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The Exploitative Economics of Academic Publishing 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
v3rgEz sends this piece from the Boston Globe: "Taxpayers in the United States spend $139 billion a year on scientific research, yet much of this research is inaccessible not only to the public, but also to other scientists. This is the consequence of an exploitative scientific journal system that rewards academic publishers while punishing taxpayers, scientists, and universities. Fortunately, cheap open-access alternatives are not only possible, but already beginning to take root, as this article explores in-depth: 'Why is it so expensive to publish in these open-access journals? According to the journals, these fees defray their publication and operating costs. However, this argument is undermined by the existence of open-access journals that charge authors nothing and have negligible operating costs. One prominent example is the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR), one of the top publications in the field of machine learning. JMLR has a similar editorial process to many other journals, with a volunteer editorial board and an automated system for managing the peer-review process. Unlike many closed-access publishers, it does not take any advertising. MIT provides the web server for hosting JMLR, which would otherwise cost around $15 per year. The biggest expense is paying for a tax accountant to deal with paperwork so JMLR can maintain its tax-exempt status. Altogether, the total cost of running JMLR since it was founded in 2000 is estimated to be less than $7,000, or $6.50 per article published. This proves that cheap open-access publishing is possible.'"
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The Exploitative Economics of Academic Publishing

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  • by docmordin (2654319) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:55PM (#46934249)

    As an academic, part of the problem with starting wonderful open journals and conferences is the fact that there are very few incentives for us to spend our time to build up the reputation of the publication. Although being editor-in-chief or associate editor of a journal is nice to have for a tenure review, some universities weight it less than the number of publications produced, the prestige of the publication venue, how many students you have advised, how much grant money has been brought to the university, and how much publicity your work has received. Since so many of my colleagues are focused on maximizing these metrics, they have very little time for much else when starting their careers. Moreover, even when they have tenure, they still have to chase grant money to sponsor all of the students in their labs; when I was in graduate school, my adviser seemed to be flying around every two or three weeks to meet with program managers to get even more money.

    Another item of note is that it is much easier to get support to start a conference if you align yourself with one of the major academic publishers, e.g., IEEE or Springer. Provided you can meet your attendance quota, these publishers provide much of the infrastructure and initial funding to host such events.

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