Re: Author Publication Charge Debate

From: Hamaker, Chuck <cahamake_at_EMAIL.UNCC.EDU>
Date: Sat, 7 Feb 2004 15:04:43 -0500

An article submitted to an OA journal would be "blind" to the reviewers in
terms of whether it is "paid" or not.

The decision to publish or not couldn't be based on the financial situation
of the researcher submitting the article. To do otherwise would be
self-defeating for any peer reviewed journal.

We've been told repeatedly by publishers that the "real" competition isn't
for subscriptions, but for quality papers. i.e. they believe subscriptions
follow quality. I tend to think subscriptions just follow authors (who
submit papers). (I publish there, how dare you not subscribe!)

Publishers assume profitability from quality but in the end probably get
subscriptions just from the bulk of submitters pressuring local
institutions. Quality is something late to the game, I think, as libraries
are forced to divest lower quality titles because of financial difficulties
--even traditional publishers will be forced to move from bulk to selection
in ways they have not been previously. Otherwise why would anyone pay?

Some publishers have blamed libraries for buying too many low quality
journals (invariably its the other publishers' stock they mean) and think
librarians have to be gate keepers-a role libraries have never tried to fill
in STM journals.

But getting good papers submitted is where many costs to the present system
are located, and probably hidden.

If OA journals publish the best, then the best articles will be submitted to
them. They actually have more incentive, as the new kids on the block, to
make sure the best articles are published, as they have something to prove
in order to survive.

And their "market" is twofold. Researchers deciding where the most prestige
and attention will be accorded their articles will submit their best. There
shouldn't be many OA journals that are second or third tier, as there are in
print systems-in fact the "profitable" journals in a publishers stable
subsidize many failures.

And we may need to create a "second or third tier" system just to accomodate
material that will no longer meet higher review standards that will be
necessary as authors select venues and pay charges for OA.

Some traditional journals oten just coast on the basis of raising prices. If
you can't raise subscription prices because there aren't any, and if you
depend on authors not only for submission but for payment , you have to be
sure what you are publishing really is worth publishing. That's the only
reason authors would decided to participate.

OA journals could become the highest of the high quality sources--or fail
completely. The verdict is still out.

If you want your research seen, reacted to, evaluated beyond prepublication
peer review, i.e. actually used and cited by others, the OA journals should
over time win the race because of more potential for readers. Pay journals
only have a potential for more (or fewer)

If an author is convinced they are doing the best work they will want to
participate fully in the free market of ideas. International researchers
should be as interested, if not more than other authors, in the success of
OA journals. It takes their work to a world view more than any print system.

Chuck Hamaker
Received on Sat Feb 07 2004 - 20:04:43 GMT

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