After all, let’s keep our eye on the prize: an open, inclusive, and effective system of scientific communication.”

Who paid A.T.P. to suggest that ‘we should protect and nurture them?’  For goodness sake, shouldn’t we be nurturing, say, our young faculty members?  The future generation of scientists?  How often do senior professors publicly say that?  But back to the main point.  Do we really need these OA journals that are so in need of nurturing?

First of all, some people seem to forget that what makes good science prestigious, is that it is reviewed by top peers, at top journals.  The whole function of journals is to winnow the chaff from the wheat, and provide us with the wheat.  If we wanted the chaff, we could just do a google search!  And no real science would get done – every tom, dick, and henrietta could voice their opinion, and with no editorial function, no one could tell the noise from the music.   (more…)

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