Monday, January 29, 2007

Dirty, dirty PR guy taking on open-access information

Free information is threatening traditional journal publishers. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) would apparently, rather charge $14,000 (not kidding at all) for a year's subscription to an Elsevier publication* than share that knowledge with the world, and they have hired a dirty hired gun to go after the open access movement.

"Although Dezenhall declines to comment on Skilling and his other clients, his firm, Dezenhall Resources, was also reported by Business Week to have used money from oil giant ExxonMobil to criticize the environmental group Greenpeace. "He's the pit bull of public relations," says Kevin McCauley, an editor at the magazine O'Dwyer's PR Report.

Now, Nature has learned, a group of big scientific publishers has hired the pit bull to take on the free-information movement, which campaigns for scientific results to be made freely available. Some traditional journals, which depend on subscription charges, say that open-access journals and public databases of scientific papers such as the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) PubMed Central, threaten their livelihoods." LINK

*fact: Biochemica et Biophysica Acta (published by Elsevier) averaged 300 pages in the 1990s; today they are averaging 200 pages. Price in 1993 was $7,700; this year we paid $14,000. (source: R.Wilson, UC Berkeley Library) LINK

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