ABR, JEM, and advertising

Ian A. York iayork at panix.com
Thu Feb 10 12:46:41 EST 2000

While reading the latest Journal of Experimental Medicine, I was dismayed
to find that they're allowing a method of advertising I think is
unacceptable for an academic journal.  In the body of an article (not in
banner ads or off to the side; actually in the article), the word
"affinity" is highlighted.  It clicks through to the home page of Affinist
BioReagents.  In other words, JEM has marked up the article, converting
meaningful words into advertisements.  

This not only cheapens the article itself and raises questions about the
integrity of the journal (will they start demanding that authors put in
buzzwords?  Change data to allow more product placement?), but, it seems
to me, is probably questionable legally--certainly morally.  The
assumption is that the authors are responsible for the content of an
article.  This sort of thing implies that the authors are endorsing
ABR; more likely, they don't even know that their words are being used
this way.

I know that Remarq was tring a similar approach using Usenet posts they
had archived, and that received a storm of protest from people who
resented having their words used for advertising without permission.  The
JEM case isn't quite as egregious, since JEM owns the copyright in the
latter case while Remarq did not, but the difference is a technical legal
one (if it exists at all), and doesn't alter the ethical problem.
I've sent complaints to JEM and to ABR.  

I know that this post is questionably on-topic for the group.  Sorry.  
It's something I found infuriating.  Perhaps I'm too idealistic, and
science today is just another sales tool, I dunno.

    Ian York   (iayork at panix.com)  <http://www.panix.com/~iayork/>
    "-but as he was a York, I am rather inclined to suppose him a
     very respectable Man." -Jane Austen, The History of England

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