| May 29, 2012

Academic Journals are too Expensive For Harvard, Elsevier is Mega Greedy, and Why this Stinks for Future Librarians

  • Hilton Gibson
  • Dr Qwerty

    Hi Dorotea. Thanks for an interesting blog. Do you foresee any downside for libraries if the research community was hypothetically to move to 100% open access publishing? That is, is there not a risk the role of the library becomes less relevant if the end user can merely go to an open access platform on the web, whereas previously they absolutely required library to access info they need?

    • No I don’t think so.  Academic
      Research libraries sometimes host open access repositories (i.e. Cornell
      hosting arXiv) and some have their own official repositories where they make student and university
      research freely available.  It will
      really depend on how open access develops and how libraries collaborate with
      new technologies.  I do not feel it is
      the intention of open access to make libraries irrelevant and there is opportunity for collaboration.  The more open and accessible information is the better, especially if the library can link to and provide access to the information at the fraction of the cost of journals.  

      • Dr Qwerty

        Thanks for reply. I see you are an optimist. Another aspect of issue is that it may be more expensive for institutes who are net exporters of knowledge (e.g. Harvard) to pay author fees to publish in OA journals than it is to buy traditional journal subscriptions. Do you have a view on that?

        • Dorotea Szkolar

          I don’t think a library should pay authors per say because
          librarianship is not about publishing. 
          What we should be concerned with is connecting people with information
          that will be impactful to whatever it is they are trying to achieve.  Librarians should also be interested in
          cultivating information creation and in that regard, maybe libraries do support
          similar goals to publishing.  I don’t
          ever think it will be a either we have all academic journals or all
          repositories situation, honestly.  In
          fact, there are certain scientific journals which require authors, in order to
          be published, to put all of their data in open access repositories.  Some scientific data sets are too large for
          the journals to publish, but they want that information to be accessible to readers
          who want it. 

          Now for institutions like universities, don’t they already pay
          and expect their professors to do research?  The problem is we have a system where in order
          for an academic to succeed, he or she must publish in journals to gain credibility.  Now, in order to publish, the author, from
          what I understand, usually must sign over rights for that research and paper, which
          the university or government funded and author put in all this hard work to
          produce.  Then for what, for research
          produced and paid by the university to get sold back to the university library
          highly marked up?  I want scholars to
          rethink the system as new technology is now available and explore alternative
          ways of sharing information in which the authors/academics can retain rights to
          their work and the university can maintain rights to that research.  These alternatives have to become just as respectable
          as publishing in a journal.  Is open
          access the answer to that?  I don’t know,
          but maybe it’s a start. 

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