Learned societies turn against scholarship | Medium

Researchers today are caught like fish in a net of slow, overpriced, unethical and dysfunctional publishing practices. Trapped by academic employment rules, funding arrangements and copyright laws, we have long tried unsuccessfully to wrest control of scholarship from corporate publishers. The fight dates back to at least the 1980s, when physicists started circulating their findings via email to increase the speed of scholarly communication. It took on an ethical dimension when researchers began to demand that their publicly-funded research be made accessible to the public at no cost. This came to be called the “open access” movement. Because each new scholarly discovery is only published once and cannot be legally obtained elsewhere, the publisher holds a monopoly on it, allowing publishers to overcharge consumers (mainly academic libraries) by at least US$9 billion annually. As in other monopoly markets, there is little incentive for innovation or high-quality service in scholarly publishing. For instance, to fit the paper-derived format that publishers continue to insist on, we researchers must reduce our data visualizations to flat static pictures, sometimes even in black and white. What publishers provide today is not much more functional than paper, but it is much more expensive. They might as well be etching our research onto sheets of gold. The public suffers twice: First they are overcharged to read the results of science they themselves funded. Second, the system designed to protect publishers’ profits ends up slowing down scientific progress and lowering the quality of published research in myriad ways. For example, new chemical compounds could be identified much faster and more easily if the scientific literature was not balkanized and protected by publisher embargoes, preventing the information in the articles from being automatically aggregated. Such inefficiencies are bad for science and bad for the public. They benefit only the publishers, and yet they remain in place.

Source: Learned societies turn against scholarship | Medium