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Volume 3 Issue 7 July 2011

Editor's Desk

Scholarly Publishing at Cross Roads


There is no scholarship without scholarly communication. Hence, scholarly publishing is an integral part of research. There has been a significant increase in the expenditure on research, almost all over the 1. world, but with a clear emphasis on socio-economic returns on the investment Scholarly publishing is one visible indicator of such measures of returns. In fact, journal articles are considered the currency of research. This issue carries an article on precarious issue of pricing journals. In this context, it may be noted that 2 two American economists have given call to boycott expensive journals, as price per page and the price per citation of an average for-profit journal are respectively, five times and fifteen times that of an average non-profit journal. Journalprices.com provides price per article, price per citation, composite price index and relative price index of 7500 scholarly journals. All those journals having relative price index more than two are considered expensive journals. Scholars do not easily and quickly change their reading habit. Any new journal, print or digital, can hardly cut the business of commercial publishers due to captive audience and also the quasi-monopolistic nature of journals. The macro picture of scholarly communication cycle is that taxpayers money is spent on research. Scholars sweat and toil to do research, produce papers, review and edit them. But the irony is that the same scholars have to pay publishers to read their papers. With the advent of e-publishing, some significant changes are evolving in scholarly publishing of journals. The tradition of pre-print circulation which existed only in selected disciplines like physics in pre-digital era, expanded in an exploding way in the digital world with e-print and other open access depositories, The ripples of this OA revolution appears to be well set to advance as alternative publishing model with estimated 6700 peer-reviewed journals currently published in OA domain. Free archives like PubMed Central has encouraged social network with interactive comments, annotations and discussions among research community. It is estimated that a little over two-third publishers permit self-archiving in some form under conditions like delayed archiving. In response to OA movement, publishers are coming out in a big way to start number of OA journals themselves with publishing charges borne by institutions either as author charges or annual assured/ support subscriptions. The issue carries interesting news brief on some OA journals. As a sequel to OA movement, e-repositories of research data itself is also in the early stages so that enormous data generated by public funded research will be freely accessible across the globe. Such data repositories with link to relevant articles in open archives will be of great asset for scholarly research. With these developments taking place, the traditional scholarly communication and publishing are at cross roads. How does scholarly communication as research output correlate with countrys research spending? There is a small write up on this interesting topic covered in this issue. As usual search tips, quiz and other information can be found in this issue. Happy Reading!

M S Sridhar sridhar@informindia.co.in ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1

Expenditure on research has more than tripled over a decade in India and at least doubled elsewhere like NSF.

An open letter to all university presidents and provosts concerning increasingly expensive journals by Theodore Bergstrom and R. Preston McAfee http://www.mcafee.cc/Journal/OpenLetter.pdf