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[28 Jun 2016 | No Comment | ]

The Honourable Ben Howlett MP
Member for Bath
House of Commons, United Kingdom
Dear Ben,
I need to come clean at the beginning of this letter. I did not vote for you in the general election. I am unlikely to vote for you or any member of your party in the future. We come from different political, and I would imagine cultural backgrounds. Nonetheless we were on the same side of the debate for the referendum. This as I will return to, offers me some hope for repairing the damage that has been done.
I write without …

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[22 Jun 2016 | 3 Comments | ]

I’ve been conflicted about posting this. I had planned to write something along these lines for several weeks but the murder of Jo Cox threw that sideways. The way I write tends to involve pushing words around in my head for a week or so, and then writing it all out. Thus most of this existed in some form prior to her murder but it was not written down. I don’t want to claim any prescience but those events, and the subsequent debate over their meaning, so reinforced the fears …

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[7 Jun 2016 | 2 Comments | ]
Canaries in the Elsevier Mine: What to watch for at SSRN

Just to declare various conflicts of interest: I regard Gregg Gordon, CEO of SSRN as a friend and have always been impressed at what he has achieved at SSRN. From the perspective of what is best for the services SSRN can offer to researchers, selling to Elsevier was a smart opportunity and probably the best of the options available given the need for investment. My concerns are at the ecosystem level. What does this mean for the system as a whole? 
 
 
The first two paragraphs of this post have been edited following …

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[18 May 2016 | 6 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 …

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[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 …

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[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 …

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[10 May 2016 | Comments Off on PolEcon of OA Publishing VI: Economies of Scale | ]
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 …

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[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 …

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[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 …

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[15 Apr 2016 | Comments Off on Taking a principled approach to envy | ]
Taking a principled approach to envy

When I saw the anonymous piece “Openness is Inclusivity” it both struck a chord and made me uncomfortable. Striking a chord because I’m increasingly concerned about the institutionalization and centralization of Open Science activities. Uncomfortable because it comes across as an attack, and an anonymous one at that, on one organization.
The Centre for Open Science has done a lot of good work, had a lot of success and brought in a lot of money to run a large operation. I think I have generally argued in favour of smaller groups over …