From: Colin Steele <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 6:45 PM
Is Nature’s “free to view” a magnanimous gesture or a cynical ploy?
The big announcement from academic publisher Macmillan Science and
Education this week is that subscribers can now share links to
nature.com articles. But is this move as groundbreaking as purported?
Michael Eisen argues that it is more likely Nature are promoting free
access, while doing nothing to address the real obstacle to wider
access – the subscription model. So, really, what they’re doing is not
making articles more available, they are just changing where people
view the articles.
Macmillan, the publisher of Nature and 48 other Nature Publishing
Group (NPG) journals, announced today that all research papers
published in these journals would be “made free to read in a
proprietary screen-view format that can be annotated but not copied,
printed or downloaded”. If you believe, as I do, that paywalls that
restrict the free flow of scientific knowledge are a bad thing, then
anything that removes some of these restrictions is a good thing.
At the end of the day, this is a pretty cynical move. I’m sure the
people at Nature want as many people as possible to read their
articles. But this move is really about defusing pressure from various
sources to provide free access. Yet Nature knows that they can’t
really provide free access without giving up their lucrative
subscription business model, which they are unwilling to do. So they
do something that makes it seem like they are promoting free access,
while doing nothing to address the real obstacle to free access –
About the Author
Michael Eisen is an evolutionary biologist at UC Berkeley and an
Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His research
focuses on the evolution and population genomics of gene regulation in
flies, and on the ways that microbes control animal behavior. Eisen is
a strong proponent of open science, and a co-founder of the Public
Library of Science.
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
The Australian National University
Acton, ACT, 2601
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