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RE: Monopolies in publishing


I've been lurking too long, and I know I'm going to hate myself for doing
this :-)  But here's an interesting thing. What you say is logically and
theoretically correct, but we don't live in a world of logic and theory.
In the world of physics, what you're suggesting doesn't quite stack up -
researchers have access to articles on the pre-print servers and they're
heavily used. So, in fact, an article (or at least something approximating
an equivalent) can and often does 'exist' in two places. And a large
number of institutions still subscribe to physics journals. Why is that?

Terry Hulbert
Institute of Physics Publishing
Institute of Physics
76 Portland Place, London, W1B 1NT, England

>>> jan@biomedcentral.com 07/10/03 05:03pm >>>

It seems so obvious to me that subscription-based scientific journals are
monopoloid. Research articles are only published once. They are by
definition unique. Access to unique research articles is often crucial to
further research. They can only be obtained from one ultimate source
(albeit sometimes via agents). There is no opportunity to go to another,
possibly cheaper, source to find something equivalent, because equivalents
don't exist. So there is no choice if you need the article. No choice in
need means monopoly, no?

Authors of articles *do* have a choice of where to publish (at least where
to submit their papers). They can choose to submit to those journals that
serve their purpose best (e.g. to those that guarantee optimal
dissemination via open access). Open access journals are freely accessible
by the readers. This makes open access journals non-monopoloid.

Jan Velterop
BioMed Central