Monday, September 17, 2007

PRISM: not ready for peer review

According to Peter Suber on Open Access News, PRISM, the latest anti-OA lobbying campaign launched by a branch of the Professional and Society Publishers (PSP) branch of the Association of American Publishers, has made some changes to their website.

No wonder! This is a grassroots campaign that isn't exactly taking off. The "About PRISM" page says who PRISM was established by, but lists no specific endorsements.

This is in contrast, of course, to the numerous public non-endorsements and statements of non-affiliation, including:

the request by Rockfeller University Press publicly asking for a disclaimer on the PRISM website saying that this does not reflect the views of all AAP members, including Rockefeller;

Cambridge University Press's Stephen Bourne wrote: heard about PRISM launch for the first time last week, from which you will understand that Cambridge University Press has in no way been involved in, or consulted on, the PRISM initiative (thanks to Peter Murray-Rust).

one of the authors whose work was cited on the original site post, Rick Anderson publicly stated his Nonaffliation with PRISM,

a message that received a reply from the President of the American Association of University Presses, Sandy Thatcher, who stated that "Interestingly, PRISM does NOT link to my paper in Learned Publishing on open access or to the AAUP Statement on Open Access of which my paper is an expansion. Therein lies a mystery.... (especially since Penn State is a member of PSP, though I do not endorse everything that PSP initiates, including PRISM). From: Liblicense.

Will there be a mad rush to endorse the newly revised PRISM site? Hmmm, let's see:

From the PRISM welcome page:
PRISM expresses concerns about the unintended consequences of unfunded government mandates
Any publisher that signs on to this one is biting the hand that feeds them!. Publishers benefit enormously from the privilege of being able to earn a little profit from the results of research funded by the public, for the public interest. Not only that, the US National Institutes of Health is already paying substantially for publishing charges, to the tune of $30 million per year or an average of close to $500 per article, and may be paying more than enough already to fund a fully open access publishing system for NIH-funded research. For details, see my blogpost, NIH Public Access Policy: is the funding for an OA Transition Already There?

Would the PRISM New Approaches page pass peer review? Not at my journal!*
Each year, more than a million peer-reviewed articles are published in some 16,000 scholarly journals managed by over 2,000 scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishers, both commercial and not-for-profit.

The PRISM New Approaches page fails to mention that
1. there are now over 2,800 fully open access peer-reviewed journals, and that new titles are being added to the Directory of Open Access Journals at the rate of more than one per calendar day.
2. many journals are providing free access to back issues of journals, a New Approach that many of the members of the PSP division themselves are doing
3. If over a million peer-reviewed articles per year are involved in total, then the 60-65,000 produced thanks to NIH-funded research forms less than 1% of the total. Not exactly a risk undermining the very fabric of the system of independent, formal peer-reviewed publication, is it?

While the polemic is somewhat less in the latest PRISM effort, the same fundamental errors are there. For details and more links, see Peter Suber's blog.

Thanks, for noting the changes, Peter! It is important to keep track of previous versions, and how they relate to the advice provided by PR pitbull Eric Dezenhall.

* Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, for which I serve as Editor, Theory / Research.