Publishing old guard not for changing - The Common Room Blog | The Australian 2012-05-31


“The Ancien Regime in academic publishing ain’t going anywhere.  At least not without a blue it obviously assumes open access advocates aren’t organised enough to fight.  Somebody carelessly left correspondence between and notes on discussion between scholarly agencies and individuals representing academic publishers in the Common Room the other day.  And what dismal reading they make, reflecting the publisher’s strategy to concede nothing in a way that would strike Klemens von Metternich as unyielding. The talks followed the NH&MRC decision that journal articles resulting from research it funds should be open for all to read after 12 months  Seems straightforward; for-profit publishers get first crack at a quid out of the copy but after a year everybody who does not have access to expensive academic journals can read the results of research the public paid for.  But (and I know you are going to be surprised to read this) it’s not.  For a start one publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, says authors can use its Online Open program.  But this is not quite the access issue sorted. ‘With OnlineOpen the author, the author’s funding agency, or the author’s institution pays a fee to ensure that the article is made available to non-subscribers upon publication,’ the wiley Blackwells write.  Not to worry, they also offer Wiley Open Access , which publishes peer-reviewed journals available to everybody to read.  So for publicly funded researchers working in one of the fields covered everything is ok. ‘Fraid not. Articles that make the academic grade also require cash to appear. This does not strike the Common Room as quite what the open access movement has in mind, with publishers still making a margin on papers they get free.  Heaven forfend journal publishers should drop the digital drawbridge – they are at the heart of academic research, scholarship would not survive without the vast collection of journals they produce and they are entitled to make money,  But their business model dates from another age, when publishing required enormous resources to fund paper and presses, to pay for post and packing, to secure subscriptions. And while digital archiving and indexing require continuing investment the Common Room would take some convincing that production cost aren’t lower than they used to be.  Sure publishers have every right to charge what the market will bear, but this only works when readers and researchers have no alternative.  And the market now has options that did not exist a generation back, and as open access advocates make clear, researchers are less inclined to provide work for free and pay for the privilege of publishing in journals published at the pleasure of owners not authors.  The fate of the metternichs of the music industry demonstrates what happens to old regimes which think the unchanging natural order is what suits them.” 


From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.policies oa.comment oa.government oa.australia oa.funders oa.fees oa.embargoes oa.nhmrc

Date tagged:

05/31/2012, 11:50

Date published:

05/31/2012, 07:50