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My lab:

Scholarly publishers feel the heat, frantically struggling to preserve their threatened business model. More and more it seems they may be going the way of the music industry into irrelevance, when it would be so easy to embrace new technology and survive. Here are two technically easy things which would save academic publishing:

  • Agree on industry-wide, open standards for interoperability and re-use. With such standards, we would be able to have single-click submissions without reformatting. Write paper, pick journal and hit 'submit', that's it. With such standards, the technical obstacles for an actually usable scholarly search technology would be removed. Such technology would allow the development of IT-assisted, smart alert tools which aid researchers in stayng on top of their literature by suggesting only relevant publications. With such standards, the pernicious ranking of journals would stop, as article-level metrics would be easily available (either from publishers or via open APIs).
  • Get rid of subscriptions by offering institutions (i.e., libraries) gold OA deals for their subscription funds (not that I personally would like that, but given the stranglehold publishers currently have on libraries, it would work). PLoS and BMC show that it can work financially.

Those two changes alone would eliminate many of the most egregious shortcomings of the scholarly literature today and thus placate the vast majority of people currently pushing for publishing reform, in effect deflating the entire movement. And yet, I'd bet neither will happen.
Posted on Wednesday 06 March 2013 - 10:00:35 comment: 2

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