September 03, 2004

Save money, but you still have to use proprietary software

BioMed Central | Instructions for authors | Endnote discount. Biomed central: The open access publisher, so they say. Does anyone see the difficulty in being constrained to use a specific program in order to get a discount in publishing fees, to an open access publisher? I wish the discount also pertained to authors deciding to submit in BibTeX format. The difference? Well, if you tout yourself as an open access publisher, would it not be better that you decide on an open standard to store bibliographic data rather than commit yourself to a specific software package? Would it hurt you to live by the spirit of "open access" rather than the letter of it? What if ISI decides to change the way EndNote formats its data? That could break the compatibility of old files in the archive -- you're at the mercy of the software publisher AND you force your users to constantly upgrade (and buy) software that they don't necessarily need. But if you decided on an open standard to store bibliographic data, you would never need to worry about backwards compatibility, about the future of the software company, or about your users being pissed off at you for forcing them to buy new software. I realize that this is all a matter of economics -- the publisher is not giving a $50 discount for nothing. But for once in scientific publishing, couldn't they look beyond the monetary economics and start to see the social economy, i.e. the benefit of open access and open standards for scientists? We are scientists after all, if an open standard is not up to par you know that we'll hack it, fix it, or rebuild it until it does work.

Posted by johnvu at September 3, 2004 03:14 PM
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