Science in the Open » Blog Archive » PolEcon of OA Publishing: What are the assets of a journal?
ab1630's bookmarks 2015-11-20
"This post wasn’t on the original slate for the Political Economics of Publishing series but it seems apposite as the arguments and consequences of the Editorial Board of Lingua resigning en masse to form a new journal published by Ubiquity Press continue to rumble on. The resignation of the editorial board of Lingua from the (Elsevier owned) journal to form a new journal, that is intended to really be “the same journal” raises interesting issues of ownership and messaging. Perhaps even more deeply it raises questions of what the real assets of a journal are. The mutual incomprehension on both sides really arises from very different views of what a journal is and therefore of what the assets are, who controls them, and who owns them. The views of the publisher and the editorial board are so incommensurate as to be almost comical. The views, and more importantly the actions, of the group that really matters, the community that underlies the journal, remains to be seen. I will argue that it is that community that is the most important asset of the strange composite object that is “the journal” and that it is control of that asset that determines how these kinds of process (for as many have noted this is hardly the first time this has happened) play out. The publisher view is a fairly simple one and clearly expressed by Tom Reller in a piece on Elsevier Connect. Elsevier no doubt holds paperwork stating that they own the trademark of the journal name and masthead and other subsidiary rights to represent the journal as continuing the work of the journal first founded in 1949 ... The view of the editorial board is almost diametrically opposed. They see themselves as representing a community of governance and creating and providing the intellectual prestige of the journal. For the editorial board that community prestige is the core asset. With the political shifts of Open Access and digital scholarship questions of governance have started to play into those issues of prestige. Communities and journals that want to position themselves as forward looking, or supporting their community, are becoming increasingly concerned with access and costs. This is painted as a question of principle, but the core underlying concern is the way that political damage caused by lack of access, or by high (perceived) prices will erode the asset value of the prestige that the editorial board has built up through their labour. This comes to a head where the editorial board asks Elsevier to hand over the rights to the journal name ..."
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