Yet more on academic publishing

I’m making last-minute preparations before I head off to England for a month (will be back in June). I don’t know how much I’ll post when I’m there – I’ll be extremely busy going through the libraries/archives at Oxford, Cambridge and the British Library. I do have a few posts scheduled to go out over the next week or two, so keep an eye on the blog. If you haven’t already, now’s a good time to sign up for the RSS feed.

In unrelated news, open-access seems to be picking up momentum in academia. Now Harvard’s faculty advisory council is warning that even Harvard can’t afford current journal subscription costs – their journal subscription costs now total $3.5 million per year and increase every year. The report mentions the usual abuses: providers bundling useful with many more less-used journals and thus charging a much higher price, 100%+ inflation rate for subscription costs, secret contract terms (don’t want different libraries comparing prices!), publisher profit margins of 35% for scholarship written by academics (whose research is usually funded with tax-payer-supported salaries and grants), peer-reviewed by other academics, and purchased for and read by other academics (the academic gift economy). Not to mention that with the e-versions you are only renting access to the journal; the library does not own a copy.

They also encourage the usual solutions: publishing in open-source journals, scholars resigning from editorial boards of journals that refuse to moderate their prices, insisting of different subscription models… If Harvard scholars start abandoning the journals, perhaps others will be empowered to do so as well.

Stay tuned…


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