The abstract for my talk at Congress 2015, in Ottawa:
The economics of scholarly communications are complex. In fact, it could be said that there are two parallel economies that mirror each other: a symbolic economy of reputation or “prestige”, which is obvious and important to scholars, and a material economy that is most clear to the academic library. These two economies intersect at the overlap of dissemination and assessment that occurs at the site of publication, carrying important consequences for any transition to an open-access environment.
In this portion of the panel discussion, I will outline why it is that many of the economic difficulties for a transition to open access are rooted in issues of quality control. This will involve discussions of blind peer review and so-called “predatory” publishers but, most prominently, it will focus on the fact that the perceived use of publisher or journal brand as a proxy measure for assessment is intensely damaging to any OA transition. This is because such measures, even if only perceived by researchers, rather than truly used by funders or hirers, concentrate market power into the hands of an ever-decreasing number of ever-more monopolistic entities.
After laying out the background to this economic situation, I will close with an assessment of practices that can mitigate this damage and the progress on alternative business models for gold open access that may work better in different disciplinary funding climates. This will touch upon: “altmetrics” as a potential route for exploration, with a critical eye on the potential populism of such assessment; a focus on “reviewer brand” as a quality signal; and transition strategies that focus on large-scale library consortia as a funding route.
I hope you’ll be able to join us. The panel is on the 3rd June at 3pm in the Colonel By Building, C03. The session is called “Open Access Awareness: What Scholars Need to Know” and I’ll be joined by John Willinsly, Heather Morrison and Andrea Whiteley.