Life in a Liminal Space; Or, The Journey Shapes the Destination - The Scholarly Kitchen
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-01-14
"Another important factor in our journey so far is that in those negotiations for partnerships between publishers and societies, we’re seeing an increased emphasis on publishing in quantity – remember that under the APC and the TA model, you get paid for every article you publish, so more articles means more revenue. This creates another tricky balance. High-quality, selective, flagship journals are essential for selling subscription packages. Libraries want to subscribe to the best journals, or at least the journals their readers see as most important. But flagship journals publish a small number of articles and reject a lot of submissions. They usually have higher overheads and lower outputs than journals with less rigorous acceptance requirements. So for the subscription short term, you need these expensive-to-run, low-volume flagship journals, but for the OA long term, they cost too much and publish too little to be highly profitable. We’re starting to see a changing attitude from publishers toward these flagship titles, with an emphasis on lowering acceptance standards and publishing more articles over time. Some publishers go as far as requiring quotas for the journals – you must accept X number of articles per year.... In an OA world, you want to emulate MDPI and have low-overhead, high-volume journals and, as subscription wanes, to rid your program of those pesky, small, high-quality titles with high expenses and low publication volumes. So what emerges from our journey is publishers investing heavily in low-rejection, high-volume journals.... This scenario has the most prestigious journals staying in-house where they can remain profitable, but most other prestige journals falling back to independent status, where they will be run with rigor and care by mission-driven research societies rather than profit-driven companies. But remember, all the tools and infrastructure needed to make these journals happen have been bought by the big commercial publishers, and so rather than working together as partners, the societies now become paying clients to the publishers, purchasing the technologies and services they need to keep their journals running.... Are there routes that don’t require success to be based on scale and output volume? There are lots of experiments going on now that essentially ask libraries to pay for things they can otherwise get for free. While promising, I’m concerned that the frame shift needed, both for the library and the university, going from being a place that brings in money to spend on itself to more the mindset of an investment portfolio manager, sending money out into the world for the benefit of the larger community, may be both fragile and take a significant amount of time, given the priorities of academic institutions and how slowly they move.... By examining where these efforts have succeeded, it becomes clear that investment in infrastructure needs to start with a business plan for the long term, with an assumption that funding is going to be limited and driving a financial surplus to ensure long term sustainability is essential...."
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