Accelerating access to biomedical evidence

Nature Publishing Group – Dark Side, Light Side

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Pianist George Cables wrote and played Dark Side, Light Side.  It came to mind in thinking about Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and the recent dust-up with the University of California Libraries.  Yes, that million dollar misunderstanding.

Last week a letter to University of California (UC) faculty by librarians from the 10 UC campuses was sent  to NPG and posted publicly.  The letter describes a 400% increase in the cost of access to the 67 NPG journals published by Nature Publishing Group, as well as mentioning that this would come on the heals of NPG subscription agreements that increased 137% in the past five years.  The letter also suggests a tool to get attention and redress:  a article submission boycott, or perhaps resigning from NPG peer review assignments.

So Nature posts the typical knee jerk response on their site, admonishing the University of California Libraries to be satisfied with the substantial discount off of list price they are receiving, something like 50%.   Perhaps the author has not recently gone into Stop and Shop for a “buy one, get one free”  package of hot dogs, only to find that the list price for the hot dogs has mysteriously risen to $4.99 ( or, these days, $4.49 for 14 oz.).  Not quite the bargain you are seeking….

But enough on the dark side of NPG.  There are genuine interesting and useful things Nature is doing:

  • Scitable by Nature Education, a free science library and personal learning tool.
  • Nature.com Blogs, Nature Publishing Group’s community-run blog tracking and indexing service.

There are two sides to every coin, and certainly NPG is giving us an eye-opening and temporarily maddening view of both the lighter and darker tendencies in commercial publishing today.


Mon, June 14 2010 » Uncategorized

One Response

  1. Stevan Harnad July 5 2010 @ 14:25

    Setting the record straight in the UC/NPG pricing kerfuffle

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