[Air-l] Open access publishing (was a modest proposal)

Alex Halavais halavais at gmail.com
Sat Sep 9 20:45:38 PDT 2006

I believe Charles was referring to individually-directed comments
rather than comments of substance.

That said, I know that while I have a continuing interest in the
evolution of scholarly publishing, I didn't understand Rasputin's
initial post. I assumed it didn't refer to AIR: Like many social
science conferences, AIR doesn't publish proceedings, but we do
provide the opportunity for authors to distribute their conference
papers through our website.

As for the field more generally: there does seem to be some irony that
many of our top journals remain "closed." It would be wrong to say
that they don't publish electronically: I can't think of one that does
not provide internet access to their articles. However, I think the
social sciences have been slower to embrace open access than some of
the sciences (particularly math and physics), and a bit faster to
embrace open publishing than many of the humanities. That's a
broad--probably overbroad--generalization, and I can think of a number
of interesting humanities and arts-based open access publishing
experiments dating to the early popularity of the net. But it is
vexing that some of our top journals remain behind a pay wall.

Of course, there are a number of open access journals in our field,
including JCMC, which I think continues to have a very solid
reputation, especially for so young a journal. And, while some see it
as a bit "too" open, First Monday continues to be an interesting
source of open access material. There are several others as well.

And I should note that I think one of the most promising ways of
encouraging the continuation of open access is to--a la Nike--"Just do
it!" I think it is imperative that as scholars we self-archive our
papers. I think Barry Wellman serves as a great model for this, and I
think a fairly large number of AIR members also provide versions of
their work online.

Unfortunately, I think that a lot of scholars continue to feel that
on-paper publication carries more weight (so to speak) than internet
publications. Part of this, no doubt, has to do with potential for
confusion. On the web, nobody knows if your dog is peer reviewed. The
web is replete with bad scholarship, and since most websurfers, I
suspect, are not well equipped to differentiate between, say, a peer
reviewed journal like JCMC and a site set up by a quack or an
interested corporation to look like it is an academic site. This makes
some scholars shy away in favor of more established, traditional
publication outlets.

I suspect that the move to open access journals could largely be
completed in a single stroke: the requirement by NSF that grantees
publish in open access journals.

- Alex

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