Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Peers, Review your Actions": OA Advocacy

One of the seven most widely read articles in The Times Higher Education in 2011 is "Peers, Review your Actions" by Michael P. Taylor, University of Bristol. Arguing strongly for universal open access to the results of research, Taylor urges scholars to stop providing their editorial and review work to publishers for free.

. . . . It's a well-rehearsed truth that the government funds research; academics do the work, write the papers and give them to a publisher (often paying the publisher for the privilege); other researchers edit the papers, usually for no fee; other researchers provide peer review gratis; yet somehow the publisher ends up owning the result of the whole process - only to sell copies back to the researchers who did the work and the citizens who funded it.

Everyone knows this system is a historical hangover, but the cycle is hard to break. University libraries have to buy the journals so that their scholars can read them. And because only peer-reviewed articles are respected, scholars feel they have to place their work in the journals in order to advance their careers. . . .

But what's truly mind-boggling is that we also review and edit for these corporations. For free. It's the editorial and review process that gives the crucial stamp of approval to research. But publishers don't provide this: it's one more thing that we give them. We feel obliged to contribute our time, effort and expertise because reviewing is seen as a service to the community. But it's become a service to corporations. . . .

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