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New Players, New Priorities — Part 1: Governments and Politics Enter Scientific Publishing

English: The Captive from Sterne by Joseph Wri...

English: The Captive from Sterne by Joseph Wright c. 1775 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scientific publishing evolved within professional and scientific societies to serve science and scientists. The first journals were founded by scientific societies, a trait that has endured into the present day. Scientists and academics retained control over editorial matters, while delegating some business matters to specialists via professional staff or contracts with commercial publishers. Commercial publishers have also launched journals, recruiting academics and researchers to lead them. Publishers of many different sizes have thrived, launched new journals, and catered to specific and emerging communities and sub-communities. The journals economy has been a filtered peer-to-peer economy attuned to relevance and quality, with authors wishing to be published in the best venues as adjudged by their peers, and with other peers approving or rejecting their works based on the novelty, importance, or accuracy of their work.

This approach has maintained a natural and beneficial independence from funders and governments, which has been honored until very recently. Such an independent position is integral to unbiased editorial work and the social duty of scholarly publishing, whereby editors and brands signal quality and relevance through a review and rejection process that can be slow and imperfect, but which has also worked remarkably well. Failures have been viewed as scandals, underscoring the general reliability and overall independence of editors, authors, reviewers, and publishers.

As part of a peer-to-peer model, journals have traditionally received their funding from subscribers or their proxies (institutions, advertisers), an economic bargain that tilts activities toward reader priorities — relevance, quality, novelty, practicality — while also providing revenues that shield publishers from the corrosive temptations of money streaming from sources not aligned with audience interests.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a new type of publishing emerge that is at its roots informed by different priorities and supply-side funding. These priorities are funder and governmental priorities. Open access (OA) has provided a conduit for these players and their priorities by its dependence on research funding and utilization of government and funder mandates to achieve its ends. The ties are deep — the first clearly OA proposal, where the term “open access” may have been coined — the E-Biomed proposal — was co-authored by two US government employees at the time. This proposal was even more intrusive than what we have today, proposing government-run submission systems that would farm reports out to “independent” editorial boards of various journals, yet still trump them with publication of even the most borderline information. As this underscores, allowing funders and governments sway over scientific publication funding has the potential to erode traditional editorial and political firewalls, providing funders and governments with a direct line from funding or political regulation to publication.

We may look back years from now and see more clearly how OA was responsible for drawing scientific publishing away from scientists and academics, and putting it increasingly in the hands of funding bureaucracies and government officials. This series is an attempt to look ahead.

As one recent proprietary report from Outsell has stated, “Politics has found us.” The implications of this simple statement bear careful consideration.

This is the first in a three-part series exploring the potential long-term implications of the very important questions facing us imminently as mandates mount and academic centers continue to embrace OA without adequately considering its risks. Today’s post explores recent concerns along with new and possible intrusions of governments into scientific publishing. Tomorrow, I’ll examine concerns over the emerging role of funders. And, finally, Wednesday, I’ll outline how money is being used by governments and funders to coerce and coax a new type of scientific publishing, one which is consonant with their priorities, threatening the independence everyone presumes is an inviolable aspect of editorial decision-making and scientific publishing.

Editor’s Note: To underscore the fact that this blog is not all about OA, another post on a completely separate topic will be published each day so you’ll have something else to read if you’d prefer.

The Intrusion of Governments

Governments have two major attributes — politics and bureaucracy. Both pose risks to scientific publishing’s independence and integrity. Paradoxically, the current meddling in scientific publishing poses a risk to governments’ abilities to adequately fund research and to have the best information available for health and safety policymaking.

Scientists in governments have been a source of activism, which seems particularly non-scientific — they do not wait for evidence, but believe their scientific pedigrees given them the authority to create a priori policies. A recent personal essay about “scientism” captures this trend well:

All too many of my contemporaries in science have accepted without question the hype that suggests that an advanced degree in some area of natural science confers the ability to pontificate wisely on any and all subjects.

This arrogance has been the source of some of the governmental policies around OA thus far, as well as OA activism that has led to governmental activism (e.g., the Gowers petition).

Examples of governmental activism in scientific publishing are all around us — the NIH Public Access Policy, the Finch Report, new EU legislation being proposed, and so forth. At the root of these policies and recommendations lies a dubious concept — that when taxpayers pay taxes, they gain the right to any downstream output of what those taxes were used for. In a recent essay on the Huffington Post by Douglas Fields, Chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, argues that this is a perversion of both logic and fact — by no means does paying taxes create rights, and by no means are scholarly journals the product of government funding (yet). He writes:

Why does this twisted logic apply only to science? Newspapers thrive on publishing publicly financed political processes. By the same reasoning, shouldn’t the political results, including outcomes of elections and other publicly funded political activities, be made freely available by newspapers and TV rather than allowing the media to charge for publishing it? If you accept this, what would become of independent and rigorous review of the results of any publicly funded political processes?

At its basis, a government claiming that decisions to fund research creates interests in the scientific publishing industry is clearly overreach. As others have noted here, the government, through research grants, has paid for reports from participating scientists, not for papers published in journals, and especially not for rights to the full-text. OA has the potential to change this. With Gold OA, by paying article processing charges (APCs) on behalf of its researchers or through the grants themselves, governments could make a legitimate claim to published works. They will have, after all, paid for publication in the Gold OA scenario.

More and more concerns are emerging about the insidious and unintended effects of the OA publishing model. A group blog called TheDisorderofThings has authors expressing concerns about the RCUK policy and its implementation, in what it calls a “pay to say” system of Gold OA. These concerns are summarized as:

– It threatens academic freedom through pressures on institutions to distribute scarce APC resources and to judge work by standards other than peer review

– It threatens research funding by diverting existing funds into paying for publications (and private journal profits) rather than into research

– It increases academic inequality both across and within institutions, by linking prestige in research and publishing to the capacity to pay APCs, rather than to academic qualities

– It threatens academic control of research outputs by allowing for commercial uses without author consent

Fields also touches on similar concerns, and worries about the ability to cultivate new fields when scientists aren’t in charge, another theme being sounded by those seeing a consolidation of funding as bad for young researchers or those on the fringe of major academia:

A corporate/government financial alliance is replacing scholarly publication once organized and run by scientists and academics. . . . One wonders how many new advances in science will never have an opportunity to take root now that scientific publication is an increasingly corporate and government business rather than the scholarly academic activity that it was for centuries.

Fields’ concern is confirmed by statements coming from government bureaucrats concerned with budgets and costs. At a recent meeting in the UK, Paul Hubbard, head of research policy at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, is reported to have said:

. . . academics should be made conscious of the costs of publishing and that some people were simply publishing too much. Second, he noted that the Government were keen to use the [Research Excellence Framework] REF to promote open access since the REF was good at getting people to change their behaviour.

Here we have a government official stating explicitly that the number of publications might be subject to budget constraints, and that the government is interested in changing academic behavior and limiting publication rates based on budgets, not quality or merit. Let that sink in for a moment — the government wants to create a scientific publication system where it can set limits on how much gets published, and use its policy frameworks to exert influence over how academics work and share information.

Compare this to the subscription model, where even if only 100 or 500 subscribers can afford to subscribe, the information is published, indexed, and abstracted. There can be no “open access” if budget cuts keep scientists from publishing — that would be the ultimate unintended consequence.

We’re well into a decade of governmental activism regarding publishing policies and practices. Governments are spending money, establishing policies, and enforcing these policies to dictate some of the terms under which our industry operates. This increasingly complex quilt of requirements makes compliance with government mandates a measure of pre-publication acceptability, for authors and editors, and represents a potential threat to editorial independence and author autonomy. It also makes publishers dependent on government funding as OA seeks to strip away the diversified models of subscription businesses and replace them with the limited financial options available via funding sources like governments and commercial and philanthropic funders.

As noted above, government intrusion can come in many guises, but financial aspects are the most palpable. We have already have governmental reviews of prices and publication policies in multiple countries. As economic issues arise — from fiscal cliffs to austerity budgets to currency crises — governmental funding swings hard and heavy and unpredictably. It is not the finely attuned and widely distributed subscription and licensing economy independent publishers have thrived in, one which buffers economic downturns and avoids direct risks. Governmental budgets can vary wildly from year to year, affecting entire industries, not just one or two titles. This is a new and systemic risk we’re courting, and courting it provides no clear benefit to science.

Policy enactment and enforcement provide another example. Recently, the NIH announced it will increase its enforcement of compliance with its Public Access Policy by holding back further funding if papers aren’t deposited in PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. This announcement is interesting in a couple of ways. First, while publishers are responsible for most of the compliance using what is bureaucratically and opaquely termed “Method A” deposit, they are not credited with this in communications from NIH. Second, while manuscripts are adequate to meet the policy’s requirements, the blog post from the Deputy Director of Extramural Research about this ends with, “Keep those publications coming!”

Policymakers often lack follow-through and can easily become divorced from reality. The authors of the Finch Report reportedly distanced themselves from the reality of their own recommendations at a recent conference in the UK:

One of the most curious things about this policy which emerged throughout the day is that it is ostensibly now ‘orphaned’ by its commissioners and designers – the Department for Business, Industry and Skills, and the Finch Working Group. ‘Implementation’ throughout this process has apparently been treated entirely separately to the actual policy itself. Finch herself clearly repudiated any responsibility for the outcomes of the policy, arguing that this is now something for institutions and researchers to negotiate . . .

There is a difference between a well-formed policy — one that satisfies its authors and their sponsors and has all the hallmarks of officiousness and authority — and a good policy, one that will be effective and helpful. A good policy should be based in reality, and use observable facts and measures to guide and revise it. There is little evidence that the Finch Report is based on reality:

. . . much of the report itself seemed to be based on speculation rather than evidence from comparator countries with different policies. Moreover, it is clear that from the perspectives of scholarly authors however, the proposed ‘pay-to-say’ system may be highly destabilising, compromising academic freedom, draining tight research budgets and excluding a wide number of scholars from publishing. These huge issues are however nowhere discussed in the Finch Report, and have not made an impact on the direction of Government policy either.

Governments are placing not only an extra burden on publishers and editors by requiring them to check for or participate in compliance, but is also placing an extra burden on investigators and authors, as this note from the NIH states:

I encourage principal investigators to start thinking about public access compliance when papers are planned. . . . This will help you avoid a last minute scramble that could delay your funding.

Research funding decisions based on significance, novelty, the team’s likelihood of success, and methodological design are sensible and scientific. Now, research funding is becoming contingent on compliance with governmental publication policies. The value of these policies is presumed, but has not been demonstrated. Meanwhile, funding is held hostage to ensure these unproven and half-baked government policies are followed.

The priority government is giving through these policies can be stated as, “We’ll delay further research for active researchers or drain research budgets, thereby slowing scientific progress, because we believe there is some as-yet unproven value in making papers free to the lay public.” This is a political stance, not a scientific stance.

Of course, there are other ways for governments to intrude if scientific publishing begins to be viewed as a captive service industry. How far are some willing to allow government to intrude? Cory Doctorow recently argued that private companies should be required to publish all their research on OA terms because the government regulates these companies — in this case, pharmaceutical companies. I certainly agree with trial registration and making companies accountable for the risks they ask volunteers to take during clinical trials, but that’s a different argument. Doctorow predicates his argument entirely on government’s role:

The reason pharma companies should be required to publish their results isn’t that they’ve received a public subsidy for the research. Rather, it is because they are asking for a governmental certification saying that their products are fit for consumption, and they are asking for regulatory space to allow doctors to write prescriptions for those products. We need them to disclose their research – even if doing so undermines their profits – because without that research, we can’t know if their products are fit for use.

In Doctorow’s scenario, publishers are considered part of the regulatory environment, insofar as governmental activity managing corporations would require publication — that is, if something could be regulated, a publisher would be required to publish any paper about it. Doctorow is moving journals, editors, and publishers squarely into serving as governmental and corporate water-carriers, and away from independence.

The political aspects of governmental intervention are not to be overlooked. This threat is both obvious and subtle. That is, governments will be comfortable funding well-established researchers and research directions, less comfortable funding new, iconoclastic, or revisionist research. If scientific publishing begins to depend overtly on government funding or approval from governmental bureaucracies, these political decisions could shape science intrinsically. There is also the more subtle chilling effect that becomes all the more real if government funding or researcher funding becomes more contingent on meeting governmental policies and bureaucratic requirements.

There is also the asymmetry between author funding and reader funding to consider. There are far fewer funders and governments than there are readers, libraries, and licensors. OA concentrates power by concentrating finances in a few well-funded hands. Governments are one of these power centers OA creates. The value of distributed finances is not to be underestimated as a way to protect independence. If there are thousands paying, no single one has much of a chance of exerting much influence; if there are dozens paying, the odds of coercion go up significantly while the ability to resist falls.

Governments can also be opaque and not open. Nobody knows how much PubMed Central costs per year to run, despite it being funded by taxpayer monies and a public resource. When I broke the PMC/eLife scandal, David Lipman, head of the NCBI, went on record with a journalist saying:

At this time, we don’t think that engaging Mr. Anderson in a public rebuttal is productive.

The hypocrisy of an “openness” advocate who is drawing their salary from taxpayers to answer in this way is stark. There is no part of the NCBI that is not taxpayer-funded, yet it is a black box.

Bureaucratic process is often a priority for governments once the political dust clears. It’s not hard to imagine bureaucrats fashioning rules about which journals it will allow grants to be used for, what their policies for peer-review and publication speed must be, and so forth. Imagine a world in which a government states that it will only fund publication in journals that have, let’s call it “Type 3 peer review” or better. Already, governments are dictating terms of access and what they’ll pay for — it’s not a leap for them to add assurances of how the publishing is done. In other realms, providers of government services have to comply with dozens or hundreds of requirements to obtain government funding. OA has us approaching a slippery slope of bureaucratic entanglements.

By allowing momentum to grow behind a trend that would bind publishers to suppliers rather than users of the literature, and tie our industry to public financing and government rule-making about what scientific publications can and cannot do, we are risking a system of objective evaluation that has served science well as an independent method of publication that is driven by quality. Ironically, governments depend on the products of this objective and disinterested review system to make policies, approve drugs and devices, and monitor public health. At one level, governments are working against themselves by intruding in a process it needs in order to be more effective.

Tomorrow, I’ll explore how OA has allowed funders to get a seat at the table, and how their involvement in scientific publishing is potentially corrosive, setting new priorities for authors, editors, and publishers which are not necessarily consonant with good science or public interests. On Wednesday, I’ll explore how the tool of choice — money — is being used by funders and governments to establish policy and modify academic behavior.

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About Kent Anderson

I am the CEO/Publisher of the STRIATUS/JBJS, Inc., the home of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, JBJS Case Connector, JBJS Reviews, JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques, the JBJS Recertification Course, PRE-val, and SocialCite. Prior to this, I was an executive at the New England Journal of Medicine. I also was Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Discussion

29 thoughts on “New Players, New Priorities — Part 1: Governments and Politics Enter Scientific Publishing

  1. As part of a peer-to-peer model, journals have traditionally received their funding from subscribers or their proxies (institutions, advertisers), an economic bargain that tilts activities toward reader priorities — relevance, quality, novelty, practicality — while also providing revenues that shield publishers from the corrosive temptations of money streaming from sources not aligned with audience interests.

    While this is true it is also true that independent publishing can be manipulated by some funders through ghost-writing, reprint orders, and advertising thereby tilting the publishing process toward a whole different set of corrosive temptations.

    Posted by David Riley | Dec 10, 2012, 11:16 am
    • I agree, the current model is not ideal, but as I noted, at least the things you enumerated are viewed as inappropriate and scandalous, and managed accordingly. In the world that is being proposed, I’ve noted a definite laxness toward the new conflicts of interest, as if funders or governments can do no wrong, and don’t need to be managed, have their conflicts disclosed to readers, or lose the right to publish based on conflicts. So, the concern is moving from something with a few problems to something with the problems baked in.

      Posted by Kent Anderson | Dec 10, 2012, 11:26 am
  2. There is another aspect to this trend you don’t highlight here, and that is the unholy alliance that may be struck between government bureaucracies and the largest publishers, who have the greatest means to lobby and thereby “capture” control of how agency funding is carried out. Shifting away from intellectually grounded criteria to pure political power in determining who, and what kind of research, gets supported will substitute one type of power for another and perpetuate, or even exacerbate, the vast inequalities that exist now among publishing entities, further putting at a disadvantage smaller society- and university-based publishers in comparison with the large commercial players.

    Posted by Sandy Thatcher | Dec 10, 2012, 11:34 am
  3. The involvement of government in publishing is not quite as new as you claim. The United States Geological Survey has a loooooong history of publishing (back nearly to its founding–O.C. Marsh’s 1880 USGS monograph on toothed birds is still viewed as a classic), as does the Smithsonian and NASA. USGS and Smithsonian journals are still viewed as some of the best in the field. And those freely-available topographic maps? USGS. . .even so, this hasn’t stopped a booming industry of companies who capitalize on these data.

    Posted by Andy Farke | Dec 10, 2012, 11:52 am
  4. You say that academics retained control over editorial matters while delegating other aspects to professional staff. It’s worth noting that the so-called ‘holy trinity’ of Science, Nature & Cell also chose to put editorial matters in the hands of professional staff. This increasingly angers many academics (rightly or wrongly) and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of eLife, which aims to put decisions about the ‘best science’ in the hands of academic editors. It is easy to see how, in the eyes of many, professional editors subsequently are conflated with corporate publishing (‘bad’) and academic editors with funders/government (‘good’) and support for the latter’s involvement in the process is fueled by anger at a different issue.

    Posted by Richard Sever | Dec 10, 2012, 3:31 pm
    • “Rightly or wrongly” is key. Some of the big journals need full-time, dedicated editors because of the workload, and also to remove the editors from conflict-of-interest entanglements.

      Posted by Kent Anderson | Dec 10, 2012, 3:56 pm
      • Sure – that is the argument and there are many who would line up on both sides to debate the point all day. But my point was that it is actually a different argument, one that is often conflated with the issue you raise and so draws supporters to one side.

        Posted by Richard Sever | Dec 11, 2012, 9:25 am
        • Yes, I understand. It would be nice if reason dominated emotion, however.

          I sometimes wonder if what is happening isn’t a technological revolution about publishing, but a technological revolution that is revealing a downside of a culture based on rejection — that is, allowing stored-up emotions and resentments to actualize. Is this a technological revolution of resentments and conspiracy theories?

          Posted by Kent Anderson | Dec 11, 2012, 9:37 am
  5. “We may look back years from now and see more clearly how OA was responsible for drawing scientific publishing away from scientists and academics, and putting it increasingly in the hands of funding bureaucracies and government officials.” We may indeed, and I agree we should be careful with political agenda’s and find ways protect independent academic publishing. But I find this looking back years from now a bit rich. What about the mess we’re in already? Perhaps government measures to protect scientific publishing from the benefits of the free market have been badly missing, or are you happy with a few dominant corporate publishers and the reign of impact factors as a measure for true quality? Perhaps we should worry instead about the fact that research itself is already being controlled by governments and a handful of funders?

    Posted by Eelco Ferwerda | Dec 10, 2012, 6:52 pm
    • I disagree that there are “a few dominant corporate publishers” when you look at the overall picture. Elsevier has 11% share, and everyone else is 3.5% or less. The non-bigs have 58% or better of the market, if memory serves. So I disagree with your portrayal of the current market on a factual basis. There are more than 100 scholarly publishing companies with revenues over $40M. It’s a diverse and competitive landscape, and even the big companies compete for contracts, so it’s competitive at that level, as well. The subscription model has created a vibrant and diverse landscape that’s very competitive and healthy. It’s not very concentrated, either. That’s a myth.

      As for the reign of impact factors, that’s not an issue this post touches upon, and is irrelevant to the problems outlined here. However, if you look at the posts here on that subject (just search it), you’ll find a lot to read, and not a lot of comfort with it or how it’s being used. I think we’d agree that our fealty to it is misplaced. However, it has a place.

      Posted by Kent Anderson | Dec 10, 2012, 7:41 pm
      • But surely you can’t pretend that the many small journal publishers, who may cumulatively control over 50% of the market, wield anywhere near the power of the major players like Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Sage, etc., or have anywhere close to the capital resources that the major players command. So it is hardly a level playing field among publishers. Only the largest could offer “big deals,” after all, which have dominated the market in recent years. You could make the same argument about the thousands of small independent publishers and self-publishers, in terms of the total number of books published in the trade market, but the big six still yield overwhelming power in that market, just as a handful of textbook publishers do in that market. It is, at best, an oligopolistic market.

        Posted by Sandy Thatcher | Dec 11, 2012, 12:04 am
        • You’re confusing commercial power with editorial power. Many small journals from small publishers have high impact factors, important audiences, and publish important works. Big publishers compete to publish these journals, and have to respect their editorial power to compete for them and renew them. This post was more concerned with editorial issues than market issues.

          And if the market is mostly players who control 0.5-1.5% of the market, it’s more diverse than an oligopoly. “Hundreds” is not an oligopoly.

          Posted by Kent Anderson | Dec 11, 2012, 12:11 am
          • I don’t think separating commercial and editorial power and the danger of editorial control and the problems with impact factors leaves us with a fruitful discussion. You are pointing at the danger of OA leading to direct or indirect goverment control of scientific communication. I’d argue that there are two potential evils, government control on one end and the forces of the free market at the other. Those forces lead to the serials crises and OA gained momentum as a response to that crisis. Shouldn’t we be looking for a balanced approach?

            Posted by Eelco Ferwerda | Dec 11, 2012, 6:19 am
          • It’s the number of companies that effectively dominate a market, not the total number of players, that determine whether an oligopoly exists. I don’t think anyone would argue that the Big Six trade publishers, which put out some 95% of the best sellers, constitute an oligopoy despite the fact that there are literally thousands of small and self-publishing entities involved in trade publishing.

            Posted by Sandy Thatcher | Dec 11, 2012, 12:00 pm
            • I still don’t think it applies. There’s a big difference between the Big Six dominating shelf space in retail stores (a fading advantage to size in the book market, one that is shifting to the Amazon search engine), and journals fragmented across dozens of disciplines, some run by big companies, some by small non-profits, and others by universities.

              That said, the Big Deal has definitely created more buying-power heft for the big companies in the institutional market. It’s been terrifically effective at eating up budgets. But even then, a lot of small societies with journals that might die otherwise do benefit from this. It’s a market with some interesting peculiarities.

              Posted by Kent Anderson | Dec 11, 2012, 12:57 pm
          • While I agree that there’s a difference between market power and editorial power, I do think that consolidation is an issue worth considering. In particular, the author-pays business model greatly favors economies of scale. You make it work better financially by either increasing the number of papers you accept or by cutting costs. Larger publishers are able to take advantage of scale to pay much less per-journal for the systems and services they use, and hence have an advantage in the second half of that equation. There’s a reason that BioMed Central, which publishes 244 journals and is part of Springer’s larger ecosystem, is profitable, while many independent, society or institution-owned smaller publishing houses are finding it impossible to break even with an author-pays model.

            Could these government and funder requirements drive further consolidation of the journals market into the hands of a small number of large corporations?

            Posted by David Crotty | Dec 11, 2012, 1:47 pm
            • I agree, consolidation is a distinct possibility in an OA world. It rewards a service-based approach, and services work better at scale. The hints to this are everywhere — OA publishers who launch with dozens or hundreds of titles; the financial success of the mega-journals.

              Posted by Kent Anderson | Dec 11, 2012, 1:59 pm
      • According to this 2003 study, the top eight held 66% of a 6b market: http://versita.com/UserFiles/File/STM%20Publishing%20Industry%20and%20Market.pdf
        According to this study, it is a 26b market in 2012: https://www.cheuvreux.com/dl.aspx?filter=164182

        STM publishing may be dynamic, but I doubt these two studies used the same selection criteria.., Anyway, in 2008, this book http://books.google.de/books?id=JPyY9RG7J38C wrote (p219-221):

        “Elsevier dominated the market with 24.6%” followed by Springer and Wiley-Blackwell with 7.4% each. They go on: “as indicated earlier, in 2005 the top 5 publishers generated 53% of industry revenues, compared with 30% for the next 15 largest publishers” and “the other stakeholders are finding trading conditions difficult” and “Why is market consolidation taking place in scholarly publishing?” and “Why are the larger publishers able to succeed where small publishers find it difficult?”

        Thus, according to these sources, it’s not only fair, but accurate to say that the market is increasingly dominated by a few large players.

        I’d like to see your sources, Mr. Anderson.

        Posted by brembs | Dec 11, 2012, 11:44 am
        • My source is here: http://www.outsellinc.com/store/products/1107. It is a very recent report from Outsell. It would cost you nearly $2,000 to purchase. Outsell knows this space very well. Your outdated sources are equity-based reports from the likes of JP Morgan, which skew toward publicly traded companies. One that was used is from EPS, a market research firm Outsell acquired a few years ago. I can’t get the second report to load to review it, but the criteria can’t be the same between the first and the second if you’re saying the market grew from $6 billion in 2003 to $26 billion in 2012. That’s simply not true at all. That’s more than 4x growth in less than a decade. It’s simply impossible for any industry to grow that fast, especially publishing in the digital age.

          You other reports are outdated, rely on the same equity-based bias of the first one, or are prosecutorial in nature. I was presenting current data from a source that is acknowledged as knowing what it’s talking about, and which has trended the market carefully for many years.

          Posted by Kent Anderson | Dec 11, 2012, 12:01 pm
          • By citing information hidden behind a $2.000 paywall, you very efficiently demonstrate how the toll-access business model can stifle scholarly discussions.

            Posted by Magnus Kjaergaard | Dec 12, 2012, 4:25 am
          • lol! Now that’s hilarious! Here’s what I get when I click that link:

            Error

            Whoops!? Sorry, you’ve encountered a bug in our application. Please try your action again. Our web site administrator has been notified about this error.

            If you need immediate assistance, please contact Outsell via e-mail at info@outsellinc.com or via phone at +1 650 342 6060.

            So the data you cite doesn’t even exist? And even if it exists, the company is so competent, it can’t even provide with a place for entering a CC number for the 2k? Now that’s some really credible evidence you providing here, I’m really ashamed now to have provided data anybody can check for
            themselves. I wonder if I’ll be charged US$2000 for calling that number on the error message?

            Maybe the URL means “selling out Inc.”? Now that would be fitting, lol :-)

            Is that really all you’ve got to counter heaps of agreeing and accessible data? Goes to show it can always get worse at TSK…

            Posted by brembs | Dec 20, 2012, 4:49 am
            • Bjorn, as charming as ever, I see. The link worked when I placed it, and it will work again once Outsell fixes some database or server problem they have. After all, they are the company that now includes the company (EPS) whose information you cited (even though it was 10 years old), so impugning their competence is also impugning your own citation by extension. However, I’m sure you know the industry well enough that this occurred to you. You’re obviously so knowledgeable that you don’t need to remain current with your data or facts — those that are a decade old inform your worldview, from which you judge current discussions — because rabid OA advocates like you always modify their worldviews based on new information, facts, and logical arguments.

              Oh, that’s right, they don’t. They hang on for dear life to an idea hatched in 1998, one that is morphing into a set of large corporate, funder, and government interests that could cripple scientific publishing’s reputation for unbiased review, selection, and publication.

              Because you don’t internalize any new information or observations, here we are again, with you trying any angle possible to undermine simple facts — quoting old data that’s incomplete and biased toward equity-funded companies, using a server error to impugn an entire report you haven’t even seen (and probably wouldn’t pay for anyhow), impugning the Scholarly Kitchen because you don’t like what we say sometimes, and braying like a donkey just because you’ve encountered a server error.

              Meanwhile, I have the data, know they exist, quoted from them accurately, and presented those facts openly. You could argue current facts — not outdated facts. You could argue the facts — not impugn them through unrelated events. But, of course, that might mean changing how you think. And we all know that’s not going to happen.

              Posted by Kent Anderson | Dec 20, 2012, 7:49 am
            • On November 26th, the servers hosting The Finch Report were down, and would respond with an error message when one tried to download the report. According to your logic, this completely invalidates the information in that report and the competence of the committee that prepared it. Also, there was a GMail outage recently, so I guess Google is no longer a credible tool.

              Seriously? This is the straw you’re grasping at?

              Posted by David Crotty | Dec 20, 2012, 8:40 am

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  2. Pingback: New Players, New Priorities — Part 2: The Problematic Role of Funders « The Scholarly Kitchen - Dec 11, 2012

  3. Pingback: New Players, New Priorities — Part 3: It’s Never About the Money; It’s Always About the Money « The Scholarly Kitchen - Dec 12, 2012

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The mission of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) is "[t]o advance scholarly publishing and communication, and the professional development of its members through education, collaboration, and networking." SSP established The Scholarly Kitchen blog in February 2008 to keep SSP members and interested parties aware of new developments in publishing.
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