In the mega-battle between PLOS and other internet era journals versus Nature/Science/Cell, Eisen brothers are seeing one victory after another. In December, they convinced Randy Schekman, a freshly minted Nobel laureate, to declare Nature/Science/Cell as ‘luxury journals’. Some observant people (such as BioMickWatson) pointed out that Randy Schekman published in Nature/Science/Cell all their life, but overall the media blast and Scheckman’s twitter AMA appeared like a victory for open-access journals. In a separate incidence, Nature published a rare apology this week over interactions of one of their editors through his personal twitter account. No matter how you slice and dice the events, it is clear that the powerful old-era journals like Nature are in retreat.
That made Jonathan Eisen pay attention the new battle-front - BGI. BGI’s crime is to back the journal GigaScience, which not only is open-access but is also completely free (Edit. initial rate, please check comment below). Their model is a clear threat to PLOS One, which charges $1000 per quiltplot and get BioMickWatson even more angry. In the big picture of things, if scientists start choosing GigaScience-like journals, PLOS empire will be in trouble, and that will happen even before people start asking critical questions, such as (i) why is PLOS a non-profit, when other journals are not, (ii) why do they have to hire the CEO of worst subprime bank (Golden West) to lead their organization? We asked such questions in a comment section last year and one of Mike Eisen’s minions responded that private and past affairs of PLOS cannot be questioned !!
Personally I dont care if the CEO is barbequing kittens over flaming piles of rare zoological monographs and wiping his mouth with the US Constitution.
Back to the BGI story. What we wrote above is not the official reason for Jonathan Eisen’s call to boycott BGI. Officially, he thinks BGI events should have 50-50 male- female ratio to reflect the natural balance of the world. That is very noble, but here are the clubs Jonathan Eisen is proud to join.
Anurag Acharya - Indian, not of east-Asian origin
Rick Anderson - not of east-Asian origin
Jonathan Eisen - not of east-Asian origin
Paul Ginsparg - not of east-Asian origin
Eric Green - not of east-Asian origin
Hopi Hoekstra - not of east-Asian origin
Leonid Kruglyak - not of east-Asian origin
Frank Norman - not of east-Asian origin
Bernd Pulverer - not of east-Asian origin
John Sack - not of east-Asian origin
Sandra Schmid - not of east-Asian origin
Pamela Silver - not of east-Asian origin
Leslie Vosshall - not of east-Asian origin
Fiona Watt - not of east-Asian origin
Mike Wigler - not of east-Asian origin
That is 15-0. Wow !!!
Jonathan Eisen, trying to explain why biorxiv’s board selection is not racist.
In a commentary published last year, Ron Unz argued that the discrimination against Asians has been institutionalized as policy by US Ivy league organizations. The following chart from the article does not look as severe as the Biorxiv board membership, but it clearly highlights the problem.
Ron Unz’s article has been well discussed by Stephen Hsu, vice president research at Michigan State university, who is also a scientific advisor to BGI.