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Usual boilerplate: "Apologies for coss-posting"
==

I'm wondering whether *de facto*, or even actively promoted,
contractions of the journal markets can provide a rich data set to assess
whether users really need so many journals, or at least so many articles.

I have in mind carefully selected and limited areas of physics journal
publishing, for the reason suggesed below.

The goal would be twofold: to assess reader perceptions of the
contraction's impact, as well as potential impact on tenure and promotion
assessments. Two questions here. Do readers think they need so many peer
reviewed articles? How integral are peer-reviewed articles to the t and p
process?

Survey data or anthropological type studies would be the best means of
assessing these impacts because, after all, it is really a matter of
getting a sense of *perceptions* of the impact, in turn to assess whether
at least some faculty, especially those with a lot of influence in their
disciplines, would be willing agents to promote contraction. (That seems
idealistic, of course, but on the other hand do not underestimate the level
of faculty and graduate student interest in scholarly publishing, if
anecdotal evidence suggests anything.)

Wholly aside from actively contracting the markets, there are  "natural
experiments" already unfolding that should be exploited for survey
research, notably cases in which consortia have declined to resubscribe
large packages of journals, or lapse periods in which negotiations for
resubscription were dragging on for a long time.

In my opinion, efforts to contract the journal space (with something like
Bradford's law as providing one more rationale) may prove more promising
than other approaches to reforming scholarly publishing. First, it
addresses the problem of *glut* in peer reviewed journal publishing, which
burdens researchers with expectations to be peer reviewers and also makes
it extremely difficult for young scientists to navigate the literature. The
amount of stuff now being published is downright ridiculous. Second, it
addresses the demand side with respect to pricing: lower demand, lower
pricing. Third, it seems marginally more promising than all the focus on
public funding of APCs, which arguably replicates the price dynamics of
toll access publishing.

The foremost question (from my perspective) is to test whether preprints
and other forms of OA publication now serve to some extent as substitutes
for peer-reviewed journals. An economist would say, "economic substitutes".
Apparently they already do so for physics. Or much better yet:  *could*
even more serve as substitutes, after the preprint space (or say OA
conference proceedings) is enhanced and developed further.

The approach above is the proper domain of big consortia. They might argue
that it is not their task to reform publishing, as this tampers with the
scholarly ecosystem of their user populations. I don't find that argument
convincing, given the immense efforts of library consortia (and the entire
library profession) to impress on faculty the value of open access
publishing. I'm not saying that the latter is "tampering" with the "proper"
domain of faculty, just that there should be consistency in the
self-understanding consortia have about their acceptable or appropriate
aims. It is important to remember that scholarly reform is not limited to
open access efforts; the whole system is far more complicated than that.

Again, the subject domains for this type of study, which would require a
huge amount of work to get right (probably good to get econometricians
involved), should be narrowly focused on subject domains in which preprints
etc. already have a very robust foothold.

In sum, one gets the sense that there is, already, a large amount of survey
data that could be collected in the current environment, survey data that
can be used to drive efforts to contract peer reviewed journal published in
limited*domains.The current focus on APCs encounters so many challenges
that, minimally, other approaches should be tried.

Side note: obviously, the question arises whether huge growth in the
preprint space won't make it difficult to navigate the literature? I'm not
convinced of this, provided that a larger proportion of the physics (say)
literature is devoted to review articles that synthesize the psreprint
literature.

I may take up more discussion of the issue of the *mechanism* for
contraction the next iteration of my preprint about physics preprints; will
see if time permits. And of course, it is entirely unknown whether
preprints will have the sway in other fields that the already do in
physics, a la arXiv.

Finally, one can't harbor any illusions that reform of scholarly publishing
is not a decades long project.

[above does not represent views of my employer]

-- 

Brian Simboli
Science, Mathematics, and Psychology Librarian
Library and Technology Services
E.W. Fairchild Martindale
Lehigh University
8A East Packer Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18015-3170
(610) 758-5003; [log in to unmask]
Profile & Research guides
<http://libraryguides.lehigh.edu/prf.php?account_id=13461>



-- 

Brian Simboli
Science, Mathematics, and Psychology Librarian
Library and Technology Services
E.W. Fairchild Martindale
Lehigh University
8A East Packer Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18015-3170
(610) 758-5003; [log in to unmask]
Profile & Research guides
<http://libraryguides.lehigh.edu/prf.php?account_id=13461>



-- 

Brian Simboli
Science, Mathematics, and Psychology Librarian
Library and Technology Services
E.W. Fairchild Martindale
Lehigh University
8A East Packer Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18015-3170
(610) 758-5003; [log in to unmask]
Profile & Research guides
<http://libraryguides.lehigh.edu/prf.php?account_id=13461>

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