The Crisis in Scientific Publishing
When deciding where to submit your manuscript,
please consider the following.
Your goal is to be read by the widest possible audience.
Other, more or less noble goals, such as contributing to
scientific knowledge or becoming famous, are also best achieved by being
read by the widest possible audience.
Your paper will be read only if it is accessible.
One way to do this is to post your paper on the web,
on open archives such as arXiv,
as well as on your personal webpage
or on a webpage belonging to your department, group, university, etc.
Almost all publishers allow you to post preprint versions,
and to leave your version posted after the article is published;
check here for the conditions
imposed by each publisher.
See the EU open access petition.
An alternative is to post only a list of your articles
along with your email address to which to send reprint requests.
Another consideration is the journal to which you submit.
Commercial journals (Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Taylor and Francis, etc.)
tend to cost six to ten times more (per article, per page, per citation)
than journals published by professional societies (Americal Physical
Society, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, etc.)
or by universities. Surprisingly, this ratio has risen drastically since 1990,
just as the advent of word processing and electronic typesetting drastically
decreased publishing costs.
Do you really want your work to appear in a journal which libraries
cannot afford to buy? Do you want to contribute your time and effort --
and that of the institution which pays you -- to researching, refereeing
and editing for these journals?
One place to read about these issues is on the
journal pricing page of Ted Bergstrom,
professor of economics at UCSB, whose academic specialty is
the pricing of academic journals.
Use this site
to compare journal prices in your discipline.
The issue is the same for Open Access.
This ambiguous terminology covers (at least) two models.
One is sometimes called "Gold". I prefer the more informative "Author Pays".
Another is sometimes called "Green". I prefer "no one pays" or,
more accurately, "benefactor pays"), e.g. arXiv.
In this terminology, articles available through journal subscriptions
would be called "reader pays".
Commercial journals charge fees for Open Access (Gold) which are usually
far above those charged by non-profit journals.
Elsevier induced U.S. Congressmen Maloney and Issa to introduce
the Research Works Act, restricting the ability of public
research organizations to distribute research findings.
This led to a much-publicized boycott of Elsevier and the ultimate defeat of the RWA.
Sign and publicize the boycott at
The Cost of Knowledge
Do you remember George Orwell's 1984? Commercial publishers
plan to argue that open access to scientific literature constitutes
a form of censorship. To do so, they hired
the same public relations expert who was hired to defend Enron executives
and to harass Greenpeace; read
PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access
if you have access to Nature. In a similar vein,
Gordon and Breach sued
the American Institute of Physics
and the American Physical Society and threatened to sue
the American Mathematical Society
to suppress articles comparing costs of physics and math journals,
claiming that such comparisons threatened marketplace competition.
Do you ever use the website
Mathworld of Eric Weisstein? Did you know that it was
almost suppressed by CRC Press (part of the Taylor and Francis group),
who argued that the website competed unfairly with the paper version
Eric Weisstein had contracted with CRC to publish?
Read The Story of Mathworld .
Here is a letter by
the editorial board of Topology announcing the resignation of
the entire board in protest of the pricing
policies of Elsevier. Here is the
letter by Donald Knuth (inventor of TeX)
to the editorial board of the Journal of Algorithms, another
Elsevier journal, which led the board to resign
and found a different journal.
Returning Scientific Publishing to Scientists
the Scholarly Societies Project.
Here are some presentations in French in powerpoint ,
open office , pdf
about this issue.
Here is a recent presentation at the Carrefour de l'IST (pdf)
and another at ESPCI (pdf) .
In English, see the
on nonlinear journals given at the SIAM conference on
Applications of Dynamical Systems at Snowbird, Utah, 2005.
Or just type
Crisis in Scientific Publishing into Google and browse.