[Coral-List] More on open access
southern_caribbean at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 18 14:37:57 EDT 2008
A final comment on the emerging model for specialized publishing.
Besides and before being an (almost) full-time environmentalist, I ran a small publishing company with regional aspirations, producing specialty local publications e.g Eco Aruba magazine and other specialty publications a.o in the field of telecommunications.
The specialty journal and periodicals publishing industry is almost hermetically sealed off to newcomers for competition and this is achieved by a modus operandi in which peer reviewers, productions staffers and specialized personnel are hard to come by and long-time standing agreements and academic traditions make it easy to "lock in" resources not of the financial kind.
When Terra Publishing (this publishing company) tried to investigate the possibility of producing specialty magazines e.g. on specific sustainable development for the wider Caribbean region we ran into a "publishing keiretsu" in the publishing sector if you will, in which the reluctance of the academe to go with new ventures can be a insurmountable threshold to new format journals being launched.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule, and one very delightful free distribution publication to which we subscribe, is the Marine Turtle Network's journal.
Such publications stay afloat because of the willingness of authors to submit, the dedicated reviewers and production staff and because of the donations, grants and subsidies received by the magazine.
I would recommend looking at http://www.arxiv.org to get a look at the emerging model for peer review and pre-peer review.
There is a long way to go before new models for publishing which focus on online open access and online competitively priced access will emerge.
A driving force behind this could be the need to reduce the use of paper for printed materials, which need to be physically transported at (great cost), whereas downloaded paid publications can be locally printed, all factors reducing cost of publishing and production.
environmentalist and publisher
Richard Dunne <RichardPDunne at aol.com> wrote: Coral Listers
The posts by Rainbow Warriors certainly present an interesting angle on
this subject but I wonder whether they are entirely accurate.
For example the last post mentioned the News Corporation as being a
publisher of "scientific journals". I am by no means an expert on this,
but as far as I am aware the News Corporation does not publish any
scientific journals - many newspapers and TV channels and Harper Collins
books but not scientific journals.
We are also given the picture of global publishing powerhouses buying
up scientific journals led by tycoons who are growing richer and richer,
and of a scientific publishing industry which is a reflection of the
19th/early 20th century. I find this a little hard to swallow. True, the
world has a history of self enrichment where any form of trade is
involved. However, publishing costs money, particularly in the
specialised areas that we are concerned with. Someone, somewhere has to
pay for this activity. Should it be the reader/viewer (as it is with
books and newspapers, and television), should it be the grant funding
agencies, or the author, or perhaps someone else, I have heard
advertisers suggested? Paul Muir also adds "The journals then get these
articles reviewed and edited by other researchers for free". That is not
entirely accurate. These days a journal has to maintain expensive
electronic peer review websites, all editing is not free, particularly
the final stages to make a paper ready for publication. True, there is
no payment for peer review but then so also is there no charge for the
author to submit and publish under this model. Perhaps then the peer
review system has evolved historically as a trade off between a freedom
to publish balanced by a willingness to contribute to peer review
without payment. Perhaps this is a commendable ideal.
These posts also do not discuss how the new publishing organisations
such as the Public Library of Science (PLoS) fit into this 19th/early
20th century model. These publishers frequently claim to be non profit
making yet charge authors large sums to publish (PLos Biology US$2,700 -
which they also say do not represent the full cost). Perhaps we ought to
be more concerned with this emerging model which whilst achieving true
Open Access comes at considerable cost to the author. What do authors
from less wealthy countries/ research organisations think of this. Worse
still if we read the interview (commended to us by Marc Kochzius) with
Richard Smith on the board of PLoS, who advocates the change to true
Open Access we find quotes such as: "Perhaps [publishers] will end up
charging quite a lot for actually publishing an article. For example, if
you're going to publish in Nature or Science it might cost you Euro
30,000". .. "I'm not saying this will happen. But when it comes to the
publication of clinical trials Euro 30,000 isn't so much. Such a trial
might have cost Euro 20 million." I find such sentiments somewhat worrying.
Nor does it appear that authors are on a level playing field. As Marc
Kochzius rightly points out, for US Government employees the copyright
lies with the government (not the author) and cannot be transferred to a
journal. In these circumstances, journals have special clauses which
apply to how the material may be used. Sometimes a similar situation
arises with UK government employees. Why should we have these anomalies
for these authors and these countries? Presumably under the new Open
Access model (e.g., PLoS) these authors achieve no preferential
treatment and the government accepts that it must pay the publication
The Rainbow Warriors conclude: "Once the scientific community realizes
that it has a role to play in this process change will come as market
forces will be called into play." Many of us will be well aware that we
have a role to play. Perhaps we should welcome the choice that is
available in the present market. We can choose to publish in a journal
with no charge (even for colour figures), or we can choose another that
has page charges, and to these we can add the purchase of the
publisher's open access. Alternatively we can pay one of the new Open
Access journals. We can choose a journal which only publishes
electronically, or go to one that also produces hard copy. We can also
choose a society journal which will be distributed to the members of the
society as well as to libraries and institutions. We can try for high or
low impact factor journals. We can choose a journal which gives us a PDF
of the article or one that gives reprints. All this choice is surely a
good thing. I personally rue the day that I am given no choice but to
pay US$2,700, or more.
If Open Access is the ideal, it will need to be financed from somewhere.
Ultimately it will involve a redistribution of funding from
subscriptions either to grants or to some supra national journal or
research funding body (perhaps UNESCO). All publishers will have their
part to play in this evolution. If funding is through the grant making
bodies then one thing is certain, namely that the research freedom and
the ability to publish that presently exists will be squeezed out as the
power increasingly moves to the funding agencies. Perhaps that is not
Richard P Dunne
West Briscoe, Baldersdale, Barnard Castle, Co Durham, DL12 9UP. UK
Tel +44 1833 650059
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