Going Backwards on the Road to Freedom of Knowledge?

Kent Anderson, CEO/Publisher of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery and Editor in Cheif of the Scholarly Kitchen,  tells me that since abstracts seem to be the main content that reaches the scientific audience these days, the publishing industry needs to start charging for them. He tries to temper his argument by saying that free databases, that allow free abstract reading, like PubMed, allow the majority of scientific reading to be done outside of the publisher’s websites. This, he argues decreases the publishing website’s usage-based value metrics ratings, which means that abstracts are bad for both open source and pay-site publishers. This, however, is a meager attempt at shrouding his real point: that we should be paying for abstracts because they have become more useful in the accelerating information age. He goes on to ask the following questions: “Providing the abstract freely to anyone who wants to use it has become a habit […] and how long can we sustain it?”  And, “Why are abstracts — arguably the most distilled, useful, structurally predictable, and desirable editorial feature of scientific articles — given away freely in an online?” The answer my friend, is that scientific information should be freely available. We aren’t going to go backward on this point, and trying to force us won’t turn out well for you publications. Take your business model to a different industry and let the freedom of knowledge progress.

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2 Responses to Going Backwards on the Road to Freedom of Knowledge?

  1. Denise says:

    Word. Here’s to a move towards open science, where we put all our hypotheses, experimental designs and research notes online and publish drafts of our articles in our blogs to be peer-reviewed by scientists and non-scientists alike. Information should be freely available, there is no reason to deny knowledge to those that can’t afford it.


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