[27 Sep 2015 | 6 Comments | ]
The Political Economics of Open Access Publishing – A series

One of the odd things about scholarly publishing is how little any particular group of stakeholders seems to understand the perspective of others. It is easy to start with researchers ourselves, who are for the most part embarrassingly ignorant of what publishing actually involves. But those who have spent a career in publishing are equally ignorant (and usually dismissive to boot) of researchers’ perspectives. Each in turn fail to understand what libraries are or how librarians think. Indeed the naive view that libraries and librarians are homogenous is a big …

Read the full story »

Blog, Featured »

[18 May 2016 | 5 Comments | ]
Scholarly Communications: Less of a market, more like general taxation?

This is necessarily speculative and I can’t claim to have bottomed out all the potential issues with this framing. It therefore stands as one of the “thinking in progress” posts I promised earlier in the year. Nonetheless it does seem like an interesting framing to pursue an understanding of scholarly communications through.
The idea of “the market” in scholarly communications has rubbed me up the wrong way for a long time. Both the moral and political superiority claimed by private and commercial players for the presumption that markets should be unregulated and …

Blog, Featured »

[16 May 2016 | 2 Comments | ]
Open Access Progress: Anecdotes from close to home

It has become rather fashionable in some circles to decry the complain about the lack of progress on Open Access. Particularly to decry the apparent failure of UK policies to move things forward. I’ve been guilty of frustration at various stages in the past and one thing I’ve always found useful is thinking back to where things were. So with that in mind here’s an anecdote or two that suggests not just progress but a substantial shift in the underlying practice.
I live with a chemist, a group not known for their engagement …

Blog »

[13 May 2016 | 2 Comments | ]
What is it publishers DO? (Reprise)

This is more a note to write something on this up in some more detail. In the original post What is it publishers do anyway? I gestured towards the idea that one of the main value-adds for the artist formerly known as the publisher is in managing a long tail of challenging, and in some cases quite dangerous issues. What I didn’t quite say, but was implicit, is that a big role for publishers in preventing the researcher-author from getting egg on their face.
Enter this weeks entry into the pantheon of …

Blog, Featured »

[10 May 2016 | No Comment | ]
PolEcon of OA Publishing VI: Economies of Scale

I think I committed to one of these every two weeks didn’t I? So already behind? Some of what I intended in this section already got covered in What are the assets of a journal? and the other piece Critiquing the Standard Analytics Paper so this is headed in a slightly different direction from originally planned.
There are two things you frequently hear in criticism of scholarly publishers. One is “why can’t they do X? It’s trivial. Service Y does this for free and much better!”. I covered some of the reasons that this is …

Blog »

[5 May 2016 | One Comment | ]

This morning I received an email from a senior policy person. They’d read my blog post on Marginal Costs of Article Publishing but they couldn’t seem to get to the original article from Standard Analytics that I was commenting on. I took a look myself and found the following.

If you remember the claim of the original article was that platform and cloud provision costs meant that really the marginal cost of publishing was below $1. My comment was that there were lots of costs that were missing, and that marginal …

Blog, Featured »

[28 Apr 2016 | 3 Comments | ]
A Journal is a Club (New Working Paper)

This is a short reflection on a new Working Paper I’m an author on. The paper is largely the work of Jason Potts with contributions from myself, Lucy Montgomery, Ellie Rennie, and John Hartley. 
The moment that I decided it was time to move on from PLOS is crystal clear in my mind. I was standing in a room at the South of Perth Yacht Club, giving a short talk on my view of the political economics of journals and scholarly publishing. I’d been puzzling for a while about a series …