Free Academic Journals? Maybe

March 10, 2016

I read “This Renowned Mathematician Is Bent On Proving Academic Journals Can Cost Nothing.” If you are not an academic, you may not know that some folks pay the publisher to publish one’s research report, journal article, or wild and crazy summary of non reproducible results.

Good business?

You betcha. I remember a meeting a decade ago at the Cornell Theory Center. I asked if a faculty member who published in an online journal would be recognized for the work. The answer, not surprisingly, was, “No.” Flash forward to today. Many institutions like the estimable University of Louisville prefer their wizards’ write ups to be in prestigious paper journals. Sure, maybe a short item in the Harvard Business School blog will get some blue or green stars. The gold ones, from what I have heard, go to the expensive, paper journals like those from the ever savvy Elsevier outfit.

The write up states:

Despite a decades-old “open access” movement — which aims to put research findings in the public domain instead of languishing behind expensive pay walls — the traditional approach to publishing remains firmly entrenched.

The Cambridge math whiz is launch Discrete Analysis. Sorry, no snaps of the new Bugatti Chiron or Maserati SUV.

The write up points out some of the realities of academic publishing. The arguments are somewhat tired. I highlighted this passage:

So far, these alternative ventures have had little success dismantling the knowledge fiefdoms like Elsevier. The ArXiv (which launched in 1991) and open-access publishers like PLoS (established in 2000) still haven’t displaced traditional journals. But maybe, as more and more mini ventures chip away at the incumbent publishers, the revolution will take shape.

The fellow leading the charge for no cost or low cost academic publishing may find the task more difficult than tackling one of Hilbert’s unsolved problems.

Stephen E Arnold, March 10, 2016


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