June 9, 2023


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Naive focus on open access is destroying scholarly publishing

Discussion ● Bretthauer and Hem

It takes courageous, open debate and self-examination, write Bretthauer and Hem, to turn a development that has inadvertently led to scholarly publishing into a serious impediment.

Positively, the recent parliamentary report on the need for expertise in Norway heralds changes in the purpose and content of this channel with a focus on researchers’ “largely private needs,” write Bretthauer and Hem.

This text is a discussion post. The content of the text expresses the opinion of the author.

In 2015 he warned We are against the non-monetary entry of open access research articles. So we got the hat to fit. Research Council I thought we were outdated President of the University of UiO compare us
With opponents of the art of printing in the XV century.

Norway wanted it To be a pioneer in open access to science. Plan S, launched in 2018, means that all research articles must be published with this access. We realized it was politically incorrect to suggest a broader discussion of the pros and cons. Norway was supposed to be best in class, and soon the Council for Research and Universities gave strict orders.

Let’s Begin With what we agree: open access to research results and knowledge is an unconditional good. But no medal has only one side. Publishing research articles is expensive. Highly qualified editors are a prerequisite for turning good studies into quality scholarly publications. It costs money. Betting everything on a single publishing model is naive.

Open the post

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The explanation is clearThe “open access” business model provides unfortunate financial incentives. We feared that open access journals would reduce quality requirements and publish as much as possible and that publishers would start more journals with inadequate quality controls. That’s how it went too. The arithmetic is simple: it gives the most money in the treasury.

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Results? there magazines more than ever. Research funding and the number of researchers have not increased by the same amount. It has become easier to publish research. There is always a magazine that publishes what you do. Does it matter? Yes, the magazines’ important counter to quality assurance is under severe pressure from the profit-boosting motive of the publishers’ owners. And what should people believe? When no one takes responsibility for separating the filth from the cinnamon, scientific publishing becomes messy.

The finish is ready. Instead, the old publishers, who wanted to be punished, increased their profits. New commercial actors began publishing with only one purpose: to make the most of the absurd market created by the open-access system and where researchers publish papers for a modest fee.

What’s called
Mega magazines Huge amounts of research articles are now being published. They can publish 15,000 articles a year or more. Special editions are especially popular with guest editors who work for free or cheaply while publishers make big money. The idea of ​​the business is to pump out research articles after checks of questionable quality on the assembly line.

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large business associations Naturally understand what is a profitable field of business. Pressure is mounting on authoritative journals that attempt to adhere to comprehensive quality checks and high-quality editorial work. Large journals operate with small staff, in countries that are low-cost and not very transparent, publishers are not interested in rejecting manuscripts and researchers see short-term gain in publishing research with little effort and which apparently shows great activity.

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one of these The publishers are called MDPI and within a few years they have become one of the world’s largest scientific publishing companies with open access. They publish 5 of the 10 largest mega magazines in the world. MDPI has been in the spotlight for many years, but the business is doing a great job.

Solution? It will Courageous, open debate and self-examination are needed to reverse the course of an evolution that has inadvertently left scholarly publishing in a grave straits.

first scale It may be a nuance in the strict requirements of publishing in open access journals. That means managing less detail and increasing the workspace for researchers working on the front lines, as the government’s trust reform calls for. Experience has shown that the record of scientific publishing channels is not the way out of the publishing crisis. Positively, the recent report to the Norwegian Parliament on the need for expertise in Norway heralds changes in the purpose and content of this channel with the focus on “largely the researchers’ own needs”.

it is Important with commitment from public institutions and the research community. National and international associations can own the journals, political science professor at UiO Tore Wik pointed out in Morgenbladet on April 14. Academic publishers may be more motivated to operate with quality as a primary objective than to maximize earnings and profits, regardless of the publishing model.


The death sentence is issued in magazines