The DIGITAL technology and economics of scholarly communication and scientific publishing - Re: costs of publishing

From: Armbruster, Chris <Chris.Armbruster_at_EUI.EU>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2006 17:38:39 +0100

The DIGITAL technology and economics of scholarly communication and scientific publishing - Re: costs of publishing

The WWW Galaxy heavily favours the severance of the certification of knowledge claims from the dissemination of research papers. Underlying this shift is the emergence of an academic cyberinfrastructure based on open transmission protocols and open-source software that, in turn, favours open content and open access. ^—Openness^“ is fundamentally compatible with the knowledge-based economy if market profits are made from nonexclusive rights. The present conflict between scholars and commercial publishers around ^—open access^“ is based on a misunderstanding, for business models in scientific publishing that are based on the pursuit and enforcement of exclusive intellectual property rights will not persist because technological and economic conditions disfavour them strongly.

The compatibility of open science and the knowledge-based economy may be enhanced if the dissemination of research articles is severed from their certification. As the marginal cost of digital dissemination plummets, there is a case for the public funding of the electronic dissemination of research articles. Public funding could ensure effectively that dissemination is free to authors and readers - while reaping savings of several orders of magnitude as first copy costs in the WWW Galaxy fall to 1/10th or less of the cost in the Gutenberg Galaxy. This is, however, not true for the certification of knowledge, especially by peer review, which is likely to become more costly if it is to be of any service to readers and authors.

On the assumption that the decoupling of certification and dissemination is desirable and likely, research articles should be disseminated with a nonexclusive copyright license. This does not require any changes in law, but merely a different contractual arrangement whereby certifiers (e.g. publishers, learned societies, institutional repositories and whatever new organisations might emerge) will not be able to claim an exclusive copyright. Presently publishers collect monopoly rents because authors transfer the copyright of their papers to the publisher. If copyright for the article is no longer transferred exclusively, but licensed nonexclusively, then a competitive and efficient market for knowledge services will emerge.

Economic modelling of the potential impact of the open access dissemination of research results is under way. In a first estimate it is valued at roughly $2bn for the UK, $3bn for Germany, $6bn for Japan and $16bn for the USA ^÷ assuming a social return to R&D at 50% and a 5% increase in access and efficiency (Houghton and Sheehan 2006). This lends salience to the anticipation of the emergence and growth of a new knowledge industry around the certification of knowledge and the provision of services to readers and authors. This new industry will sit atop the open access dissemination of research articles and further contribute to growth and innovation.

Armbruster, Chris,

"Cyberscience and the Knowledge-based Economy, Open Access and Trade Publishing: From Contradiction to Compatibility with Nonexclusive Copyright Licensing" (October 2006). Available at SSRN:

"Five Reasons to Promote Open Access and Five Roads to Accomplish it in Social and Cultural Science" (November 12, 2005). Available at SSRN:

"Open Access in Social and Cultural Science: Innovative Moves to Enhance Access, Inclusion and Impact in Scholarly Communication" (November 15, 2005). Available at SSRN:
Received on Tue Oct 31 2006 - 17:33:56 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:34 GMT