Open Access and IR Journals 2012-06-25


“ ... at BISA/ISA in Edinburgh, a number of people agitated for open access for the Review of International Studies (RIS) at its relaunch event. It seems that there are very few significant IR journals in a position to go open access. The obvious candidates would be journals associated with professional associations -- in addition to RIS, that would include the International Studies Association journals, the European Journal of International Relations, and some others. But at least BISA and SGIR (soon to be EISA) use the revenue from the journals to support their activities. That leaves the independent foundation journals, such as International Organization, as the most likely candidates for moving to open access. Open-access journals sustain themselves through some combination of subsidy and pay-for-publication. In essence, authors provide a fee upon acceptance ... I can imagine a lot of IR scholars recoiling at paying such a fee. The math suggests that their institutions (if they are associated with one) should be happy to fork over the money, as doing so is cheaper than subscribing to journals. But right now, at least, institutions already pay for standard IR journals, so the open-access journals represent an additional fee. The graphic comes from the Chronicle of Higher Education, which, in 2011, reported on a study highlighting the two biggest hurdles to open access: ‘A new survey of nearly 40,000 scholars across the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences shows that almost 90 percent of them believe open-access journals are good for the research community and the individual researcher. But charges for publishing and the perception that open-access journals are of lower quality than traditional publications deter scholars from the open-access route, according to the Study of Open Access Publishing report, by an international team of researchers.’ These concerns are likely to be a particular problem in IR. The aforementioned factors suggest that most open-access journals will be both digital-only and new. Given the field's elitism concerning ‘journal hierarchy,’ and its general conservatism when it comes to all things smacking of ‘web 2.0’, those are both significant barriers to success. I think it would be very difficult to ask IR scholars to pay-for-publication in an unranked, digital-only journal... This reticence comes despite the fact that, if mid-tier blogs such as the Duck of Minerva are any indication, more people will read a given piece in an open-access digital journal than a typical one in a top-tier -- let alone a second-tier -- traditional journal...So the question remains: how to finance this kind of endeavor? ... An online open-access journal could firmly break with the tyranny of the quarterly volume. No more ‘online first’ as an orphan, uncertain category. The editors simply need to keep the standards of the journal high -- as reflected in quality and acceptance rate -- and they can publish pieces whenever they are accepted and processed. Volume numbers would persist, but as temporal markers for the purpose of citation rather than as bundled artifacts. Because the content would be ungated, it would be even easier to integrate the journal into a blogging and social-media environment than it would be for a traditional publication. One could build an intellectual community and ensure repeat visitors -- and with them, greater likelihood that articles would be read and cited. But, even if we could somehow come up with the funds, the experiment strikes me as pretty high risk. We would need to convince some high-profile scholars to provide quality pieces -- ones good enough to survive rigorous peer review -- to legitimize the endeavor. We'd need to convince reviewers to take it seriously. And there are a lot of other institutional barriers. I guess what I'm talking about is, in essence, a Duck of Minerva journal, but (probably) with a less whimsical name. I wonder what our readers think of that? ...”



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Date tagged:

06/25/2012, 15:21

Date published:

06/25/2012, 15:44