Saturday, February 09, 2013

ACM Publications Board: "How can we minimally budge so you'll stop bothering us about open access?"

You may have seen the recent article from CACM, Positioning ACM for an Open Access Future. I found the article fairly upsetting. The first paragraph...
The age of open access is upon us. Increasingly, the consensus of authors of research articles and their funding institutions is that the fruits of taxpayer-supported research should be freely available to the public. This is a compelling argument and a noble goal.
However, we're not going to do that anytime soon! They then launch into a red-herring discussion of predatory OA publishers (which are a real thing! there do exist vanity presses that have sprung up to capitalize on the OA trend) -- but this ignores how such publishers come about. You don't accidentally become such a vanity press. Serious venues with good review boards won't have the problem of "a glut of third-rate publications that add noise rather than insight to the scientific enterprise".

Afterwards, they discuss four different approaches for the ACM to not go fully OA: the first is that, optionally, authors could pay an extra fee to have their articles available from the Digital Library. The other three are simply ways in which the paywall restrictions could be lifted under some circumstances.

None of these are acceptable. Not if we believe that "the fruits of taxpayer-supported research should be freely available to the public". Why is the current situation even sort of OK?

The ACM's resistance to OA so far, its claims that figuring out a way to do it is too hard, that it's too expensive or will lead to bad publications -- as far as I can tell, these mean at least one of two things:
Which one of these is true? Both?

We need to get the ACM to stop thinking like a for-profit publisher and start thinking like their goal is to move the field forward and educate people. The ACM needs to drop both the paywall and its membership in the AAP.

Either that, or we as computing professionals need to drop the ACM.