This post isn’t so much about Open Access (OA) so much as it is about people talking about Open Access.
The OA movement has gained traction recently. The OSTP Memo has definitely helped raise awareness in some circles and given it weight. People are starting to pay attention and get more familiar with OA issues.
Like anything that starts to become popular, it’s sort of annoying to see who is recognized as the leaders of the group. For a group of people, the voice of OA was Jeffrey Beall, well known for Beall’s List of predatory OA publishers. (Yes, it always had his name in it – important marketing tool.)
I’ve never understood Beall’s appeal other than he wasn’t too radical, he was a respectable, older, white, male librarian (therefore perceived authority), and he is great at self promotion. He’s a hype machine, and while I didn’t really agree with him and his tactics, I didn’t feel any point in calling him out because nobody would listen to me and he got people talking about OA.
Thankfully this week other well regarded people (also white men) called him out. First was Michael Eisen (Berkeley professor and co-founder). Then Roy Tennant. Soon Beall’s star had fallen and Scholarly Kitchen cut ties with him. (Not that Scholarly Kitchen is a great place for OA.)
For a great perspective on this, read the Library Loon’s character assessment.
I’m thankful for Eisen’s blog post so that I can point to something next time people try to get me excited about Beall’s list, and tell them, “This is why I don’t care what he has to say or support him.” It’s concise and people will pay attention. It’s just frustrating that for many people, it took people like Eisen and Tennant calling Beall out to do something about it. This isn’t anything against them (I personally think they’re both pretty awesome), but it’s against the collective whole. Start paying attention to people beyond the big names. Stop dismissing people who reference blogs (gasp!) or people you’re not familiar with. Especially if you’re a librarian/info pro, you know how to find this stuff. I understand it’s hard staying up to date on everything, but only looking towards the establishment does stifle conversation. Thankfully we have people like Eisen and Tennant who pay attention to the fringe conversations.