[Vwoolf] R: Open Access

Mark Hussey mhussey at verizon.net
Tue Nov 25 10:07:38 EST 2014

Thank you for all these responses.  I know my “give away for nothing” phrase was provocative!

Just to be clear, I am particularly interested in how academics in the UK feel about their government’s requirement as I believe it will affect their willingness to publish in US-based journals.  The examples given are interesting, but do not fit the case of a very small academic press; many scholarly journal editors in the US, for example, perform their work for nothing or for perhaps a course release.  This issue has, naturally, been of great interest on the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) listserv too as people begin to try to fathom what is going on in UK scholarly publishing.


I look forward to more points of view!


From: Vwoolf [mailto:vwoolf-bounces at lists.osu.edu] On Behalf Of t.prudente at talk21.com
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 3:47 AM
To: Vwoolf at lists.osu.edu
Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] R: Open Access


Dear all,


as an Italian researcher, I feel that some more detailed explanation on the "peculiar" situation of Academic publishing in Italy is here needed, so as make - perhaps - Francesca's view more understandable.


Academic publishing in Italy is mainly - if not entirely - based on a "pay to publish" system. Individual researchers sign a contract with a publisher in which they accept to pay a certain amount of money (depending on the publisher, the book's length, the number of copies arranged for, etc...) and they usually pay by using the research money that the Ministry of Research provides them with for their research projects. Thus, when Francesca talks about public financing to academic publishing she actually refers to this system, which does not entail public money to be given directly to publishers (they are private), but money that is given to researchers and that they usually employ for this kind of publishing. Now, a system of this kind presents of course a set of problems that, in my opinion, deeply affect research in Italy: in the majority of cases, no proper peer-reviewing is performed on manuscripts or articles (as long as you pay, you will be published), books and journals have not a proper circulation (the publisher is not very committed to do any effort to selling them, as it has not, in the end, invested any money on it, on the contrary, it has already had its profits from the researcher's payment), and public research money that could and should be used differently (organization of conferences, research travel etc...) goes instead almost entirely in this system. I don't know if this "pay to publish" system is also equally pervasive in other countries. Personally, I have chosen, from the very beginning of my career, to publish exclusively abroad in order to "escape" this system, to which I deeply object, and a few colleagues of mine are doing the same. And, publishing abroad, I was never required to pay money and I went through genuine peer-reviewing processes. 


Within the context that I have described, open access has indubitably represented a positive change, at least in Italy, as, as Francesca remarks, open access journals are obliged to perform peer-reviewing and - as long as I understand, not being an expert in OA - publishing costs have sensibly decreased. I suspect, then, that the impact and consequences of OA are probably different for each country, depending on their publishing system, and even the macro-division between "public" and "private" systems presents further ramifications amplifying possible differences.


I hope this helps, and, especially, that I have not misinterpreted what Francesca, as an expert in OA, intended to highlight.











From: Caroline Webb <caroline.webb at newcastle.edu.au>
To: "Vwoolf at lists.osu.edu" <Vwoolf at lists.osu.edu> 
Sent: Tuesday, 25 November 2014, 3:58
Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] R: Open Access


I think what’s meant by “research outputs should not be financed more than once by public money” is not that the journals/presses are public but the academic research is.  European universities, like nearly all in Australia and like many but very much *not* all in the US, are public institutions funded in whole or in part by the government (in Germany it’s just become whole, in Australia it’s a rapidly decreasing part), and most of the grants available to individual researchers are also government-funded.  Hence the public is paying, in the form of taxes, for the academics at those publicly-funded institutions to perform research.  The theory then is that that research should be openly available to the people who paid for it.


Caroline Webb

The University of Newcastle, Australia


From: Vwoolf [mailto:vwoolf-bounces+caroline.webb=newcastle.edu.au at lists.osu.edu] On Behalf Of June Cummins
Sent: Tuesday, 25 November 2014 9:48 AM
To: vwoolf at lists.osu.edu
Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] R: Open Access


In the United States, academic publishing is not financed by public money except in cases where the press hosting the journal is in a public university and even then, very little of the press's finances are coming from "the public."  Academic publishing is paid for through subscriptions, which are owned either by individuals or more often by universities. Perhaps this basic difference in academic publishing is the reason U.S. scholars don't understand European methods of making scholarship available.

June Cummins

On 11/24/14, 4:39 PM, Francesca wrote:

Dear professor Hussey,


I dare answer your question even though I do not belong to the academic world; I just have a degree (I wrote a dissertation about The Voyage Out) and a PhD (again about travel literature) but I am a librarian who works in Italy, at the Library System of the University of Trento.


One of my professional tasks is related to Open Access. I will not bother you all advocating for OA (there are a lot of reliable websites you can read in order to get the information you may be interested in) but I will just add some words about your remark:


>> journals that give their content away for nothing


OA journals are peer-reviewed journals which do not give away *their* content for nothing (I am highlighting “their” because the content’s rights should not be considered as “the publisher’s”, but should be retained by the author…). 

These journals are just based on a different economic model. 


Research outputs (articles) should not be financed more than once by public money. There is no reason whatsoever for publicly financing a research project at the begining, then selling the output to a commercial publisher, which must be re-paid again by libraries (subscriptions) to enable researchers and students access the article.


In OA, Universities and researchers pay just once (with research grants) for a paper to be published. After that, nothing more is due to the publisher; the paper goes through the journal's normal peer review process and the article is then freely and openly available because it has already been paid.


It is so sad that after eleven years from the Berlin Declaration there should be still so many misunderstandings and biases about Open Access. I do not ask you to adhere to OA movement of course, but I would consider myself professionally satisfied if an unbiased knowledge of OA principles were slowly achieved.


Sincecerly yours (and apologizing for my English),

Francesca Valentini





Da: Vwoolf [mailto:vwoolf-bounces+frvln=hotmail.com at lists.osu.edu] Per conto di Mark Hussey
Inviato: lunedì 24 novembre 2014 22.53
A: VWOOLF at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
Oggetto: [Vwoolf] Open Access


Do those of you likely to publish in US-based journals (such as, for example, Woolf Studies Annual!) have any concerns about the UK government’s forthcoming requirement that to be counted you may only publish in journals that give their content away for nothing?  


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June Cummins, Associate Professor
Director, Graduate Program
Department of English and Comparative Literature
San Diego State University
jcummins at mail.sdsu.edu
SDSU Children’s Literature Program
 <http://childlit.sdsu.edu/> childlit.sdsu.edu

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