Association of American Publishers' Anti-Open-Access Lobby: PRISM

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 21:50:12 +0100

    ** Cross-Posted: For a fully hyperlinked version of this posting, see:

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has just launched "PRISM"
(Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine).

PRISM is an anti-OA lobbying organization, to counteract the accelerating
growth of OA and the dramatic success of the pro-OA Alliance for Taxpayer
Access (ATA) lobbying organization in the US and the EC Open Access
Petition in Europe.

See Peter Suber's splendid, measured critique of PRISM's statements in
Open Access News (more to come in Peter's September SPARC Open Access

The blogosphere is also on the case. (See especially this brilliant
caricature of the publishing lobby's arguments here:

Unlike the pro-OA lobby, which has a huge and growing public support
base worldwide, the anti-OA lobby is up against the problem that it has
neither a public support constituency, nor any ethical or practical case
to build one on. It is simply an industry trying to favor its corporate
interests over the public interest without quite saying so. Hence PRISM
is now applying, quite literally, the "pit-bull" tactics recommended to
them by the PR firm of Eric Dezenhall.

The recommended tactics are to pretend that OA (i) represents government
interference in both the corporate sector and the research sphere and
that it (ii) puts both peer-review and scientific quality at risk.

Although the bickering and blogging and spinning on this will be
frenetic, the actual issues behind it are extremely simple:

    (1) Open Access (OA) (free online access to peer-reviewed
research) maximizes access to research findings. It thereby also
maximizes the uptake, usage, and application of research findings,
hence research productivity and progress.

    (2) OA is therefore in the best interests of research,
researchers, research institutions (universities), research funders
(private and governmental), the vast R&D industry, and the tax-paying
public that funds the research and the research institutions, and for
whose benefit the research is being conducted.

    (3) OA might, however, be in conflict with the best interests of
the peer-reviewed journal publishing industry, as it might reduce
their subscription revenues or even eventually force them to downsize
and change their cost-recovery model from subscription charges paid by
the user-institution to peer-review service charges paid by the
author-institution. (So far none of this has happened, but with the
growth of OA, it might.)

    (4) OA can grow in two ways:

        Gold OA: publishers can make research OA by becoming OA publishers
        -- by providing OA to their online versions and/or converting
        to the OA cost-recovery model -- or,

        Green OA: Researchers and their institutions can make research
        OA by self-archiving their own peer-reviewed journal articles
        in their institutional or discipline-based repositories.

    (5) Researchers' institutions and funders cannot mandate the
transition of publishers to Gold OA, but they can mandate their own
transition to Green OA.

****(6) Hence it is these Green OA mandates, being adopted and
proposed worldwide, that are the real target of the anti-OA lobby.****

    (7) The anti-OA lobby's argument against OA and OA mandates is
that they represent (7a) government interference in private-sector
industry and (7b) they will destroy peer-reviewed journals,
peer-review, and the research quality that peer-review certifies.

    (8) The reply is very simple:

        (8a) Inasmuch as research is publicly funded, it is for the
funders to decide the conditions under which that public money is

        (8b) it is also up to the universities to decide on the
conditions under which their employees publish their findings;

        (8c) peer review is done by researchers for free; publishers
merely fund the management of the peer review process;

        (8d) if and when subscription demand can no longer sustain the
cost of managing peer review, that cost can be covered through a
conversion to the Gold OA cost-recovery model, with the OA
institutional repositories themselves providing all the access and the
archiving, and the Gold OA journals merely managing the peer review
and certifying its outcome with their name.

That's all there is to it: The online era has made possible an obvious
benefit for research, and the publishing lobby is trying to resist
adapting to it. What needs to be kept clearly in mind is that research
is not conducted and funded as a service to the publishing industry,
but vice versa.

Fortunately, the very openness of the online era is to the benefit of
the pro-OA lobby, as the specious arguments of the anti-OA lobby can
be openly exposed and answered rather than being left to be voiced
solely in closed corridors (lobbies), where their obvious rebuttals
cannot be promptly echoed in reply.

    Berners-Lee, T., De Roure, D., Harnad, S. and Shadbolt, N. (2005)
Open Letter to Research Councils UK: Rebuttal of ALPSP Critique.

    ________ (2005) Journal publishing and author self-archiving:
Peaceful Co-Existence and Fruitful Collaboration.

    Harnad, S. (2005) Critique of ALPSP'S 1st Response to RCUK's Open
Access Self-Archiving Proposal.

    ________ (2005) Rebuttal of STM Response to RCUK Self-Archiving
Policy Proposal.

    ________ (2005) Applying Optimality Findings: A Critique of Graham
Taylor's Critique of RCUK Policy Proposal.

    ________ (2006) Critique of EPS/RIN/RCUK/DTI "Evidence-Based
Analysis of Data Concerning Scholarly Journal Publishing".

    ________ (2006) How to Counter All Opposition to the FRPAA
Self-Archiving Mandate

    ________ (2006) Critique of AAP/PSP Critique of FRPAA Proposal

    A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy

    Guide for the Perplexed: Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry

    Critique of PSP/AAP Critique of NIH Proposal

    Critique of STM Critique of NIH Proposal

    Critique of Stanford/HighWire Press Critique of NIH Proposal

    Critique of PSP/AAP Critique of NIH Proposal

    Critique of APS Critique of NIH Proposal

    Please Don't Copy-Cat Clone NIH-12 Non-OA Policy!

    Journal Publishing and Author Self-Archiving:
    Peaceful Co-Existence and Fruitful Collaboration
    Critique of Research Fortnight article on RCUK policy proposal

    Not a Proud Day in the Annals of the Royal Society

    Feedback on the Brussels EC Meeting on Open Access

    The Immediate-Deposit/Optional Access (ID/OA) Mandate:
    Rationale and Model

    Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates:
    What? Where? When? Why? How?

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt a policy of providing Open Access
to your own research article output, please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("Green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("Gold"): Publish your article in an open-access journal if/when
    a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
    in your own institutional repository.
Received on Wed Aug 29 2007 - 22:31:14 BST

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