Scholarly Publishing: Where is Plan B?
Mar 01, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Summary of Elsevier's recent support for the controversial US Research Works Act (RWA), the fallout (including a substantial Elsevier boycott) and speculations about where the publisher will turn next. All this animosity, writes the author, obscures the underlying problem: "What is the underlying problem? Simply that the research community can no longer afford to pay the costs of publishing its research in the traditional manner." So what will keep the publishers relevant? In a word: peer review. So says Claudio Aspesi, a senior research analyst at the sell-side research firm Sanford Bernstein. Aspesi tracks Elsevier for investors. "I doubt the academic community is — by and large — ready to abandon peer review. If this happened, of course, then the role of journals would be further diminished, but I would not expect that to happen any time soon." Total: 201
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Given recent advances in technology relating to the creation and dissemination of ePub and other kinds of electronic documents, there is little justification for the expensive overhead of scholarly journals and the cost of subscriptions to those journals by libraries. The last step in dis-intermediating this industry will be the development of independant ways and means to evaluate and select research for digital publication. Researchers and scholars everywhere need to stop outsourcing the evaluation of their work to commercial entities. They too often use the wrong criteria. [Comment] [Permalink]

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