Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

02/03/2012

Academic Publishing and The Free and Easy Movement of Information


Big Journal Publishers Bullying Academic Researchers

More tonight on the growing revolution among academics RE academic publishing. Please refer to my Writers Welcome Blog post Academic Publishing is a Good Gig if You Can Get It – And a Rip Off for Creators for more background.

Researchers may even have to pay to get their work published in prestigious journals (some probably do already) in order to keep costs from being sky-high to consumer readers of scientific journals.

Damn, imagine charging cash-strapped youngsters for publishing new research data! That’s akin to charging Matt Damon for the privilege of performing on-screen rather than paying him for his on-screen content.

These put upon and victimized, young researchers are rated by and advance their careers according to how often they publish and the reputation of the journals they publish in – Sort of like extortion, slave labor and stealing candy from babies, if you ask me 😦

This enlightening piece is from The Economist

The price of information

Academics are starting to boycott a big publisher of journals

SOMETIMES it takes but a single pebble to start an avalanche. On January 21st Timothy Gowers, a mathematician at Cambridge University, wrote a blog post outlining the reasons for his longstanding boycott of research journals published by Elsevier. This firm, which is based in the Netherlands, owns more than 2,000 journals, including such top-ranking titles as Cell and the Lancet. However Dr Gowers, who won the Fields medal, mathematics’s equivalent of a Nobel prize, in 1998, is not happy with it, and he hoped his post might embolden others to do something similar.

It did. More than 2,700 researchers from around the world have so far signed an online pledge set up by Tyler Neylon, a fellow-mathematician who was inspired by Dr Gowers’s post, promising not to submit their work to Elsevier’s journals, or to referee or edit papers appearing in them. That number seems, to borrow a mathematical term, to be growing exponentially. If it really takes off, established academic publishers might find they have a revolution on their hands.

A bundle of trouble

Dr Gowers’s immediate gripes are threefold. First, that Elsevier charges too much for its products. Second, that its practice of “bundling” journals forces libraries which wish to subscribe to a particular publication to buy it as part of a set that includes several others they may not want. And third, that it supports legislation such as the Research Works Act, a bill now before America’s Congress that would forbid the government requiring that free access be given to taxpayer-funded research.

Elsevier insists it is being misrepresented. The firm is certainly in rude financial health. In 2010 it made a £724m ($1.16 billion) profit on revenues of £2 billion, a margin of 36%. But it charges average industry prices for its products, according to Nick Fowler, its director of global academic relations, and its price rises have been lower than those imposed by other publishers over the past few years. Elsevier’s enviable margins, Dr Fowler says, are simply a consequence of the firm’s efficient operation.

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