I presented in INFS 838 on open access publishing and peer review. A logical reason for opposition to open access publication is that it’s not as trustworthy as the formal peer-reviewed journals put out by the big publishing houses.

Or is it? Evidently pharmaceutical giant Merck paid Elsevier to publish a bogus journal that talked up Merck products like Fosamax and Vioxx. Between 2000 and 2005, unnamed pharmaceutical companies paid Elsevier to publish six “sponsored publications” that were dressed up to look like peer-reviewed content.

So sure, open access publishing makes it possible for crackpots to slip their nonsense into the system. But at least we’re all on an even footing, crackpots and scholars alike. Only really rich outfits like Big Pharma can co-opt an academic publisher to disseminate its junk science.

And note that it was the blogosphere that helped shine the light on Elsevier’s unacceptable publication. Tech journalist Glyn Moody argues that open access, with more eyes online, would have exposed Elsevier’s trickery sooner.