Abject attack on non-commercial open access scientific publishing

SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) is a public, non-commercial, open access portal which harbours the most important Brazilian scientific periodicals. It has come under attack by an American librarian who apparently believes that only commercial publishers can provide visibility to scientific journals.

The Forum of Brazilian Public Health Editors and the Brazilian Public Health Association responded to such attacks with the manifest below, please help to disseminate:

By the Brazilian Forum of Public Health Journals Editors and the Associação Brasileira de Saúde Coletiva (Abrasco, Brazilian Public Health Association)

Jeffrey Beal, an American librarian who gained notoriety publishing a list of open access publishers considered as “predatory” by him, posted in his blog an unbelievably mistaken and prejudiced article, beginning with its title, “Is SciELO a Publication Favela?”[1]
Based on an ethnocentric and purely commercial point of view, mr. Beal supposes that, since the whole ensemble of its publications are not indexed by Thomson Reuter’s bibliographic database, and because of the discontinuation of a proposal by a Brazilian government agency to hire a commercial publisher to disseminate some of the nation’s periodicals, SciELO’s publications would be “hidden from the world” (sic).
In order to promote commercial publishers, mr. Beal despises the asset that the SciELO collection represents, and makes factually incorrect assertions. Contrary to his statements, the whole collection is already indexed in the Scopus database. Also in opposition to another of his mistaken affirmations, SciELO has adopted for some time the Creative Commons license, which means that there is no risk of an article “losing its interest” due to author’s copyright issues.
A paragraph in particular demonstrates the prejudices, classism, imperialism and crass commercialism present in the tone of mr. Beal’s diatribe: “Thus, commercial publisher platforms are nice neighborhoods for scholarly publications. On the other hand, some open-access platforms are more like publication favelas.”
As a counterpoint to this neocolonial point of view, a recent article by Vessuri and cols emphasizes the contribution of initiatives such as SciELO and Redalyc (also targeted by mr. Beal) for the development of science in Latin America and the world: “In fact, Latin America is using the OA publishing model to a far greater extent than any other region in the world. Also, because the sense of public mission remains strong among Latin American universities, the effectiveness of open access for knowledge sharing was heard loud and clear. (…) These current initiatives demonstrate that the region contributes more and more to the global knowledge exchange while positioning research literature as a public good.”[2]
Contrary to the classist disgust that favelas elicit from mr. Beal, we would like to reiterate that they are a kind of neighborhood where a sizable portion of the Brazilian population, which uses the nation’s healthcare system and is ultimately the source of funding for the Brazilian science itself, resides. Discrimination and prejudice against these Brazilian citizens is inadmissible. If the only alternatives for scientific publishing are either inhabiting the gated communities of the 1% of the world population which concentrates wealth at the cost of exploiting the other 99% or being with the people in a favela, long live the favela.
[1] http://scholarlyoa.com/…/30/is-scielo-a-publication-favela/…
[2] VESSURI, Hebe; GUÉDON, Jean-Claude; CETTO, Ana María. Excellence or quality? Impact of the current competition regime on science and scientific publishing in Latin America and its implications for development. Current Sociology, p. 0011392113512839, 2013.

UPDATE: More on the same subject at SciELO’s own blog.


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