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"Scholarly publishing is broken"


In the web magazine Berfrois, Jon Tennant dissects the many flaws in the current model of scholarly publishing, where a small number of privately owned journals with exorbitant subscription rates determine what research is important. Tennant calls this an unfair and antiquated system, especially in the face of the many innovative open-access publishing models now available. Here’s an excerpt:

The European Commission is currently letting publishers bid for the development of an EU-wide open-access scholarly publishing platform. But is the idea for this platform too short-sighted? What the Commission is doing is essentially finding new ways of channelling public funds into private hands. At the same time, due to the scale of the operation, it prevents more innovative services from getting a foothold into the publishing world. This is happening at the same time as these mega-publishers are moving into controlling the entire research workflow – from ideation to evaluation. Researchers will become the provider, the product, and the consumer.

A global community to coordinate and regain control – to develop a public open-access infrastructure – of research and scholarly communication for the public good is long overdue. The issues of governance and ownership of public research have never been clearer. Another isolated platform will simply replicate the problems of the current journal-based system, including the ‘publish or perish’ mentality that perverts the research process, and the anachronistic evaluation system based on corporate brands.

Image: The headquarters of Springer publishing in Berlin. Springer is one of the largest academic publishers in the world. Via