I'm a world-leading biologist! Or else Open Access is a bad idea. (a short rant)

I got invited to be the editor-in-chief of a journal due to my "reputation in biology".  This is by a publishing company called Bentham

Why does Bentham think I should be an editor?  Because the more journals they make, the more money they make.  How can that be?  Surely it's hard to sell new journals?  Ah, but no -- this is an Open Access journal, so the authors pay them.  They couldn't care less if no one every reads the article, they get money for it.

And will authors pay to get published?  Oh yes!  Because some people think any journal article is good -- and academics get judged by the number of good articles they produce.  Some people think Open Access is a good idea, as in the opposite of evil, rather than good as in good quality articles.  This is because anyone can read the articles for free, since the authors already paid for them.  Tax payers pay for research, shouldn't they be able to read about it?  Well, yes, and they can, for nearly any article in any journal Google will find you a free copy.  Don't like to steal?  Then why not join the library of your local university?  Bath charges £80 a year, and then you have access to literally thousands of journals that they buy electronically.

The first few Open Access journals had nice, idealistic socialists trying to change the world working for them.  But taking money for articles this way is not just an insult to the authors (who already did all the work, and now get charged!) but also a moral hazard.

I have to go have dinner with Will, as it's Thanksgiving.  Though we already celebrated, we want to go out, and it may be crowded as there are often Americans here.  Saturday I said I was thankful Obama won the presidency.  Today I am thankful for the people who still keep working to make the scientific publication system work.  It's our main mechanism for validating research, the selective force that keeps science progressing.  Like Natural Selection, it's not perfect, but it at least generally finds a gradient.
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