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posted by Fnord666 on Saturday February 15 2020, @05:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-the-market-will-bear dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

A quiet revolution is sweeping the $20 billion academic publishing market and its main operator Elsevier, partly driven by an unlikely group of rebels: cash-strapped librarians.

When Florida State University cancelled its “big deal” contract for all Elsevier’s 2,500 journals last March to save money, the publisher warned it would backfire and cost the library $1 million extra in pay-per-view fees.

But even to the surprise of Gale Etschmaier, dean of FSU’s library, the charges after eight months were actually less than $20,000. “Elsevier has not come back to us about ‘the big deal’,” she said, noting it had made up a quarter of her content budget before the terms were changed.

Mutinous librarians such as Ms. Etschmaier remain in a minority but are one of a host of pressures bearing down on the subscription business of Elsevier, the 140-year-old publisher that produces titles including the world’s oldest medical journal, The Lancet.

The company is facing a profound shift in the way it does business, as customers reject traditional charging structures.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by fyngyrz on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:02PM (4 children)

    by fyngyrz (6567) on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:02PM (#958577) Journal

    Expensive journals seem like they were a legitimate thing when the only way to share scientific info (study details, etc.) was via print. The circulation would have been relatively low for most journals, and so actual printing expenses would be correspondingly high.

    Today, however, with the web, the potential expense of sharing scientific data can be far less. The benefits of sharing this information widely are immense; anything at all that restricts sharing unnecessarily seems like a very bad thing... and that's what expensive journals do at this point in time, because the web is faster, easier, less expensive.

    One problem researchers face is the perceived prestige of publishing in a famous or simply respected journal; their funding and lab resources can often depend upon the perception of their publishing methods and amounts. That, I think, is contributing to the problem, and anyone who has influence in academics should be working hard to break that support relationship.

    Editors, qualified to judge the worthiness (or lack thereof) of submitted papers still need to be funded, so it's not reasonable to expect publishing papers though such a filter to become zero-cost; but certainly it can and should be less expensive.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:12PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:12PM (#958583) Homepage Journal

    Expensive journals seem like they were a legitimate thing when the only way to share scientific info (study details, etc.) was via print.

    I would question that. I've mentioned a time or two, that I attended school in a pretty wealthy school system. An olympic sized swimming pool in the basement of the high school, for starter. An auditorium that rivaled any movie theater I've ever been in, with a capacity about double the school population. The latest in textbooks. The latest in business machines. Athletics went far beyond baseball-basketball-football.

    With all that wealth, the school system couldn't access science journals. A student had to go out of town, usually Slippery Rock, and use the library at Penn State. Forget Ohio State, which was actually closer - if not a resident, you couldn't use their stuff.

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by barbara hudson on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:48PM

    by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:48PM (#958588) Journal
    The peer reviewers aren't paid. The editors are often pushing their own agendas as to what is worth publishing - a study that disproves what they personally have a financial interest in won't see the light of day.

    The Review on Antidepressant Withdrawal That Cochrane Won’t Publish [madinamerica.com]

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by HiThere on Saturday February 15 2020, @09:29PM (1 child)

    by HiThere (866) on Saturday February 15 2020, @09:29PM (#958605) Journal

    There are a few problems with the web system as it exists. Peer review is one of them. Prestige is another. These need to be fixed.

    That said, the current system has done a lot over the last few decades to discredit itself as any better. Fake journals and reviewers pushing agendas are only a couple of the problems. And, of course, expense.

    What's probably needed is a system of "editors" who establish a reputation based on what papers they recommend. They wouldn't have any censorship rights, but they would be able to chose what papers they recommended. One thing this might develop from is web sites like http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/ [sciencemag.org] or possibly from something like http://www.politifact.com/ [politifact.com] , only focused on scientific papers rather than politics.

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    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @09:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @09:48PM (#958608)

      https://forbetterscience.com/2020/01/24/the-full-service-paper-mill-and-its-chinese-customers/amp/ [forbetterscience.com]

      54 papers in Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, 15 in BioFactors, 15 in Journal of Cellular Physiology, 5 in Phytotherapy Research (Wiley);
      42 in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 26 in Experimental and Molecular Pathology, 10 in Life Sciences, 9 in International Immunopharmacology (Elsevier);
      5 in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 4 in Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, 8 in BMC Cancer (Springer Nature);
      whooping 75 papers in Artificial Cells Nanomedicine and Biotechnology (Taylor & Francis),

      Those are businesses, paid for publishing content AND for reading that published content. Doing better review to remove bulk customersfraudsters would hurt their bottom line, so it isn't done. Empty talk about "high quality reviewing", on the other hand, can be bought in bulk for a pittance, so it is.