Brian Crawford

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Brian Crawford is head of publications at the American Chemical Society and is also is chairman of the Executive Council of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers.[1] He has also been linked to attempts to undermine open access publishing and creation of the front group PRISM Coalition (Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine).

The Campaign Against Open-Access Journals

In January 2007, Nature reported that public relations operative, Eric Dezenhall, "spoke to employees from Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society at a meeting arranged last July [2006] by the Association of American Publishers." The publishers were seeking to counter economic threats from open-access journals and public databases.

In an email leaked to Nature, Dezenhall suggested that the publishers "focus on simple messages, such as 'Public access equals government censorship.' He hinted that the publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review, and 'paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles.'" Nature added that "Brian Crawford, a senior vice-president at the American Chemical Society and a member of the AAP executive chair, says that Dezenhall's suggestions have been refined and that the publishers have not to his knowledge sought to work with the Competitive Enterprise Institute."[2]

Scientific American reported that ACS had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against open-acess. "In fact, the ACS paid lobbying firm Hicks Partners LLC at least $100,000 in 2005 to try to persuade congressional members, the NIH, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that a 'PubChem Project' would be a bad idea, according to public lobbying disclosures, and paid an additional $180,000 to the Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates to promote the 'use of [a] commercial database.' It also reportedly spent a chunk of its 2005 $280,000 internal lobbying budget as well as part of its $270,000 lobbying budget last year to push the issue, according to disclosure documents. The ACS publishes more than 30 journals covering all aspects of chemistry, and the organization did not return phone calls for comment."[3]

After stories appeared in the press, Brian Crawford wrote a statement on behalf of the American Association of Publishers. "Regrettably, the news reports above were somehow stimulated by reporters gaining access to internal emails and background information...."[4]

Crawford later defended hiring Dezenhall in an editorial: "In essence, the premise of a January 24, 2007 article in Nature was that [publishers] should be admonished for seeking advice and assistance from a media consulting firm known for its effectiveness in working with high-profile clients on controversial issues," he wrote. "Peer-reviewed science and medicine should be free of any government intervention or funding agency bias, and we will fulfill our responsibility to communicate that point of view, because doing so is in the best interest of science and society."[5]

The American Chemical apparently took Dezenhall up on his offer, according to New Scientist, which reported that publishers had established a front group called Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine (PRISM Coalition).[1] "Dezenhall's strategy includes linking open access with government censorship and junk science – ideas that to me seem quite bizarre and misleading," wrote the reporter. [6] New Scientist acquired a copy of Dezenhall's strategy document for creating PRISM and released it on their Website.[7]

In a press release announcing PRISM, Brian Crawford stated, “Peer review has been the global standard for validating scholarly research for more than 400 years and we want to make sure it remains free of unnecessary government interference, agenda-driven research, and bad science."[8]

In August of 2007, Crawford wrote a letter to Los Angeles Times on behalf of the Association of American Publishers. He wrote, "Although the National Institutes of Health funds many research studies, it does not pay for independent peer review. That function, which ensures the integrity of the research, is funded by journal publishers. But government bureaucracy continues to impede participation and undermines the successful expansion of information access."[9]



  1. "Brian Crawford Will Head ACS Publication", Chemical & Engineering News, August 2, 2007.
  2. Jim Giles, "PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access: Journal publishers lock horns with free-information movement", Nature, Volume 445 No 347, January 25, 2007.
  3. David Biello "Open Access to Science Under Attack: Advocates of open access to scientific research may find themselves under fire from high-profile public relations flaks and high-powered lobbying groups.", Scientific American, January 26, 2007.
  5. Brian Crawford, "Chairman's Corner", Professional Scholarly Publishing Bulletin, Volume 7, No. 1, Spring 2007.
  6. Jim Giles, "Publishers prepare for war over open access", New Scientist, September 20, 2007.
  7. "Proposed Coalition Strategies and Tactics", undated. (Pdf file)
  8. Press Release "PRISM Coalition to Inform Public on Risks Government Interference Poses to Science and Medicine" The Association of American Publishers, August 23, 2007.
  9. "Letters to the editor", August 6, 2007.