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Academic Publishing Is All About Status

As a young professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1940s and 1950s, Paul Samuelson made a habit of visiting the offices of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, then based at MIT, to look through the other economics journals that arrived in the mail. “I’d read every journal, every article,” he told me a decade ago. Nowadays, no economist would do this. For one thing, there are too…

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In Australia, publications to become less important when funding research

The Turnbull government is set to overhaul the way university research is funded by dramatically downgrading the importance of publishing articles in little-read academic journals. Prime Minister Turnbull wants to end the “publish or perish” culture in which academics are pressured to focus on constant publishing rather than producing work with commercial and community benefit. In 2013, Australia ranked last in the developed world on the proportion of businesses which…

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Deceptive Publishing: Why We Need a Blacklist, and How to Do It Right

In an earlier posting, I suggested that the term “predatory publishing” has perhaps become too vague and subjective to be useful, and I suggested “bad faith” as a possible replacement term. But in light of the subsequent discussion in the comments section of that posting and after continuing to think about the issue, I’d like to suggest another alternative to “predatory,” one that offers more precision and usefulness: “deceptive.” Deception,…

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The Changing Nature of Scale in STM and Scholarly Publishing

Image by Clarke & Company, all rights reserved. The American College of Chest Physicians recently announced it would be ending decades of self-publishing: its well-known journal CHEST will soon be published by Elsevier. A society with a single journal deciding to throw in its lot with a large commercial publisher is not atypical, and for many such societies this is a sound decision. A small society publishing program cannot muster…

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Can (should) academia take back scholarly publishing?

A couple of years ago, my fellow Chef Kent Anderson responded (quite strongly) in this forum to an opinion piece by George Monbiot in which Monbiot characterized academic publishers as “the most ruthless capitalists in the western world” and as “parasitic overlords” and called for scholars to “liberate the research that belongs to us.” Kent’s response, for its part, characterized Monbiot’s piece as a “rant” and as “uninformed, unhinged, and…

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Open Science Initiative issues new paper, recommendations

In early September of 2014, nSCI recruited and organized over 100 thought-leaders from around the world into a three month long online conversation—named the Open Science Initiative (OSI) working group—to begin looking into viable ways to reform the scholarly publishing system. The outcome of this conversation will be a working paper (the most recent version is linked here) which summarizes the many important facts and perspectives that were discussed on…

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The 1% of scientific publishing

Our evaluation of the entire Scopus database for the period 1996–2011 shows that, overall, only a very small fraction of researchers (<1% of the over 15 million publishing scientists) have an uninterrupted, continuous presence in the scientific literature and these investigators account for the lion’s share of authors who eventually have high citation impact. There is some variability on the relative prevalence of these investigators across different scientific disciplines, geographical…

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Implementing CHORUS: Big Decisions Loom for Publishers

Shortly after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released its memo regarding public access to federally funded research in February 2013, The Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States (CHORUS) was born. This publisher-driven initiative was one of a few that took on the charge of responding to the requirements detailed in the OSTP memo. The development of CHORUS has moved very swiftly, in…

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