Modest Proposals for Academic Authors 2012-08-20


“In the scuffles over copyright policies on scholarly articles, what is the academic author to do? First, inform yourself. Find and read the copyright policy of the journals (or refereed conferences) to which you submit the articles describing research results. Find out the subscription price (dead-tree-edition or online) that the publisher charges individuals and institutions, and compare with the norms in your fields and others. Decide for yourself whether your publisher is unduly limiting the spread of ideas, or charging such prices that the effect is the same. Since our fair century has apparently decided that everything should be treated like property, we can apply an economic analysis to the transaction. You did the research and you wrote the scholarly article (um, excuse me, the “content”). Someone paid your salary or your graduate-student stipend, but that someone was not your scholarly journal! In this economic analysis, consider your own economic interests and also consider that you act as the agent of your university or grant-funder who helped pay for the work, presumably for the moral and mutual instruction of man... The consulting-contract model... The typical journal article may represent 1 person-year of work (by a professor and some graduate students) valued in the range of $100,000 or more. Similarly, when a professor is asked to referee a paper, which takes hours of work, that refereeing work has substantial value. This value is not necessarily realizable in cash in the open market... the scholar engaged in the work in order to benefit humanity (see Jefferson 1813) and (also) to gain peer recognition. Therefore, if the journal intends to lock away the work behind a high pay wall–thus depriving you and humanity of the respective benefits described above–then don’t give them the ‘content,’ sell your ‘content’ to the publisher. Next time an Elsevier journal solicits a paper from you, just tell ‘em the price is $10,000, or $100,000, or whatever. When Elsevier sends you a paper to referee, send them your standard consulting contract at however many dollars per hour. (Make sure to get a retainer up front!) Thus, we do not exactly boycott Elsevier, we just do business with them. The charitable donations model Suppose your publisher is a nonprofit organization (such as ACM, IEEE, Usenix) that benefits your field–by organizing the editing and dissemination of knowledge, by running conferences that bring scholars together. Suppose you notice that its subscription prices are reasonable, the author contract does not take overly exclusive rights, and so on. You could decide that you will make a charitable donation of several thousand dollars in kind by submitting your paper for publication. That is, sign their standard author contract! You lose (and they gain) some of the economic benefit, but not all: most of it will “leak away” to humanity (see Jefferson 1813) and to you (eternal fame, promotion, salary increase). This is the model I use with ACM and IEEE, and I think it is a reasonable compromise. But I know people who believe that ACM and IEEE have fallen behind the curve, that their copyright contracts are too grabby. Those scholars may prefer one of the solutions that I’ll describe in my next article.”



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.licensing oa.comment oa.universities oa.elsevier oa.copyright oa.societies oa.costs oa.prices oa.funders oa.acm oa.hei oa.libre



Date tagged:

08/20/2012, 18:13

Date published:

04/19/2012, 16:25