Dominik Wujastyk keeps on stimulating the public of the Indology mailing list he founded with references to articles such as this one by George Monbiot. Here is a short quote:
Murdoch pays his journalists and editors, and his companies generate much of the content they use. But the academic publishers get their articles, their peer reviewing (vetting by other researchers) and even much of their editing for free. The material they publish was commissioned and funded not by them but by us, through government research grants and academic stipends. But to see it, we must pay again, and through the nose. […]
What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning.It’s bad enough for academics, it’s worse for the laity.
Personally, I try to upload all my papers (as drafts) on academia.edu and I wrote far more blog posts than articles. However, I need articles on peer-reviewed journals in order to access public funding (the last FIRB programme in Italy expects from a young researcher to have at least 10 or 15 printed publications). Beside that, I am still inclined to think that publishers may do an important job (and one readers alone would not be able to do), insofar as they:
- 1. select articles (distinguishing bona fide scientific ones from ones which could attract readers but are not soundly founded),
- 2. check articles (emend typos, suggest appropriate fonts for "unusual" languages, etc.),
- 3. look for relevant peer-reviewers,
- 4. provide feed-back,
- 5. edit articles (although I must say that in my personal experience all the editorial comments I received came from non-paid guest editors or the like),
- 6. distribute articles.
Would not readers (if left as the only judges) prefer articles on "The Buddha in your every day life" rather than on "Was the Brahmajāla Sutta post-Aśokan?"? Even granting that many articles of the latter type could disappear without anyone noticing it, don't you agree that text-based research is needed, although it might look not as fun as "applied Buddhism" (etc.)? Or can one imagine that scholarly trained readers will automatically select an open access platform where only "scientific" articles are published and ignore the others? If no one is paid to select them, would not readers just select them because of their authors, thus making it almost impossible for a young researcher to be read?
What do you think? Where do you publish?