November 26, 2004

Scientific publications: storm in a tea cup?

On Tuesday I attended a UKSG event - Scientific Publications: Free for all?

The day was focused on the much-anticipated report of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on scientific publications which appeared in July, and generated a great deal of interest throughout the academic community, libraries and publishers.

The event was very interesting - there were presentations from librarians, and publishers, but my fears were confirmed. The government in its response to the report doesn't think there's a problem, whilst the academics are burying their heads in the sand, or appear to be completely unaware of the flaws with the existing scholarly communication model - yet it is the academics who are at the heart of the process - publishing their research findings in scholarly journals. Why wasn't an academic perspective presented?

It is the academic community which is at both ends of the publishing cycle. Academics publish the content, and they read other's work once published. It strikes me that until they actually comprehend that, then the fundamental model will not change. So while the publishers and librarians discuss the issues around journal bundling, journal prices and the model as a whole, the discussion does not really involve the other key stakeholder - the academics.

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