[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Open Access to Research Is Inevitable, Libraries Are Told

>Are the established brands continuing to produce the kind of 
>work that made the brands valuable in the first place?  If the 
>answer is no, there is trouble ahead (for them).

OA was largely a response to the failure of commercial publishers 
to provide adequate support for scholarly communications. By 
adopting predatory pricing tactics, commercial publishers changed 
the environment of scholarly communications, so that fewer and 
fewer publishers consumed larger and larger shares of the 
resources, meaning that less and less funds (proportionally) were 
available for smaller publishers or new ventures.  By looking 
ahead, some bright eyed scholars realized that eventually these 
publishers would bring the whole system down, since it was 
clearly unsustainable.  Scholarly submissions would continue 
growing (and the pace has been increasing), but journal 
publications would not keep pace.  If commercial publishers were 
responsible for adding titles to handle the extra need, the 
problem would grow worse more quickly, since those titles would 
also be priced (or back-loaded) unfairly.

Here comes OA to save the day:  How do we provide an alternative, 
or at least a yardstick* by which to judge these predatory 
publishers and slowly replace them as they grow less and less 
cost-effective**?  How do we provide support systems for society 
and small publisher titles as they are forced under by commercial 
predators?  How do we add titles to handle the extra demand? 
You guessed it -- and OA has been doing it.

OA publishers have been delivering the same peer reviewed product 
as the established brands.  In some cases, such as those society 
publishers who move to University or Library OA publishers for 
shelter, the product is almost the same (though underlying 
systems will be more efficient).  OA journals do not suffer any 
disadvantage in quality of product or impact. They simply cost 
much less and provide new opportunities to both students and 
faculty, as well as create new collaboration and innovation 
opportunities for universities and libraries, the benefits of 
which we keep seeing and talking about.  The literature is 
literally littered with evidence, so this deny, deny, deny bit is 
just too tobacco industry for me.

Let's get this part of the silliness over.  Was the OA movement 
created on a lark or out of some malevolent plot to "disrupt 
traditional publishing"? Seriously, that's what you think?

... although, come to think of it, it's true that since OA 
operates on a different model than probably all commercial 
publishers and since it is more efficient (revolutionarily 
innovative?), it will eventually force commercial publishers to 
reform (if they have a culture that allows them to adapt -- I'm 
pessimistic), so in that sense, yes, OA is disruptive ... and 
thank goodness.


*... and so the two intertwined threads, where we look at the 
evidence of OA cost-effectiveness, while wondering how commercial 
publishers can make the same processes so much more expensive.

**...since price continues to go up, but value offered remains 
largely steady or even erodes year by year.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Joseph Esposito
Sent: Monday, March 01, 2010 6:25 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Open Access to Research Is Inevitable, Libraries Are Told

There are two separate themes running through this thread, and
it's useful to keep them separate. One is, How much does it cost
(or could it cost) to conduct peer review of scholarly material?
The other is, Can we replicate all the features of the
traditional publishing system in an open access environment, and
do so at lower cost?

There is no question that peer review can be conducted for
relatively low cost, whether in an OA or toll-access environment.
It can even be managed at costs far lower than even the
staunchest OA advocates maintain, once the analytic power of
industrial processes are brought to it.  That means things like
working in the Cloud, automating all the interfaces, etc.
Universities are poor places to keep costs down, as they are
typically high-cost (and high touch) environments, but there is
no inherent reason that peer review services for OA should be
managed by universities.  If Verizon can have a call center in
Bangalore, why not Duke?

The problem is that peer review has many varieties, and the work
of the established publications focuses mostly on one thing:
What do I have to do to make this a publication that people will
pay for, and once they are willing to pay for it, what value
proposition can I assert that will give me some elasticity as to
pricing?  The overall editorial program of a traditional
publication is at the service of these business objectives.

Thus traditional journals seek the most highly regarded academic
editors, who in turn seek the most highly regarded reviewers.
All this in turn leads to the development of the publication's
brand.  At some point the brand itself takes on its own
qualities.  When people say, I will pay more for an Apple
product, they are acknowledging the premium associated with the
Apple brand.  Think of such brands as Science and Lancet.  The
articles published there have a special status because of the
brand that supports them and which they in turn support.

Can OA be successful? Yep.  Is it successful today?  Somewhat.
Is it supplanting established publications?  For the most part,
no.  It's one thing to set up a competent system for publishing
something, another to create the aura of an established brand and
all that goes with it.

I think a legitimate question is, Are the established brands
continuing to produce the kind of work that made the brands
valuable in the first place?  If the answer is no, there is
trouble ahead (for them).  Another question to ask is, Are there
things in scholarly communications that the established brands
are not currently doing or may in fact have difficulty doing
because of the implications of their brands?  An example of
something that is not being done is real-time publication.  An
example of brand conflict might be (and this question can be
entertaining) having the Hopkins School of Medicine sponsor a
journal on "alternative" medicine (presumably the editor would be
based in my New Age hometown of Santa Cruz).

If the goal is to disrupt traditional publishing, the place to
look is not where the established publications are strong but
where they are absent or weak.  An open access NEJM will be hard
to pull off.

Joe Esposito

On Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 3:51 PM, Eric Hellman <eric@hellman.net> wrote:

> I think it would be interesting for all to see how publishers
> would itemize the expenses associated with review process.
> My guess is that many of the items would be unanticipated by
> non-publishers but still scaleable.
> On Feb 25, 2010, at 6:02 PM, Anthony Watkinson wrote:
>> Is Professor Guedon really suggesting that publishers who spend a
>> lot of money on online editorial systems, on editor honoraria, on
>> editorial back-up costs and on editorial board meetings are
>> really doing so because they want to increase their costs? The
>> software he mentions may well work for small journals in the
>> humanities but it is my understanding that it does not satisfy
>> editors of biomedical journals or their authors:.
>> Anthony