(wrong string) édon's conscious Mix-up

From: (wrong string) édon Jean-Claude <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMONTREAL.CA>
Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2007 08:55:05 -0500

Jan's argument rests on dissociating building a journal from its branding capacity. It is true that a group of people can get together and create a journal, but creating a credible journal is a different matter. The efforts of PLoS are good example of the need to do both simultaneously. I am indeed mixing up barrier to entry and branding construction because a journal is, first and foremost, a brand.

And the problem with a brand is that it is built thanks to a whole array of means, some of which related to quality or excellence, others not. As a result, brand measures quality poorly; furthermore, it allows commercial meddling with the very heart of the scholarly dialogue.

It is true that scientists and scholars are very eager for branding. However, this is due to the ways in which reputation and visibility are constructed in scientific institutions; it is also due to the techniques used to evaluate researchers for employment, promotion and tenure. In other words, scientists learn to survive in a system of evaluation which ostensibly seeks to select for excellence, but in reality does it quite poorly.

So thank you, Jan, for pointing out that Iwas mixing journal construction and brand buildup: that was exactly my point.


-------- Message d'origine--------
De: American Scientist Open Access Forum de la part de Jan Velterop
Date: sam. 03/03/2007 16:58
Objet : Re: Jean-Claude Guédon's Mix-up
I think you are mistaken, Jean-Claude. There are virtually no
barriers to entry and the availability of open source journal
management software has lowered any residual barriers even further.
Nothing "disingenuous" there. You are mixing up the barriers to entry
and those to successful brand image building. The latter do exist, as
it takes a lot of effort and money to build good brand images. It can
be done, and in a very short period of time, too, if PLoS serves as
an example, but it does cost.

Apparently, such brand identity is highly valued by researchers. Even
more so if after a number of years, ISI volente, newly branded
journals are endowed with an impact factor, which usually accelerates
the development of their brand identity.

One of the difficulties with self-archiving is not so much that the
content of published articles is available in repositories, but that
these articles carry with them the precious brand identity of the
journal, in which is invested considerably. And again, from author
behaviour one can conclude that, on the whole, such brand identities
are highly valued and researchers are very sensitized to the relative
place of the brands in the research journal pyramid, since if they
can publish in those journals, that places themselves in the pyramid.
Should self-archiving succeed on a large scale, for instance helped
by mandates, what is sure to happen is that investment in brand image
will tail off. Cancellations will occur from the bottom up.
(Subscriptions to physics journals hold up, so far, because what
we're talking about is top journals, with a high brand value). The
research journal pyramid will flatten considerably. Or worse, a chasm
may open up between a (flattened) pyramid of journals that are taken
seriously, and a growing echelon of journals that are not. And with
the journals, researchers will face such a class chasm. This may be
the intended consequence but I doubt that that is good for science,
with its finely tuned stratification, which presumably evolved for a

Jan Velterop

On 3 Mar 2007, at 14:47, Guédon Jean-Claude wrote:

> -------- Message d'origine--------
> De: American Scientist Open Access Forum de la part de Velterop,
> Jan, Springer UK
> Date: jeu. 01/03/2007 06:47
> Objet : Re: Jan Velterop's Misconception
> [snip]
> There are virtually no barriers to entry for would-be publishers. Even
> less so for the minimalist 'administrators' of the publishing process
> that you suggest. Why is it then that such an approach hasn't taken
> over
> the position of the existing publishers like a storm?
> The prevailing scientific culture, world-wide, is extremely conscious
> of, and sensitive to, 'brand identities' of journals. Isn't that at
> the
> heart of the matter?
> Jan Velterop
> Allow me to take issue with Jan's statement above.
> Thre are barriers to entry for would-be publishers and these
> barriers relate to "brand construction". Being able to enter the
> Science Citation Index is part of brend building and a large
> company like Springer will be heard a lot more easily than a would-
> be publisher, especially if that publisher comes from some some
> "exotic" country (define "exotic" as you wqant, from Serbia to
> Brazil). Placing a new journal in a big-deal bundle is an advantage
> that is not open to a would-be publisher. Maxwell built hundreds of
> titles, redefined the terms of peer review to promote his new
> titles and obsessively tried to buy the Science Citation Index. Hwe
> knew how to build branding and he also knew that this process bore
> a relationship to scholarship that was tenuous at best. So, saying
> that there are "virtually no barriers" to entry is a bit
> disingenuous and wondering why the position has not been taken
> "like a storm" is rhetoric. We all know why this is the case.
> Jean-Claude Guédon
Received on Sun Mar 04 2007 - 15:24:30 GMT

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