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Accademic journals: are they monopolistic paracites?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by The English Assassin View Post
    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...
    The New World for New Worlds?


    • #17
      A multiversal organization? I have the perfect URL in mind. How about Oh wait!
      Infinite complexity according to simple rules.


      • #18
        Originally posted by Doc View Post
        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.
        I like where I work now, but yes, the folks at the library were a special bunch. Widely read doesn't begin to cover it!
        Dave Hardy

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



        • #19

          Wanderlust posted this link in the Q&A, and I thought it was appropriate here, too.


          • #20
            It's kicking off!

            Scientists boycott Elsevier

            I hope they stick it out, and the other disciplines are watching.


            • #21
              The Wellcome Trust adds its weight to the campaign.
              If the Gates Foundation and national funding councils follow suit, there may actually be real change afoot!
              Last edited by Rothgo; 04-10-2012, 02:55 AM.


              • #22
                Rothgo beat me to the punch with his link.
                I was thinking of that story as well.

                Working in a modest uni in Japan I have a hard time to get access to English language journals, but I can get almost any Japanese language one through an interlibrary loan with the national library in Tokyo. If I can't borrow the actual book I can usually get a copy sent to my school.

                Here are a few more links that cover the same story from different countries.





                And even more on the google search.
                No idea how far things have progressed beyond a shouting match though.


                • #23
                  Leader in today's Economist (14th April)

                  (EDIT: Here's the link, but not sure it's available to non-subscribers:

                  Academic publishing

                  Open sesame

                  When research is funded by the taxpayer or by charities, the results should be available to all without charge

                  PUBLISHING obscure academic journals is that rare thing in the media industry: a licence to print money. An annual subscription to Tetrahedron, a chemistry journal, will cost your university library $20,269; a year of the Journal of Mathematical Sciences will set you back $20,100. In 2011 Elsevier, the biggest academic-journal publisher, made a profit of £768m ($1.2 billion) on revenues of £2.1 billion. Such margins (37%, up from 36% in 2010) are possible because the journals’ content is largely provided free by researchers, and the academics who peer-review their papers are usually unpaid volunteers. The journals are then sold to the very universities that provide the free content and labour. For publicly funded research, the result is that the academics and taxpayers who were responsible for its creation have to pay to read it. This is not merely absurd and unjust; it also hampers education and research.

                  Publishers insist that high prices are necessary to ensure quality and cover the costs of managing the peer-review process, editing and distribution. High margins, they say, are evidence of their efficiency. Clearly the cost of producing a journal is not zero. But the internet means it should be going down, not up. Over the past decade many online journals and article repositories have emerged that are run on a shoestring. Some have been set up by academics who are unhappy with the way academic publishing works. (Since January some 9,500 researchers have joined a boycott of Elsevier.) In several cases the entire editorial boards of existing journals have resigned to start new ones with lower prices and less restricted access.

                  But the incumbent journals are hard to dislodge. Researchers want their work to appear in the most renowned journals to advance their careers. Those journals therefore have the pick of the best papers, remain required reading in their fields and have strong pricing power as a result. What is to be done?

                  There is a simple way both to increase access to publicly funded research and to level the playing field for new journals. Government bodies that fund academic research should require that the results be made available free to the public. So should charities that fund research. This would both broaden access to research and strengthen the hand of “open access” journals, since many researchers would then be unable to publish results in closed ones.

                  Publish or perish
                  There are some hopeful signs. The British government plans to mandate open access to state-funded research. The Wellcome Trust, a medical charity that pumps more than £600m ($950m) a year into research, already requires open access within six months of publication, but the compliance rate is only 55%. The charity says it will “get tough” on scientists who publish in journals that restrict access, for example by withholding future grants, and is also launching its own open-access journal. In America, a recent attempt (backed by journal publishers) to strike down the existing requirement that research funded by the National Institutes of Health should be made available to all online has failed. That is good news, but the same requirement should now be extended to all federally funded research.

                  Open access to research funded by taxpayers or charities need not mean Armageddon for journal publishers. Some have started to embrace open access in limited ways, such as letting academics post their papers on their own websites or putting time limits on their pay barriers. But a strongly enforced open-access mandate for state- and charity-funded research would spur them to do more. The aim of academic journals is to make the best research widely available. Many have ended up doing the opposite. It is time that changed.
                  Last edited by Tom Murphy; 04-13-2012, 12:45 AM. Reason: Added link


                  • #24
                    While I find it hard to understand how a school with such high tuition can't afford to pay for journals Harvard is claiming just that. Harvard is also encouraging academic to stop writing for journals that are behind pay firewalls.

                    If a lot of the big name schools start something like this and offer a reliable solution it could mean a major change in academic publishing, albeit in the far future.



                    • #25
                      I don't think it's the publishing that is the problem, it's the prices. Much of the research is publicly funded - the publisher didn't have to pay for the equipment or the expertise that went into actualy creating the work and the publishers use research staff to review the work for at the most a pittance, so the cost of the journals seems somewhat exaggerated.

                      The public fund the research, hand the results over to a private company for free which then charges the public extortionate amounts to access the data. Basically, the publishers have gotten too greedy.

                      However in these days of on-line publishing, surely the academic community can come up with some kind of co-operative publishing enterprise to compete with the private ones they are complaining about.

                      Perhaps it is too anarchistic for them, but they should be able to come up with their own solution and put the greedy publishers out of business.


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by sandy View Post
                        I don't think it's the publishing that is the problem, it's the prices.
                        You're dead right. I went to a talk on the titanic the other day by a historian who was basically pimping his own book: a 'pop' history book. It sounded pretty good, but more importantly he mentioned that he received a royalty cheque from his publisher for an 'academic' book he wrote a few years ago and it had sold in total only a couple of hundred of copies over a many year period. He said the price was £55! Obviously it is only university libraries that will make this investment. Obviously his pop history books sell a bucket load more... Coincidentally, I heard some other academics on Radio 4 say exactly the same thing. It's impossible to imagine any way to justify these prices.

                        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


                        • #27
                          The insane prices simply show how badly the system is broken, but the ethical problem is one of "gatekeeper access": if it's publically funded research then why allow a private company to control access to it?

                          And lo, another cut to the satus quo model looms: when will be get to the critical1000?
                          Originally posted by The Guardian
                          The government is to unveil controversial plans to make publicly funded scientific research immediately available for anyone to read for free by 2014, in the most radical shakeup of academic publishing since the invention of the internet.

                          Under the scheme, research papers that describe work paid for by the British taxpayer will be free online for universities, companies and individuals to use for any purpose, wherever they are in the world...
                          More here.