The Exploitative Economics Of Academic Publishing

Samuel Gershman has gathered some interesting statistics that remind us of the cost benefits of Open Access in higher education. At a recent presentation at a University here in Quito, Michel talked about the cost savings of using open scientific instruments, if a University was also to move their digital infrastructure over to linux and free software that would also represent a considerable saving on licensing fees. It is widely known that open approaches bring considerable cost reduction, the Rep Rap for example reduced costs by a factor of 10. Imagine if such a cost reduction could be applied to higher education. Does that means higher education could be available to 10 times the number of students?

“Taxpayers in the United States spend $139 billion a year on scientific research, yet much of this research is inaccessible not only to the public, but also to other scientists.(a) This is the consequence of an exploitative scientific journal system that rewards academic publishers while punishing taxpayers, scientists, and universities. Fortunately, cheap open-access alternatives are not only possible, but already beginning to take root, suggesting a way forward to a more open and equitable system for sharing research.”

“American academic libraries spend $1.7 billion annually on serial subscriptions (i.e. academic journals and other periodicals), and these costs continue to grow. In 2010, the University of California system threatened to boycott Nature Publishing Group after the publisher raised the average price of its journal subscriptions 400%, from $4,465 to more than $17,000 per journal. In 2012, Harvard University Library, the largest private library system in the world, sent a memo to faculty stating that it could no longer afford the $3.75 million it pays annually to journal providers. The library suggested a range of possible solutions, including renegotiating subscription contracts and encouraging faculty and students to submit papers to open-access journals.”

“In response to the problems with the existing journal publication system, an open-access movement has arisen in recent years, promoting free access to academic knowledge. Open-access publishers like the Public Library of Science (PLOS) and the Frontiers journals do not have paywalls preventing the public from accessing articles, and they allow authors to retain the copyrights to their work. The movement has gained enough momentum that 17% of academic journal articles published in 2011 were accessible in open-access form within a year of publication.”

Continue Reading – Source: by Samuel Gershman a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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