Publishers Do Not Provide Peer-Review. We Do.

Mike Taylor | | January 23, 2012

...Publishers do not provide peer-review.  We do.  The same body of researchers that writes the papers for publishers also performs peer-review for publishers.  And we charge exactly the same amount: nothing.  Peer review is just one more gift that we give to the publishers.  It’s a gift that I don’t begrudge when the world can benefit from it, through open-access publishing.  But when the publisher locks up the result of my work — an intolerable thing to do at the best of times — it’s the most bare-faced effrontery for them then to claim that this is justified by the “added value” that my peer-reviewing effort provides.

So: where does the lie that publishers provide peer-review come from?

As described in the SPARC letter of September 6, 2007, AAP publishers commissioned PR “pit bull” Eric Dezenhall in January of that year to develop a campaign against open access.  His advice was (in part) that “the publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review.”  (If you doubt PRISM’s objectivity in recounting this history, it’s also discussed in a Nature article ; but with perfect poetic irony, many of you won’t be able to read it because it’s paywalled.)

So “publishers provide peer-review” is a lie invented by a PR hack who was explicitly commissioned to come up with soundbites to undermine open access.  Please, people: don’t do commercial publishers’ jobs for them by perpetuating this lie.  If you must do their job for them, stick to doing by writing, illustrating, editing and reviewing their articles for them....