Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Open Access Publishing

Crooked Timber has an interesting discussion about publishing in open access journals, and what it would take to get people to make the switch.

For an even better read, see the old Leiter Reports thread: 'Time to End For-Profit Journals?' As Tim Crane wrote:
In the age of online publication, there is no reason why publishers should make so much money from our work. We don't need publishers in order to have peer-reviewed quality journals. We don't need paper publication for journals. Philosophers' Imprint has shown how you can have an excellent free e-journal which is peer-reviewed, and the Notre Dame Philosophical reviews is now one of the leading places for book reviews. Of course, these projects cost money too -- but it would be a better use of libraries' budgets to administer e-journals which are free for the whole world, than to fill the bank accounts of Springer, Elsevier and the like.

I couldn't agree more. The Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (which I've heard is now also open for discussion notes) also deserves a mention. Are there any other open access philosophy journals of similar (top) quality?

These successes aside, it can be difficult for new journals to become established. So it seems the thing to do would be for the academic community to force the old journals to switch to open access. Cf. Laura Schroeter's comment:
The Springer journals pricing policy is egregiously out of line with even the most expensive philosophy journals. But it's hard to support a boycott of the journal, since Phil Studies is one of the best run philosophy journals in terms of editorial policy, turnaround times, volume and quality of published articles.

The fact that Springer owns the title to Phil Studies puts it in a position of power. But it does seem like philosophers could have some important leverage here. One radical solution would be to arrange to transfer the entire editorial board associated with Philosophical Studies to a university-sponsored online journal called, say, New Philosophical Studies. I don't know if there would any be legal problems with this sort of move. There would certainly be plenty of practical difficulties. But it seems clear that such a move would be in the long term interest of the academics who actually use the journal.

What do you think?

Update: more here.


  1. Right, open access by itself won't solve everything. But that's not a 'problem' in the sense of being any reason to prefer closed journals. It just shows that there are other issues we should care about in addition: universal internet access and popularizing philosophy being two of these, I whole-heartedly agree. (Note, however, that journals are for expert discussion of cutting-edge research. I'd wouldn't want to imply that they should be dumbed down in any way. Popularization comes later.)

    The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 80 in philosophy. But most seem obscure and/or foreign. So what I'm especially interested in is whether there are well-respected options (like PI and JESP) that academics might seriously consider sending their best work to.

  2. For a list of journal editorial boards that have "declared independence" by resigning and recreating their journals online, see:

    This list is due to Peter Suber.


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