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Blogs: 160
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Location: Kyoto and Auckland
Work interests: research, editing, science communication
Affiliation/website: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
Preferred contact method: Any
Preferred contact language(s): English, German
Contact: email = researchcooperative-at-gmail-dot-com
Favourite publications: Various, and especially the open access versions of older journals with effective review systems

Founding Member



Work: ethnobotany, prehistory, museum curation
Affiliations: 1996-present: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. 1995: Freelance editor, Kyoto. 1994: JSPS Research Visitor, Kyoto University, Kyoto. 1993: Research Visitor, Australian National University, Canberra. 1991: Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka.1990: STA Fellow, National Institute for Ornamental Plants, Vegetables, and Tea (NIVOT), Ano, Japan
Contact: National Museum of Ethnology, Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka, Japan 565-8511
Biographical: Established the Research Cooperative in 2001
Favourite Publications: Various

Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?

user image 2022-06-29
By: Research Cooperative
Posted in: Publishing

Stephen Buryani, writing in The Guardian (full report) (Tue 27 Jun 2017 06.00 BST), asks: " Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?"

His report is an extended expose of profiteering by the private corporations that control scientific publishing, yet the answer is ambiguous. The silent question raised is: "What would have happened if private companies had not led expansion and innovation in scientific publishing, over the last 100 years?"

The following quotations are from near the beginning of this brilliant, surprising, and enlightening report. I strongly urge all members of our network to read the original if they can.

Quotes, courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd:

"In 2010, Elsevier’s scientific publishing arm reported profits of £724m on just over £2bn in revenue. It was a 36% margin – higher than Apple, Google, or Amazon posted that year."

"...scientific publishers manage to duck most of the actual costs. Scientists create work under their own direction – funded largely by governments – and give it to publishers for free; the publisher pays scientific editors who judge whether the work is worth publishing and check its grammar, but the bulk of the editorial burden – checking the scientific validity and evaluating the experiments, a process known as peer review – is done by working scientists on a volunteer basis. The publishers then sell the product back to government-funded institutional and university libraries, to be read by scientists – who, in a collective sense, created the product in the first place."

"A 2005 Deutsche Bank report referred to it as a “bizarre” “triple-pay” system, in which “the state funds most research, pays the salaries of most of those checking the quality of research, and then buys most of the published product”."

"Even scientists who are fighting for reform are often not aware of the roots of the system: how, in the boom years after the second world war, entrepreneurs built fortunes by taking publishing out of the hands of scientists and expanding the business on a previously unimaginable scale."

[Note: 223 words are quoted here. Under the terms of an Open License , the Guardian permits up to 500 words to be quoted with attribution, in blogs such as this. Sincere thanks to Guardian News & Media for these generous terms! (PJM)]

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