Open Access and Ecologists

Jonathan Eisen has a new post up on his blog “The Tree of Life” tearing apart a letter from the Ecological Society of America (link is to a pdf). In the letter, the ESA comes out against the government requiring that papers funded by federal research dollars must be made available for free online after a set amount of time has passed since publication. Jonathan Eisen, one of the strongest voices in the open access movement, naturally finds this position disturbing. But why would a scientific society come out against the open dissemination of information? Here is my — entirely speculative — explanation.