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Businesses The Almighty Buck Science

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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:42PM (#46934135)

    They need to learn math first. There is no way their web server will only cost $15 year. There are a ton of costs that MIT pays for that the Journal isn't accounting for.

  • Re:Next (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:01PM (#46934305)

    Academics aren't paid for writing those papers by the journals, the reviewers are also unpaid, the members of the editorial board, the academic editors aren't paid either (the technical editor is paid but he's an employee of the journal and not a member of the editorial board anyway). The journals no longer employ professional typesetters and proofreaders. They outsourced it all to the lowest bidder in India or China, and the typesetting and proofreading is abysmal, the published papers have more typos than the preprints.

  • Re:Explotative? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gwolf (26339) <gwolf@gwELIOTolf.org minus poet> on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:08PM (#46934369) Homepage

    Not precisely.

    Yes, they are free. But the scientific world revolves around the notion of the different metrics to your work. And it's not only prestige: Often, your income level will be determined mainly by the impact factor of the magazines you publish in.

    But... Guess who dictates the values for said impact factors in the international indexes?

    Of course! The publishers of closed sciencie magazines.

  • I call bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:52PM (#46934759) Homepage Journal

    $15 a year is barely enough to pay to register a domain. Any decent ISP is going to charge more like $20/month, not $15/year.

    Just because MIT can do it for $15/year does not mean that is a reasonable cost for anyone else to expect to get away with.

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