Reclaiming Academic Publishing
October 21, 2015
Researchers and writers are at the mercy of academic publishers who control the venues to print their work, select the content of their work, and often control the funds behind their research. Even worse is that academic research is locked behind database walls that require a subscription well beyond the price range of a researcher not associated with a university or research institute. One researcher was fed up enough with academic publishers that he decided to return publishing and distributing work back to the common people, says Nature in “Leading Mathematician Launches arXiv ‘Overlay’ Journal.”
The new mathematics journal Discrete Analysis peer reviews and publishes papers free of charge on the preprint server arXiv. Timothy Gowers started the journal to avoid the commercial pressures that often distort scientific literature.
“ ‘Part of the motivation for starting the journal is, of course, to challenge existing models of academic publishing and to contribute in a small way to creating an alternative and much cheaper system,’ he explained in a 10 September blog post announcing the journal. ‘If you trust authors to do their own typesetting and copy-editing to a satisfactory standard, with the help of suggestions from referees, then the cost of running a mathematics journal can be at least two orders of magnitude lower than the cost incurred by traditional publishers.’ ”
Some funds are required to keep Discrete Analysis running, costs are ten dollars per submitted papers to pay for software that manages peer review and journal Web site and arXiv requires an additional ten dollars a month to keep running.
Gowers hopes to extend the journal model to other scientific fields and he believes it will work, especially for fields that only require text. The biggest problem is persuading other academics to adopt the model, but things move slowly in academia so it will probably be years before it becomes widespread.