Is Academic Publishing Finally At A Crossroads?

Is Academic Publishing Finally At A Crossroads?
So, where does that leave us? Libraries are grumbling, funders are disquieted, and individual faculty members are happy to sign petitions of protest. But none of this addresses what I see as the key issue: faculty give these journals this much power because they rest entire careers on them. You get tenure based on your academic publications. You submit your publications list when you apply for grants and funding. Look at any academic C.V. and you'll see that it's structured so that the big name journals in which the person has published are listed promptly. It's one of the first things that gets looked at when someone applies for an academic job.


Academic publishing is a de facto third party referee of a scholar's career. You pointed it out very well. Until there's another way to weigh CV's, academic journals will still hold to that power.

In a sense one could say they've been trusted with a mission, and the crazy pricing is simply a side effect. I suspect academic publishing is funding something else... because, really, what do they need so much money for?

A question crosses my mind, now... How would you feel if companies publishing academic journals would be forced to donate a percentage of their earnings to, say, National Science Foundation in the US? Would you still feel it's unfair they're priced so high?

In answer to your question anonymous I guess the companies (especially non-US ones) would wonder why they should pay and would just take the work from the Far East and China instead and not bother with those that demanded recompense ;)
I agree though, there should not be work done for companies working on a for-profit basis being done for free. So that is peer review and editorial work that should get some compensation (whether that is money, discounted books or something else) for every author that does work for them.

What is always missed is the actual cost of Open Access publishing. Unless you are lucky enough to have a NIH funded 12 month mandated OA deposit criteria (or rather publish only in journals that only offer that and don't charge a flat rate whoever you are) it's not cheap. It is in fact yet another level of money that the tax payers of any nation are having to fork out to get published over the print, online, peer review etc etc. If you publish with Elsevier it's $3000 to make it open access within 6 months (as is the mandate in the UK's research councils and Wellcome Foundation) that's a for-profit company. But even the pure OA titles, such as Frontiers will charge you 2000 euro's to be published (albeit a lot faster). Now this is much fairer but it's still an additional 2000 euros you are spending that you didn't have to spend before.
And who pays for that? The tax payer.

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