Your Friday Read this week is from Phil Cohen, a sociologist and demographer at the University of Maryland. Phil has been an open science advocate for years, and that has put him at odds with the American Sociological Association, the largest professional association of sociologists in the world (per Wikipedia). Phil quit the ASA two years ago, citing a laundry list of issues, and (per a chart Phil shared on Mastodon this morning) he’s not the only one losing interest in what the ASA has to offer.
In this morning’s blog post, Phil reflects on the group’s silence in the face of the extraordinary recent achievements of a leading Black sociologist, Alondra Nelson:
Needless to say, ASA was delighted to report it when, in 2021, she was named by President Biden to be Principal Deputy Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for Science and Society. OSTP plays an outsized role in setting science policy for the entire federal government. Her career was truly groundbreaking already, but the OSTP appointment was historic in many ways. Then, in 2022, she was named acting head of OSTP, “the first African American and first woman of color to lead US science and technology policy.” At which point — ASA said nothing. (I checked a few times to be sure, and find no announcement of this, not even in “Member News & Notes.”)
What happened? Long story short: ASA is fundamentally, strongly, consistently, organizationally, opposed to the crowning achievement of Nelson’s work at OSTP, known around the world as the “Nelson Memo.” It’s subject: “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research.” Which is exactly what ASA does not want.
Sadly, the ASA is not alone, here. Academics across the spectrum of fields and disciplines should look into their professional associations’ and societies’ stances on open scholarship, and consider whether the thirst for what Phil calls “a toxic diet of publishing rents” may be driving a wedge between the society and its members.
The full post is here: American Sociological Association, in absentia but not silent on open science