The Academic Journal System

So, as I slowly make my way through the academic world, I’m learning about the whole journal process and the business of journals.

This is how it appears to me at this point in my career:

Academics submit articles that are peer-reviewed by other academics who are experts in the field.  When a paper is accepted, the author of the article gives away their copyright to the publisher.  The publisher then bundles these articles and sells them back to the academic institution where many of the authors of these papers work.  So, universities are paying to have academics write these articles and then paying some outside party to have access to these same articles.  And if you don’t pay a ton of money to these publishers, you have no access to these articles without stealing them.  This is insane.

So, it seems, some people also thought that the public not having access to these articles, some of which are funded with public money, was insane.  So open access journals were create.  Once an article is published in an open access journal, anyone in the world can view it.  Of course, it costs the author up to several thousand dollars to publish in many of these open access journals.  That is also insane.  It seems to me that the most important part of this whole process is the peer-review process.  In fact, it’s really, in my mind, the only essential part of this process.

So, here is what I am proposing and someone please tell me why this wouldn’t work:

A totally free, totally open access journal (do any of these exist?).  Authors would write a manuscript, the manuscript would get sent out to reviewers and the peer-review process would take place.  Once an article was accepted it would be published on, for instance, a wordpress blog, which will host everything for free (or if you needed more space you could purchase it very cheaply).  Then the whole world could read all of this brilliant scientific work for free.  Universities would save money because they wouldn’t have to pay for access to journal articles and grant money could be spent on useful things for advancing science rather than going to the fees for open access journals.  Why is this not a better system than what currently exists?  Everything would stay the same, we’d just remove the publishers from skimming millions (billions?) of dollars out of the system.  Isn’t the concept of a publisher antiquated at this point anyway?  I mean take what I’ve just written, for instance.  No publisher necessary.

So, someone please tell me why this wouldn’t work.  Maybe I am totally missing something important I don’t realize.

Cheers.

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Posted on January 30, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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