Episode 57 – Fight Club Soap

10 June, 20103 comments

Returning from a post-THATCamp hiatus, podcast regulars Dan, Mills, and Tom are joined by original irregulars Amanda French and Jeff McClurken to discuss the new iPhone, a nascent course management offering from Google, and the launch of Microsoft Office Web Apps. The panel applauds the University of California/California Digital Library in its showdown with Nature Publishing Group over subscription costs and weighs in on students buying and selling course spots on Craigslist. Hat tip to our good friend Bethany Nowviskie for this episode’s inspired title.

Links mentioned on the podcast:
Letter from UC to faculty [.pdf]
Nature Publishing Group responds, via Ars Technica

Running time: 57:41
Download the .mp3

Categorized under Apple, course management systems, Google, iPhone, journals, libraries, Microsoft, publishing

3 comments to “Episode 57 – Fight Club Soap”

  1. Peter Hirtle : 14th June, 2010

    Thanks for your early perspectives on the Nature Publishing Group issue – and for including their response on your web site. CDL’s response is at http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/UC_Response_to_Nature_Publishing_Group.pdf. Two questions, though:

    1. It appears that CDL has been getting a substantial subscription discount for years CDL’s response says that every other school has been paying too much, and that is not their problem. What do you think about this “used car pricing” approach to scholarly subscriptions – i.e., that the price you pay is based on how good a negotiator your school is?

    2. You talked about how younger scholars will want their work to be open access, but the recent report from the Center for Studies in Higher Education on faculty value and needs in scholarly communications (found at http://escholarship.org/uc/cshe_fsc stressed that history faculty, and in particular younger faculty, were not willing to publish outside of traditional venues for fear that it would hurt their tenure chances. And the recent National Humanities Alliance’s report on Humanities & Social Science journals (at http://www.nhalliance.org/news/humanities-social-science-scholarly-journal-publis.shtml) discovered that the average cost per article in the journals surveyed ranged from $3,000 to $21,000+. It is unlikely that historians will be willing to pay those costs in an author-pays model of open access. Does that mean that you are willing to give up the editorial and other services that publishers provide? Is the author’s final version of an article just as useful as the final version published in a journal?

    Perhaps in a future episode you can build on Dan Cohen’s very thoughtful recent blog postings and discuss open access in the humanities.

  2. Tom Scheinfeldt : 14th June, 2010

    Thanks, Peter, for your excellent comment. I like the metaphor of “used car pricing,” which is just one of the things that makes it difficult to know where the truth lies in these conversations. I agree that historians would be unwilling to pay $21,000 to publish their work, but I also don’t understand why on earth it should cost $21,000 to publish a history article when the writing, peer review, and much of the editorial work is done by volunteer labor and when distribution online is essentially free. Trying to quantify things is admittedly ridiculous, but let’s say the author’s final version is 5% or 10% less useful than the final, published version. Is that last 5% or 10% really worth the $3K – $21K the publishers say it is? Finally, completely aside from these questions of how much adequate editing and peer review costs, one also has to admit that journal publishers (especially in the sciences) aren’t just covering costs. They’re making huge profits at a time when the rest of the academic establishment is facing huge shortfalls.

  3. Jeffrey W. McClurken » Welcome! : 16th June, 2010

    […] Digital Campus — I’m an occasional guest (an “Irregular”) on this podcast about digital technology and its impact on campus life. (See episodes 44, 53, and 57) […]

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