Come on, AAAS. You can do better than this.

September 2, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, more than hundred scientists sent an open letter to the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) about their new open-access journal Science Advances, which is deficient in various ways — not least the absurdly inflated article-processing charge.

Today I learn from email that there has finally been a response — of sorts. Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt had a long phone-call with Jon Tennant — one of the hundred-plus authors/co-signers. All we know about that call is (and I quote from Jon’s email account) “it became quite apparent that we would have to agree to disagree on many points”.

All I want to say is this. When a hundred scientists co-sign an open letter, it is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE for the response to take the form of a private telephone call with one of those authors.

Come on, AAAS. This is all about openness. Let’s see an open response: a substantive, non-patronising one which addresses the actual points made in the original letter.

Meanwhile, you may like to read this article at The New StatesmanScientists criticise new “open access” journal which limits research-sharing with copyright. In finishes on this very clear note, courtesy of Jon Tennant:

The AAAS should be a shining beacon within the academic world for progression of science. If this is their best shot at that, it’s an absolute disaster at the start on all levels. What publishers need to remember is that the academic community is not here to serve them – it is the other way around.


6 Responses to “Come on, AAAS. You can do better than this.”

  1. A pity the phone call wasn’t recorded, so it could be shared with all the cosignatories (I am one, for what it’s worth). If McNutt gave permission, it could even be made public, like the letter.

  2. Frosted Flake Says:

    I though the point of a journel was to spread knowledge, not limit the spread.

    Live and learn, if you can.

  3. David, it is a pity indeed – I should have pushed harder for a formal response too. If I’d been on the ball, I should have recorded it, especially as there were some juicy bits of conversation in there that I’m not comfortable revealing publicly for fear of misquoting or quoting out of context. Next time..

    It is also incredibly almost cowardly on their behalf too, and not to mention rude, not to reciprocate the same openness we approached them with in the first place.

    If I was in any position of power, I’d call for a boycott of the AAAS journals until they resolve this issue.

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    To me, their failure to reply to the open letter is just as contemptuous (and contemptible) as the pricing and licensing issues themselves. It’s deeply, deeply disappointing.

  5. David Marjanović Says:

    A private phone call to one of over a hundred signatories!?! Are they living in the same universe as the rest of us? Do they believe Jon is some kind of fearless leader and the others are all his vassals who don’t actually care about the issue at all?

    If I got a phone call about that kind of thing, I’d immediately assume someone’s trying to threaten me in a way that wouldn’t leave traces.

    AAAAS – American Association Against the Advancement of Science.

  6. David Marjanović Says:

    Heh. Seldom has the automatically generated picture fit so well. :-þ

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