Follow the Money
Are academic journal publishers making a profit?
Reed Elsevier announced "Robust financial performance in unprecedented global recession" in its 2009 Report -- including a 14% increase.
Wiley's press release is no longer on their website, but according to Digital Koans in 2009 it reported a full year contribution to profit +14% and fourth quarter contribution to profit +22% on a currency neutral basis.
June 9, 2010: The Nature Publishing Group (NPG) proposes to quadruple the price of a UC license for Nature and its 67 affiliated journals. The CDL's letter to UC faculty stated that:
- In the past six years, UC authors have contributed some 5,300 articles to NPG journals, 638 in the flagship journal Nature.
- UC author contributions have helped shape the prestige of NPG journals.
- UC faculty also contribute a significant amount of time serving as reviewers, editors and advisory board members.
Short definition: Free availability and unrestricted use
More complete definition from the Budapest Open Access Intiative: By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.
"Open access holds the promise of moving knowledge from the closed cloisters of privileged, well-endowed university campuses to ... dedicated professionals and interested amateurs, to concerned journalists and policymakers."¹
Berkeley scholars want their publications to be read -- by other researchers in their field, by academics, independent scholars, and policy makers. They freely contribute their time as authors, editors and peer reviewers; the university in turn buys back the content that they have given away.
There is a growing gap between what scholarly journals cost, and what libraries (including major research universities) can pay. As libraries are forced to cancel journals, researchers worldwide lose access to the articles that authors provided for free.
Open Access is a much needed alternative to the for-profit publishing model.
Good for you:
¹Willinsky, J. (2006). The access principle : The case for open access to research and scholarship. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
OA and Social Justice
In a very interesting article¹ from 2008, Allan Scherlen and Matthew Robinson analyze open access through the theoretical lens of Rawls and Miller, and find that:
"The open access movement—online open access journals and author self-archiving—is more consistent with the conceptions of social justice by Rawls and Miller. Because open access does not interfere with any person's indefensible claims to equal basic liberties (the “equal liberties principle”), it is consistent with social justice. Further, open access does not violate the “equal opportunity principle” and in fact assures for greater equality of access to information. We also believe that open access is to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged and thus is consistent with the “difference principle.” That is, open access publishing aims to benefit all equally, which over time, will assist the least advantaged in catching up to the most well-off in society (who have long benefitted from greater access to knowledge in all areas of life)."
¹ Scherlen, Allan and Robinson, Matthew (2008) 'Open Access to Criminal Justice Scholarship: A Matter of Social Justice', Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 19:1, 54 - 74