It's been a few years since we first discussed the ridiculous racket known as academic publishing
. Unlike pretty much any other publication, all of the writing for these publications is done for free. Hell, in some subjects and for some journals, you actually have to pay
to submit your papers. The "peer review" is all done for free and often any editing is done for free by an academic to build his or her reputation and CV. So, basically, you have just a tiny fraction of the costs of most any other publication, and yet, the mega-publishers behind these journals charge ridiculous amounts for subscriptions and even for single articles. Even worse, a significant percentage of academic research is still heavily funded by the US government (our taxpayer dollars), yet much of it is locked up behind these incredibly high prices. In many cases, the journals forbid the researcher from releasing the paper elsewhere (though many academics, thankfully, ignore this and offer up PDF downloads). NIH now requires research it funded to be publicly published a year after its published in a proprietary journal, and there are efforts to expand that to other government funding as well -- but the publishers have lobbied very hard
against this, and even wish to repeal the NIH rule.
An article over at the Atlantic delves into this issue, going through the ridiculous economics showing how much lower the costs are for journals -- especially in this digital age -- and pointing out that this impacts everyone, rather than just doctors and scientists
. The rest of the world shouldn't be cut off from research like this -- especially when it's federally funded. As John Bennett points out in response to that article, this is another example of intellectual monopolies
making things ridiculously more expensive than the market should allow. As Thomas Macauley famously said
a century and a half ago:
"the effect of monopoly generally is to make articles scarce, to make them dear, and to make them bad."