[Vwoolf] R: Open Access

Jeremy Hawthorn jeremy.hawthorn at ntnu.no
Wed Nov 26 03:09:04 EST 2014

I would just like to register my agreement with everything that Nora M 
writes. There are publishers and publishers. Even among commercial 
publishers there are companies that treat their authors well and that 
play a crucial role in maintaining academic standards through peer 
review, effective copy editing and so on. And let's not forget marketing 
. . . I firmly believe that there is a special place in heaven for 
editors and copy editors - a place where there are no typos, spelling 
mistakes or grammatical errors. Or complaining authors.

But commercial publishers are not immune from the pressures of the 
market. I wrote a textbook back in the 80s which is still appearing in 
new editions, but the company publishing it has changed hands through 
takeovers 5 times. And the role of predatory commercial publishers that, 
following the lead of Robert Maxwell in Britain in the 60s and 70s, 
bought up important peer-reviewed journals and then jacked up the price 
to what the market would take (and more) should not be ignored. 30 years 
ago I think that the average British academic library spent 80% plus of 
its money on books. I think that it is now under 20%. Cartels of 
publishers won't allow university libraries to subscribe to individual 
journals: you either subscribe to a full list, or no deal. And once 
libraries have subscribed to very expensive journals in medicine, 
technology and hard science there is not much left for the humanities.

Against this backdrop the role of university presses is even more 
crucial than it was in the past, In the US more such presses have 
survived; in the UK there are few left. Their importance should be 
recognised and their position defended.

Jeremy H

On 25.11.2014 21:20, Nora Malone wrote:
> For what it's worth, a little perspective from the other side of the 
> aisle. I work as professional editor (not a faculty member, but paid 
> staff) at a large university press in the US, and have spent my career 
> in publishing. I edit an academic journal in the social sciences (not 
> open access).
> First, I would just like to emphasize that publishing costs money, 
> even if it happens online. There seems to be this myth that if you 
> remove paper from the equation, all of the other costs associated with 
> publishing will magically vanish, but that is simply not true. Open 
> access journals still have costs (hosting a website, maintaining a 
> website, updating a website, communicating with authors and reviewers 
> if they use them, probably some minimal permissions and fact-checking 
> work), most of which get pushed to authors. Some get pushed to authors 
> in an obvious way through the publication fee that authors must pay, 
> and others get pushed to authors in less obvious ways (for example, 
> the need to solicit a professional copy editor yourself if the journal 
> doesn't provide one, or, I suppose, the converse cost of risking 
> having typos and grammatical errors in work published under your name).
> I would also question the motivation of a journal with a financial 
> model based on author fees. It would seem to me that, in order to make 
> money, the journal would want to publish as many articles as possible 
> without paying much regard to their quality. Contrast that with a 
> traditional subscription model, which motivates a journal to publish 
> only the best articles in order to maintain and build its subscription 
> base. Sometimes, the decisions a traditional journal makes might mean 
> that good articles never see the light of day, perhaps because they 
> would only appeal to a very small number of scholars or because they 
> don't have big-name authors. But most of the time, I would argue, 
> traditional journals are just aiming to provide readers with the very 
> best scholarship, whether by rejecting articles that don't do much to 
> advance knowledge or by helping authors of promising but problematic 
> articles to undergo rigorous revisions.
> The call to make scholarship available to students and researchers at 
> all universities, not just those who can afford it, is an important 
> moral imperative. But, given the tight margins that most traditional 
> publishers are dealing with, I worry that open access journals will 
> undercut traditional publishing to the point of near-extinction. In 
> fact, in the US, many university presses have already been shut down. 
> I would urge you all to keep in mind the role that university presses 
> like Oxford University Press and the University of Chicago have played 
> in professionalizing editorial work and establishing and maintaining 
> editorial standards that reach far beyond academic publishing. I 
> think, for example, of the editors at the University of Chicago Press 
> whose day-to-day work serves as the basis for their regular updates to 
> the Chicago Manual of Style (one of the most commonly used guides for 
> writing and editing in the US). What happens to the state of written 
> communication if those editors lose their jobs? If we stop paying for 
> editorial work, will professional editors cease to exist? I would 
> argue that, if people feel that traditional journals have higher 
> standards than open access journals, it is because, at least for now, 
> they mostly do. (Something like this, for example, could never happen 
> at a traditional journal: 
> http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/11/24/scientific-paper-of-the-day/) So 
> how much are we willing to satisfice on the quality of writing, 
> layout, and rhetoric in order to make scholarship more freely 
> available (or how much will we be forced to by budgetary constraints)? 
> Or is there a way for open access journals to exist alongside 
> traditional journals without financially undercutting them? I will be 
> interested to see what the new ruling in the UK means for traditional 
> publishing.
> Nora

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.osu.edu/pipermail/vwoolf/attachments/20141126/e49c6b42/attachment.html>

More information about the Vwoolf mailing list