Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The answer to this question obviously should be "yes". "A 2005 Deutsche Bank report referred to it as a "bizarre" "triple-pay" system, in which "the state funds most research, pays the salaries of most of those checking the quality of research, and then buys most of the published product". I think this article reaches the same conclusion, but in a long roundabout way describing the history of the post-war academic publishing industry that made publishing in the 'right' paper key to recognition. As one researcher says, "Young people tell me all the time, 'If I don't publish in CNS [a common acronym for Cell/Nature/Science, the most prestigious journals in biology], I won't get a job," Once this happened, journals started making a lot of money, and the inevitable market consolidation happened. "Elsevier created a switch that fused Maxwell's thousands of tiny monopolies into one so large that, like a basic resource – say water, or power – it was impossible for universities to do without." Today journal publioshers operate in a world of almost "pure profit", subsidized mostly by taxpayers. 

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
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Last Updated: Jul 24, 2024 2:19 p.m.

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