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Posts Tagged ‘publishing

I read this article yesterday, The Fallacy of Open-Access Publication.

Before anyone processes the problems with some current implementations of “open” access publications, they need to be aware of an even more fundamental problem. The article described it succinctly and accurately:

Publishers are getting rich on the backs of underfunded academic libraries and the unpaid labor of academics who serve as editors, reviewers, and authors. That system is unsustainable.

Anyone who thinks that being a professor is living high up on the food chain does not understand the academic ecosystem. Professors have to buy in to a culture and live with rules long established before they were.

How bad has the situation become with publishers driven only by profit?

Open access has turned out to be a misnomer… open access is clearly not freely open to the scholars who are required to pay exorbitant fees to publish their results, often out of their own pockets. Graduate students who wish to publish two open-access articles a year in the journals of their choice might need to use more than a quarter of their annual income to do so, if they don’t have large grants to cover the fees.

How might scholars stop this rot? The author of the article suggested that scholars supported academic or scientific societies that were non or low-profit. These groups pursue the betterment of their fields, not the profiteering by publishing companies. Let’s not make the open access cookie crumble.
 

Yesterday I reflected on the moral dilemma of playing the research game because it benefits only a few stakeholders. Today I continue with the processes of publishing research.

Most academics review articles and serve on editorial boards because it looks great on their CVs. For a few, this also provides power to lord over others by rejecting papers in the name of “objective” reviews. The same might be said of committees that determine disbursement of funds for research.

But all that is child’s play when compared to the ruse of publishers.

With one hand they pull in reviewers of journal papers for free (it is a service academics provide for one another after all). With the other, the publishers collect money by charging top dollar to libraries, organizations, and individuals who want journal collections or specific papers.

What I have reflected on is not news. In 2002, Frey compared the publishing process to prostitution. PhD Comics had an amusing take on this in 2011.


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The open movement is a disruptive process that threatens the membership and rules of the game of research as currently played.

Open practice champions like Martin Weller do great work in this respect. His recent blog entry on the benefits of being open is a must-read.

Influential bodies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are insisting that research data and publications be shared with the Creative Commons Attribution licence.

A few local universities and agencies have shared some materials openly, but they are an insignificant drop in the research bucket.

Not only is the rest of published research is not so freely shared, researchers are complicit by playing to the rules set by publishers, universities, and grant bodies.

If you are not an academic, you should be morally outraged. If you are, you should reflect critically on the state of the playing field.


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