I know I’m a lot late, but Happy New Year! I admit that my absence was due to a jolly holiday spent hiking and driving around New Zealand’s South Island. It was the trip of a lifetime, and though I didn’t seek out any specific sites from the Lord of the Rings movies, pretty much the entire country looked like Middle Earth.
Remember my Hot Topics post from December 4th? I mentioned the increasing grumbling over Academia.edu’s business model? Well, they’re at it again. In a spectacular move that looks like it was perpetrated only to stir up a Twitterstorm, one of their reps (Product Director, to be exact), emailed a contributor asking if he would be willing to pay a fee for his papers to be “recommended”. For shame! If you read the Twitter conversation (which I did…for way too many hours…), you’ll see that the rep for academia.edu does a good job of backpedaling and explaining that this was just a question and not a mandate, but the proposal itself is troubling. “Hey, wanna throw us some money so we promote your article and you get more viewers (not necessarily based on merit)?” I may be oversimplifying the issue, but check out the incredulous and vitriolic responses and see what you think.
Speaking of for-profit entities existing in a non-profit world, check out the latest piece from The Atlantic on the ongoing Elsevier discussions. Noam Chomsky’s involved now, so watch out. Before you read the whole thing, I must mention that my eyes nearly melted out of my skull when I read, for some journals, that they’re charging a $2,150 article-processing charge (APC) in order for academics to make their articles available to the public. Did I (and you, just now) read that correctly? It costs more to publish a freely-available paper than to take a round-trip flight to New Zealand during the holiday travel blitz?! So, Elsevier, you’re telling me that publishing a single article in one of our journals requires that much dough? Are you using liquid gold in your printing presses? I apologize; I didn’t realize how fired up I was about this until now. The good news is that a growing body of academics and subscribers are working to raise awareness of this questionable practice, and the hope is to at least reduce these APCs to a more reasonable figure. I think we all understand that sustaining an academic publication with a limited audience requires funding, but when you’re looking at a 35% profit margin per year, I have to wonder why you’re nickel and diming the very people who create the product you sell.
On a lighter note, it’s annual professional organization membership renewal extravaganza time! Do you belong to any professional organizations? Does your library/institution fund your memberships? Do you find these memberships to be beneficial? Or not?
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.