2 responses

  1. Shawna
    September 21, 2009

    Just some scattered thoughts.

    Andrew and I have been thinking about a different form of online academic production than journals. It’s just like the rationale of web 2.0: why use the Internet to produce something you could produce off the Internet?

    Quality would be assured merely by popularity. Not all academic journals are accorded the same level of reputation; academics themselves create a hierarchy of journals based on their personal perception of the average quality of the work published in each journal. No one directly polices the production of such evaluations, but they happen everyday, and they really matter. (As you know, during the hiring process, committee members can easily judge who’s a better candidate, even if the candidates’ number of publications are all the same, based on the level of journal they write for.) If a journal is bad, it, quite simply, will be ignored. And if no one is out money, who cares?

    Finally, change comes slow in academia because of the long duration of the apprenticeship period and the grave consequences of failing to find a job or failing to get tenure. In such a situation, people are rewarded for following the accepted modes of garnering status. Even though it doesn’t look like academics get paid for journal publications, we absolutely need them to secure a well-paying job; in the long view, then, journal publication does involve money. Without a generation willing to put its academic life on the line, things will stay the same. And frankly, I don’t know if I’m willing to do that. Potentially throwing away 10 years of my life is not appealing.

  2. Matthew
    September 22, 2009

    A minor point of clarification:

    It is only most peer-reviewed journals that do not pay royalties on work submitted to their journal; there are actually a few who do. Several European-based journals allow the journal article author to retain the copyright (and, thus, collect royalties). Also a handful of US-based journals (e.g., College & University) will pay the authors a one-time fee to buy the copyright and publish the work**.

    **This is REALLY disconcerting when you get a random check in the mail for ~$40 and have to spend time figuring out why you got it…

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