Denialist Deck Applied: PRISM

It’s that time again. Bora’s got the scoop on this new organization PRISM (Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine). They purport to be the saviors of scientific publishing, protecting us from the evil of open access. But how much do you want to bet they’re the same old industry lobbying group, disguising themselves as actors in the public interest? Well, there’s an easy way to tell. Let’s apply the deck of cards!

There’s not a lot to work with yet, but I think we’ve got some classics to go after right away. After all, we have an industry group – the publishers – who are trying to avoid being regulated so that they’re forced to open up publicly-funded research to the public (after a delay). Let’s start with their frontmatter:

* undermining the peer review process by compromising the viability of non-profit and commercial journals that manage and fund it;

Undermining peer-review! Commercial journals can’t compete with open access! That sounds like:

* opening the door to scientific censorship in the form of selective additions to or omissions from the scientific record;

Now this is just utter BS. I have no idea where they manage to get this idea that forcing open-access will lead to censorship, but I can’t help thinking this sounds like:


* subjecting the scientific record to the uncertainty that comes with changing federal budget priorities and bureaucratic meddling with definitive versions; and

Well this one is easy:


Going through the Prism Principles I found more fodder for the cards. We have

* Scientific knowledge should incorporate new research as part of the scholarly record based on merit alone-not tradition, ideology, or political expediency. Society is best served when the pursuit of scientific knowledge takes place in an environment of intellectual freedom-where objectivity and independence are guaranteed, and where published expression is protected from governmental or other controls, and is free of censorship or bias.


* Scientific knowledge must be documented and preserved in perpetuity, free of alteration, political or ideological pressures, or the threat of uncertain funding.


* Research funding is best spent on new and important research studies, and should leverage rather than duplicate the valuable publishing infrastructure built over decades by private sector publishers working in partnership with the research community.

I know that one:

* Society is best served by sustainable business models and reasonable copyright protections that provide positive incentives for publishers to continue innovating in their distribution of scientific knowledge, investment in peer review, and exploration of preservation technologies.

* The free market of scholarly publishing is dynamic and competitive, responsive to the needs of scholars and scientists, and balances the interests of all stakeholders in making research widely available. It encourages publishing innovation and diversity, and should remain free from government mandates that favor particular business models.


Nope, not impressed with PRISM. Seems like the classic industry lobbying tactics applied to protect publishers’ profits against a business model they can’t compete with. No real substance here, just a plea for government protection of their business model.