Announcement

Collapse

Welcome to Moorcock's Miscellany

Dear reader,

Many people have given their valuable time to create a website for the pleasure of posing questions to Michael Moorcock, meeting people from around the world, and mining the site for information. Please follow one of the links above to learn more about the site.

Thank you,
Reinart der Fuchs
See more
See less

Accademic journals: are they monopolistic paracites?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Accademic journals: are they monopolistic paracites?

    ... Everyone claims to agree that people should be encouraged to understand science and other academic research. Without current knowledge, we cannot make coherent democratic decisions. But the publishers have slapped a padlock and a Keep Out sign on the gates ...

    ... governments should refer the academic publishers to their competition watchdogs, and insist that all papers arising from publicly funded research are placed in a free public database. In the longer term, they should work with researchers to cut out the middleman altogether, creating – along the lines proposed by Bjِrn Brembs of Berlin's Freie Universitنt – a single global archive of academic literature and data. Peer-review would be overseen by an independent body. It could be funded by the library budgets which are currently being diverted into the hands of privateers.

    The knowledge monopoly is as unwarranted and anachronistic as the corn laws...
    More | The Lairds of Learning

    The current system is a shocker, but that ending paragraph shows it's not a hopeless persuit, so not too painful aread!

  • #2
    Interesting, but actually round these parts it's pretty easy to glom onto academic journals. I've rummaged through many, many publications via subscriptions to EBSCO & Jstor. The Texas State Library licenses EBSCO & the local public library licenses Jstor. I also always look to see what journals are free (eg Tequesta, Florida Historical Quarterly) online.

    Anything published via a university press in Texas (public university that is) is considered a state document, though there are some exceptions (mostly fiction I think). But journals are part of the state depository system & are required to be forwarded in appropriate quantities. Now the State Library had to cut it's depository (a very sad loss as this was the flagship), but the other depositories survive.

    I used to get articles through interlibrary loan, but that's gone now (budget cuts).

    Springer is a pain & I've heard many a curse hurled at Elsevier. Even so, if they have something I'm bound to get, I usually find a way to get it. Contracting with them is a different matter. You need ample funds and an ability to leverage mass-buying power. I know a few librarians who've worked those angles pretty successfully.
    Dave Hardy
    http://fireandsword.blogspot.com/

    My books: Crazy Greta, Tales of Phalerus the Achaean, and Palmetto Empire.

    sigpic

    Comment


    • #3
      Academic publishing is a business. Period.

      While I agree with Dave that subscriptions like EBSCO and JSTOR give you a great deal of access, most institutions do not have the vast subscriptions that Texas State's relatively rich library has. (I actually went from teaching at Texas State to a liberal arts college). I could still get nearly anything through interlibrary loans at the second place, it was difficult and time consuming, and that was with faculty resources and a strong desire to find the sources. Having said that, I think if people want access to particular articles, they can get them. Academic publishers are increasingly making money on convenience, rather than content. (Maybe we can save the idea of content and peer-review, and maybe compensation issues in the process for another day )

      Searching is easy, even if access isn't. Browsing, though, has become a bit of a lost endeavor with so many journal subscriptions going online. This makes me really sad. Some of the most interesting and informative articles I've read and used professionally jumped out at me while browsing. Maybe that's why the publishers' tables at conferences are so packed... Nostalgia. And free stuff.

      Comment


      • #4
        I take your POV Doc that with a bit of a wait, those in accedemia can get nearly anything. But the question poses a broader question I think which is why the ivory tower has such walls? Why are (the) hoi polloi not provided access, often for work which they paid for? How can joe punter, or joe journalist on their behalf, be expected to critique or understand work for which they cannot check the paper or its sources? And why not.

        Comment


        • #5
          That is one of the million dollar questions, isn't it Rothgo? I spend a lot of time with people who are self-assured of their own self-importance. "Everyone should be exposed to my work! Except the unwashed masses who couldn't hope to understand it or its importance." The problems created by those people are evident on their face.

          A related problem is that colleges and universities depend on communications offices to know what is happening within their own walls. I have been on faculty at three institutions. At each I had to fill out a media contact form, which listed my expertise. This was kept in a file by the communications office, used when someone from the local news media contacted the school about a particular issue. These are the same offices that issue press releases about career achievements, publications, and awards. Other people in academe will contact me directly via email (which is included in every publication) about my work without hesitation, but the times anyone from outside of academe has contacted me about my work, the questions came through the institution's communication office. The problem is that the communications offices where I have been usually have no real idea what I do. They are really PR/promotions people, not really information sources.

          Just another example of the disconnect between the ivory tower and everyone else.

          Comment


          • #6
            Publicly funded research should be freely accessibly to the tax payer... sounds like a good idea (actually it probably is if you make a freedom of information request, i guess?), but why just point the finger at scientists? Surely publicly funded art should also be free too? Free ballet, opera, etc... Which presumably would mean that as New Worlds had Arts Council funding for some of its life, then it too should have been free for that period, I guess? Sounds good to me... can we make this a retrospective law I wonder?
            forum

            1. a meeting or assembly for the open discussion of subjects of public interest
            2. a medium for open discussion, such as a magazine
            3. a public meeting place for open discussion

            Comment


            • #7
              Free, or free to within limits imposed by costs required to support the maintenance and distribution, certainly should be considered in all public fields. My wife often mutters about how the civil service has been told to try 'revenue generation' wherever it can, money being the focus, not the public service they are their for.

              You do raise a good point Doc, one which many might not be aware of, which is most scientists (and other researchers I assume) pretty much love talking about their work, so if you can't get the article itself, a wee email to the last name on the author list will almost certainly get you a copy or possibly a bunch load more. Interesting from a multiverse POV that this somewhat anarchistic approach is really quite effective; the ivory towers of law and property vs. the chaos of ego and good manners!

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't know too much about the monopoly on academic publishing. It's certainly a scandal the way a small group of companies has gained a monopoly. However, it doesn't seem to take much to send gullible George hyperbolic these days.
                ...

                Who are the most ruthless capitalists in the Western world? Whose monopolistic practices makes WalMart look like a corner shop and Rupert Murdoch look like a socialist? You won’t guess the answer in a month of Sundays. While there are plenty of candidates, my vote goes not to the banks, the oil companies or the health insurers, but – wait for it – to academic publishers. Theirs might sound like a fusty and insignificant sector. It is anything but. Of all corporate scams, the racket they run is most urgently in need of referral to the competition authorities.

                ...
                Is he being serious? No sense of perspective, our George. George 'Green Plutonium' Monbiot is quickly revealing himself to be little more than an enormous sack of bull ploppies.

                It reminds me of that scene from Father Ted, where Ted is attempting to demonstrate perspective to Dougal:

                "small... far away"
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98hO97ky-sA

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by The English Assassin View Post
                  Publicly funded research should be freely accessibly to the tax payer... sounds like a good idea (actually it probably is if you make a freedom of information request, i guess?), but why just point the finger at scientists? Surely publicly funded art should also be free too? Free ballet, opera, etc... Which presumably would mean that as New Worlds had Arts Council funding for some of its life, then it too should have been free for that period, I guess? Sounds good to me... can we make this a retrospective law I wonder?
                  I should preface this by saying this is from an American perspective-
                  Some academic science at the highest levels is funded by tax payers and the benefit is reaped by corporations. Most basic research on biochemistry is done in public universities. Pharmaceutical giants use the basic research to produce incredibly expensive drugs. We get no breaks on prescription drugs. Corporate research (and profit) is subsidized by grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institute for Health. I like your alternative-

                  A couple of free issues of New Worlds, free opera, free drugs... I like the sound of this place we're creating.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rothgo View Post
                    You do raise a good point Doc, one which many might not be aware of, which is most scientists (and other researchers I assume) pretty much love talking about their work, so if you can't get the article itself, a wee email to the last name on the author list will almost certainly get you a copy or possibly a bunch load more. Interesting from a multiverse POV that this somewhat anarchistic approach is really quite effective; the ivory towers of law and property vs. the chaos of ego and good manners!
                    Most of us in Academe are not world-famous researchers. Most of us have a few people who run across our work. Some people find it interesting and useful. I feel good about that, and will almost always talk about my work when people are actually interested in it.

                    As a bit of an aside, I say actually interested, because I once got an email from someone who claimed to be interested in my work and wanted to know some details of my argument in a particular paper. It became clear pretty quickly that this person hadn't read the article, because the details were the clear backbone of the paper. Turns out it was someone writing a thesis on a related topic and was doing their best to find ways of synthesizing a great deal of information without actually reading any of the source material. It is really funny now. Of course, it was more than a little annoying at the time.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sorry to monopolize this thread. I feel like I'm responding to everyone. Actually, I am.

                      Pietro, I so agree that academic publishing is a racket. In journals, editors do their work for free and scholars are fighting to have their work included for no compensation. Someone manages things and provides content for free, but I keep the money. Sounds like a good plan to me. And textbook companies? Editors are more concerned about what sells rather than content. Choosing textbooks is a terrible process.

                      Having said all of that, if this was the worst of the business practices I'm around on a day to day basis I would feel lucky.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A minor goverment drone's POV

                        Originally posted by Rothgo View Post
                        I take your POV Doc that with a bit of a wait, those in accedemia can get nearly anything. But the question poses a broader question I think which is why the ivory tower has such walls? Why are (the) hoi polloi not provided access, often for work which they paid for? How can joe punter, or joe journalist on their behalf, be expected to critique or understand work for which they cannot check the paper or its sources? And why not.
                        Well, in the instances I cite, the material is often available online to public library users. But it's low-profile.

                        To access JSTOR in Austin, no special academic credentials are required,all you need is an Austin Public Library Card. That and to know that the library has access to it. And to know what it is. And to give a damn about it. In other words it depends on public awareness and a sense of need.

                        Students might benefit from the contents of academic journals, but unless they know it's there and have a need for it, they aren't going to use it.

                        I used to run stats on these things. The public side isn't completely oblivious, but the heavy use comes from colleges where students get some direction. The Texas public schools had their own academic journal subscriptions, but funding & direction bounced around from agency to agency & I think it finally got cut for good (don't quote me on that).

                        You could compare interest in academic journals to interest in genealogy material. In good times there may be plenty of money for both. In lean times, libraries may have to chose. Which do you pick?

                        That's an (over) simplification, but the process is constant. It gets really simple when they just run out of money and scrap all the subscriptions so they can keep paying salaries. Which sort of works back to your point. I agree, if a document is produced on state time, it's a state document (a broader implication) and the public has a right to access (as an open record of government if nothing else).
                        Dave Hardy
                        http://fireandsword.blogspot.com/

                        My books: Crazy Greta, Tales of Phalerus the Achaean, and Palmetto Empire.

                        sigpic

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Former reference clerk

                          Originally posted by Doc View Post
                          Searching is easy, even if access isn't. Browsing, though, has become a bit of a lost endeavor with so many journal subscriptions going online. This makes me really sad. Some of the most interesting and informative articles I've read and used professionally jumped out at me while browsing. Maybe that's why the publishers' tables at conferences are so packed... Nostalgia. And free stuff.
                          That was one of the perks of pulling stuff to be scanned for ILL. I'd have to locate the print article and sometimes I'd see something in there that interested me.

                          Working in the stacks at the State Library was pretty neat. You could find all kinds of antique books on the shelves. And I wasn't even in the archives, just the open stacks.
                          Dave Hardy
                          http://fireandsword.blogspot.com/

                          My books: Crazy Greta, Tales of Phalerus the Achaean, and Palmetto Empire.

                          sigpic

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Doc View Post

                            A couple of free issues of New Worlds, free opera, free drugs... I like the sound of this place we're creating.
                            I think we need to formulate a manifesto... This could catch on...
                            forum

                            1. a meeting or assembly for the open discussion of subjects of public interest
                            2. a medium for open discussion, such as a magazine
                            3. a public meeting place for open discussion

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dave Hardy View Post
                              Originally posted by Doc View Post
                              Searching is easy, even if access isn't. Browsing, though, has become a bit of a lost endeavor with so many journal subscriptions going online. This makes me really sad. Some of the most interesting and informative articles I've read and used professionally jumped out at me while browsing. Maybe that's why the publishers' tables at conferences are so packed... Nostalgia. And free stuff.
                              That was one of the perks of pulling stuff to be scanned for ILL. I'd have to locate the print article and sometimes I'd see something in there that interested me.

                              Working in the stacks at the State Library was pretty neat. You could find all kinds of antique books on the shelves. And I wasn't even in the archives, just the open stacks.
                              And some people question why libraries still matter so much in our digital world...

                              I know several people, librarians and others, who have worked in libraries. Almost all of them read far more widely (and, frankly, more interestingly) than I do. I travel down many rabbit holes following things on the internet. I'm even worse when I can physically go through things. I can only imagine someone with my compulsions and a touch of ADD. A librarian would certainly be fired.

                              The state library must have been one of the coolest jobs ever.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X