04 May 2009

Another Reason We Need Open Access

One of the more laughable reasons that traditional science publishers cite in their attempts to rubbish open access is that it's somehow not so rigorous as "their" kind of publishing. There's usually a hint that standards might be dropped, and that open access journals aren't, well, you know, quite proper.

And then this comes along:

The Scientist has reported that, yes, it's true, Merck cooked up a phony, but real sounding, peer reviewed journal and published favorably looking data for its products in them. Merck paid Elsevier to publish such a tome, which neither appears in MEDLINE or has a website, according to The Scientist.

Now, open access in itself isn't going to stop this kind of thing, but it seems highly unlikely that anyone would try it, given that the results would be freely available for any Thomas, Richard or Harold to peruse.

One reason why Elseview probably thought they could pull it off was that they knew few people would look at this stuff - which is why it's not in Medline, and why it doesn't have a website. Given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow and all that.

So, next time high-falutin' publishers look down on open access journals - especially if it's Elsevier - just remind them about the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine episode....

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