Does Open Access cause Cancer or cure it?

If you come from the UK you may guess where this is heading. The Daily Mail.

The Daily mail is a popular newspaper which is renowned among scientists for reporting one day that X causes cancer and the next day that X prevents it. See . It is towards the conservative end of the spectrum. For “Yes Prime/Minister” fans, “The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country;” (Jim Hacker).

But the Daily Mail has today commented on the Janet Finch report on Open Access (hat-tip Jens Thomas). The headline screams:

Open access’ move puts thousands of UK jobs at risk

Read more:

But the first paragraph actually reports:

Up to £1billion of income and thousands of jobs could be placed at risk as a result of a move by Downing Street to allow Google and other digital search engines ‘open access’ to the nation’s best academic and scientific research.

A report commissioned by 10 Downing Street sociologist Dame Janet Finch will say that open access to public-funded research ‘offers significant social and economic benefits’.

The study, due for release today, is part of a drive initiated by former Downing Street adviser Steve Hilton aimed at turning Britain into a digital hub attracting investment from internet behemoths such as Google.

So it’s both good and bad. The DM is true to its style.

But lower:

But UK businesses fear that the proposals will destroy Britain’s highly-regarded academic publishing industry that modifies raw research, publishes it in the form of academic magazines, journals and books and exports it to the rest of the world.

One leading publishing group said the move to provide all of Britain’s academic output online for nothing could destroy a £1billion industry that employs 10,000 people here and in its overseas operations.

Ah! The publishing industry modifies raw research! This could either be that the DM hasn’t much idea what publishers do, or that they have confused “modify” with “moderate” or anything.

In reality academic publishers and researchers fear that scientific and other academic studies, paid for by the taxpayer, will be made freely available to researchers in China and elsewhere in the Far East.

Under the current system of academic journals the raw data is closely scrutinised before publication and highly sensitive material – such as research conducted on behalf of the UK’s leading pharmaceutical companies – is carefully protected from intellectual piracy.

Ah! I didn’t realise that. Publishers are there to stop the Chinese stealing our pharmaceutical secrets.

Publishers are concerned that if an open access policy is adopted then some of the biggest scientific companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, might move research work from British labs to those overseas where it will able to protect itself from open access.

Gosh – if I were still working for GSK then I might lose my job because of Open Access.

But OA will surely cause cancer.

Oh, and it’s also good for you as part of a healthy diet.






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