Friday inspiration #1: The Business of Academic Publishing

Well, it’s Friday and everyone’s ready to leave their offices, so I thought I could start a Friday inspiration series where I will present a paper/book that has inspired me or made me think about things.

Although I’m relatively busy with transcribing interviews for my PhD, a recent tweet by one of my colleagues at Aalto University, Mikko Heiskala, really caught my interest. Here‘s the original piece published in The Guardian. To be honest, I had never thought about the business model behind academic publishing, but as it turned out, it is extremely fascinating and provides interesting insights for people involved in the academia and publishing articles in academic journals.

So I started to dig deeper and I found this piece that talks about the current situation (back in 2008) and how we could move away from the almost oligopolistic market situation. The authors offer two alternatives: 1) libraries form bigger alliances to get more bargaining power and 2) open access online journals. While these two future paths are interesting and perhaps will turn into something, I think there is at least another potential solution.

I don’t know how the solution would look like – yet – but perhaps it could be a combination of online distribution and new pricing models. It seems unsustainable how badly distorted the academic publication industry currently is, with a couple of major players reaping all the profits. This is a topic I could speak about for hours, but since I’m somewhat busy with the transcriptions, I would like to offer you some food for thought: given that the academic publication industry needs a change (both pricing and operation-wise), how would you change it? Or in other words, can we even dream of changing it since all the tenured positions, for example, are dependent on how much you publish in high-ranking journals?

Have a nice weekend!

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