Stephen Few few wrote a post on how insane academic publishing is. If you publish academic papers, his post is worth your time. Don’t miss the comments!
Stephen is not in academia. From his point of view, what is required of him makes no sense:
- While he does not expect to get paid for publishing a paper, he expects some kind of symbolic reward like a few subscription to the journal: Is there really any question that someone who takes the time to write an article and go through the lengthy process of working with a publisher, deserves a gesture of thanks equaling the cost of postage?
- Stephen is surprised that reviewers remain anonymous through the entire process: Cloaking the process in anonymity seemed to indicate a level of discomfort with critique that I didn’t expect to find to this degree in academia.
- He is upset with how IEEE handles copyright:”I have worked with several publishers and I have never had to give up my rights as author. Most modern publishers know that they don’t need to strip authors of their rights in order to do their job.“
My own answers:
- Anonymous review is just a system we refuse to question. Speaking your mind is certainly a dangerous thing—more so in some countries than others. However, I believe a scholar should have the backbone to speak out in the open. Do something else with your life if you are afraid to sign your opinion pieces.
- The copyright issue is a shame. However, Stephen should also ask why so many employers ask for non-compete clauses. He should also ask why musicians sign away their soul routinely. I have always been puzzled at how easily TV series are killed: clearly the authors lose their copyright along the way. Fortunately, scholars are pretty bad at reading the contracts they sign…