Adam Liter send me this interesting piece on the Dutch university boycott of Elsevier publications. The complaint is one we are all familiar with: too expensive. It seems that academic publishers make lots of money on journals. Moreover, they do this on the back of lots of free labor. Reviewers are free, editor salaries are paltry, and buyers have little bargaining power. Not surprisingly this leads to large returns. With the internet, the thought that there must be a better way always comes bubbling to mind. So is there?
The obvious reply is that open source journals should be able to step into this breach and provide the same product at a better price. However, these journals have not taken over. Why not? Well, one reasons is that even such journals need cash and if it is not to be extracts from university libraries then it will come from this who want to publish. Some of this can be offset with grants. But this then means that scholars without such money will have to pony up (and the costs discussed can be large, running into 4 figures). So, what to do?
I really don't know, but I think that this is an important question, especially for linguists. IMO, we don't have enough good publishing venues and it takes forever for research to get into print. Maybe this is less important than it used to be given things like the Linguist List. Maybe publishing in LI or NLLT or NLS is not that important intellectually and that the only serious service journals provide is vetting of candidates for tenure. I don't know. What do you think? Is there a dark side to open source journals? Can they replace the large academic publishers? Should they? Your turn.