Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

05/05/2013

Academic Publishing – Re ‘Open Access’ – More Intrigue, More Progress


Piles of Profit

Piles of Profit

I have often championed the open access to research done and published in prestigious academic journals; especially without proper compensation given to the writer/researchers (also peer reviewers) — and have stood against all the resulting meaty profits going to for-profit academic publishers (like Elsevier).

These academic publishers have had a free f—king ride for way too long. ‘The current enterprise—selling the results of other people’s work, submitted free of charge and vetted for nothing by third parties in a process called peer review, has been immensely profitable.’

In addition, the greater part of this research is paid for on the taxpayers’ dime! AND the poor subsequent researchers (and their academic institutions) needing to access this previous research for further research have to pay exorbitant fees (even if the research was done at their own institution) — Talk about giving away all your rights!

From The Economist:

Academic publishing  

Free-for-all

 

Open-access scientific publishing is gaining ground  

AT THE beginning of April, Research Councils UK, a conduit through which the government transmits taxpayers’ money to academic researchers, changed the rules on how the results of studies it pays for are made public. From now on they will have to be published in journals that make them available free—preferably immediately, but certainly within a year.

In February the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy told federal agencies to make similar plans. A week before that, a bill which would require free access to government-financed research after six months had begun to wend its way through Congress. The European Union is moving in the same direction. So are charities. And SCOAP3, a consortium of particle-physics laboratories, libraries and funding agencies, is pressing all 12 of the field’s leading journals to make the 7,000 articles they publish each year free to read. For scientific publishers, it seems, the party may soon be over.

It has, they would have to admit, been a good bash. The current enterprise—selling the results of other people’s work, submitted free of charge and vetted for nothing by third parties in a process called peer review, has been immensely profitable. Elsevier, a Dutch firm that is the world’s biggest journal publisher, had a margin last year of 38% on revenues of £2.1 billion ($3.2 billion). Springer, a German firm that is the second-biggest journal publisher, made 36% on sales of €875m ($1.1 billion) in 2011 (the most recent year for which figures are available). Such firms are now, though, faced with competitors set up explicitly to cover only their costs. Some rely on charity, but many have a proper business model: academics pay a fee to be published. So, on the principle of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, commercial publishers, too, are setting up open-access subsidiaries.

Open for business

The biggest is BioMed Central, part of Springer. It was founded in 2000 and in February it published its 150,000th paper and also launched its 250th periodical, catchily entitled the Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins Including Tropical Diseases. Days later Nature Publishing Group (NPG), which owns Nature and 81 other journals, and which itself belongs to the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, another German firm, bought a majority stake in Frontiers, a Swiss open-access platform with 30 titles in 14 scientific fields. In combination, NPG and Frontiers publish 46 open-access journals, and 7,300 free papers a year.

In the past year Elsevier has more than doubled the number of open-access journals it publishes, to 39. And even in those that usuNature,ally charge readers (such as Cell and the Lancet), paying a publication fee makes a paper available free immediately.

Outsell, a Californian consultancy, estimates that open-access journals generated $172m in 2012. That was just 2.8% of the total revenue journals brought their publishers (some $6 billion a year), but it was up by 34% from 2011 and is expected to reach $336m in 2015. The number of open-access papers is forecast to grow from 194,000 (out of a total of 1.7m publications) to 352,000 in the same period.

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