Monday, September 24, 2012

Just say no to academic press barons

Academic journals have been taken over by for-profit publishing giants such as Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley-Blackwell, writes Hugh Gusterson.  Their profits are enormous. In 2010, Elsevier reported $3.2 billion in revenues; its CEO earned $4.6 million.  Gusterson wants to know why  academics donate their time to prop up these corporations.  He writes:

"So why not try this: If academic work is to be commodified and turned into a source of profit for shareholders and for the 1 percent of the publishing world, then we should give up our archaic notions of unpaid craft labor and insist on professional compensation for our expertise, just as doctors, lawyers, and accountants do."

"This does not mean we would never referee articles free. Just as the lawyer who is my neighbor bills corporate clients a hefty fee but represents prisoners in Guantánamo pro bono, so academics could referee without charge for nonprofit presses but insist on professional rates of compensation from for-profit publishers that expect us to donate our labor while paying mansion salaries to their chief executives and top managers."

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