The "Guild Publishing" model

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 13:02:43 -0500

On Mon, 25 Feb 2002, Peter Suber wrote [on the topic: Excerpts from the
Free Online Scholarship (FOS) Newsletter February 25, 2002]:

[ps]> * In a recent working paper posted to Indiana University's Center
[ps]> for Social Informatics, Rob Kling and two co-authors describe what
[ps]> they call "Guild Publishing" as a fifth model of free online
[ps]> scholarly publishing, after ejournals, hybrid paper-electronic
[ps]> journals, authors posting to their own web sites, and self-archiving
[ps]> to institutional or disciplinary archives. Guild Publishing is the
[ps]> free online dissemination of working papers or technical reports
[ps]> sponsored by academic departments of research institutes. For
[ps]> example, all major U.S. computer science departments, and 250 others
[ps]> around the world, sponsor research manuscript series, as do all
[ps]> major research institutes of high energy physics. Kling and his
[ps]> co-authors enumerate six advantages of Guild Publishing: local
[ps]> control, ease of innovation, quality control through "career review"
[ps]> (based on the reputation of the department or institute),
[ps]> accessibility, economy, and compatibility with other publishing
[ps]> models. They also list three disadvantages.

I agree that this "guild" model does merit some attention. The "business
model" that's described is based on "local sponsorship provided by
individual departments or institutes". Membership in the "guild" (e.g.
membership in the department or research institute, based on "career
review") provides one basis for quality control, prior to submission to a
journal for peer review. This could be supplemented by what the authors
call "light review" by the sponsoring organization, to "protect the
sponsoring organization against embarrassment".

How about a similar model, but one where the sponsoring organization is an
agency or foundation that provides peer reviewed grants-in-aid to
researchers? Researchers who currently are holders of a research grant
from the agency would be members of this particular "guild", and could
post (or, submit for posting) research manuscripts to a (preferably
OAI-compliant) eprint server.

In this version of the "guild" model, none of the advantages would be
lost. Indeed, an additional "filtering" system would have been added: the
research manuscripts would be reports about research projects sponsored by
the agency. And, the projects would be ones that had recently been
reviewed by a group of peers.

In addition, some of the stated limitations of the "guild" model could be
viewed in a different way. The first of these, the "reputation
reinforcing" limitation (concern about the enhancement of existing status
distinctions among departments or research institutes) could be regarded,
instead, as an advantage (from the perspective of individual researchers),
provided that the agency's peer-review process places a major emphasis on
the merits of each individual project, rather than a major emphasis on the
previous track record of the researcher.

The second stated limitation of the "guild" model, the "access" limitation
(small academic departments or research institutes with limited funding or
computing resources may not be able to implement the model) could also be
viewed in a different way. Small granting agencies or foundations might
not be able to implement the model, but members of small academic
departments or research agencies wouldn't be denied access to a "guild"
sponsored by those granting agencies or foundation that do decide to give
a high priority to this kind of model.

The third stated limitation of the "guild" model, the "prior publications
limitation" (strict prohibitions by journals against any form of prior
publishing) would continue to be a limitation for the "granting agency"
form of the "guild" model. As the authors of the "guild" model point out,
posting of research manuscripts to the "guild" site should be voluntary,
not mandatory. And, of course, as discussed many times previously in
messages posted to this forum, the "prior publications limitation" is one
that, increasingly, is disappearing (or, at least, becoming less strict,
and thus, a less serious limitation on the implementation of preprint

However, recipients of research grants from an agency or foundation would
probably feel some obligation to post research reports at the agency's
"guild" site, if only to provide (in the shorter term) tangible evidence
that their research has been productive, and (in the loger term) an
opportunity to trace links between the posted research reports and their
subsequent impact (e.g. as assessed on the basis of citations of these
research reports, or of any peer-reviewed journal publications based on
these research reports).

Is anyone aware of a granting agency or foundation that has implemented
(or plans to implement) this kind of "guild" model for a preprint server?

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Tue Feb 26 2002 - 18:22:54 GMT

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