Why do tenured professors still publish in pay-walled venues?

+13 votes
595 views
asked Aug 4, 2015 in Open Science by Franck Dernoncourt (540 points)

I wonder why tenured professors still publish in pay-walled venues. I can understand that non-tenured professors are publication pressured, but once one gets tenured, why should one still place knowledge behind walls?



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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Franck Dernoncourt (540 points)
Re-posted on http://academia.stackexchange.com/q/51730/452

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4 Answers

+12 votes
answered Aug 4, 2015 by Daniel Standage (420 points)

Many high-impact journals introduced a paywall to recover new costs when they began offering articles in electronic form in addition to the traditional print publications. Despite the growing consensus in the science community that journal impact factor (JIF) correlates poorly with the actual "impact" or quality of individual research articles1, having Science/Nature/Cell publications can make a huge difference in one's career development2. This doesn't stop at tenure either: the ability to get grants, acceptance into prestigious scientific societies, and so on depend on the impact of one's research.


1Just because you publish your paper in Science or Nature doesn't mean it's a good paper (due to variation in the review process, politics, etc). That said, a lot of really good science done by great scientists does get published in high-impact journals, and these journals by far have the widest readership.

2Academic science is very competitive, usually with tens or hundreds of applicants for each new professorship position. When there is no possible way to critically assess the quality and impact of every single publication of every single applicant, the journal in which it was published is a commonly (ab)used heuristic.



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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Franck Dernoncourt (540 points)
I moved the question to http://academia.stackexchange.com/q/51730/452 as the open science is going to close Friday, feel to repost your answer there.

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Franck Dernoncourt (540 points)
Unfortunately upvoted.

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Gavin Simpson (720 points)
@FranckDernoncourt Second, again unfortunately.

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Guido Jorg (90 points)
Third, also unfortunately.

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Daniel Mietchen (1,145 points)
Un-four-tunately.

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+3 votes
answered Aug 4, 2015 by Guido Jorg (90 points)

I wrote an answer to another question that also answers this question I suggest.

Hebb wrote, not all issues are psychological, but most are. In the case of researchers with tenure the question seems more difficult to answer than for individuals without tenure.

Many tenured individuals falsely think: open, therefore free, therefore worthless. Too many imagine they lose face in front of colleagues who publish in journals that are not open ... (For the apparently valid reason that because if somebody pays to read an article it means they value it more and it has more value ...) Yes I've heard this argument quite a few times where I least expect it.

The problem is that the argument isn't applicable here. Most paywalled journals are read because a university subscribes to them. The target readers don't usually pay for them. Furthermore in science value is not judged by willingness to pay anyway.

Indeed, tenured colleagues really have no reason to prefer publications with more prestige. Some would even reply they don't know what that even means. For at that point, articles are looked up and read, as they become aware of their possible utility, not journals. A few, after reaching a certain stable point in their careers, write much more radically in favor of open science (publication and review and other parts of the academic process).

So the reason is often irrational when a tenured writer today (not twenty years ago) sends to a nonopen publication without having a preprint floating around. One can suggest this since the behavior is often contrary the explicit introspective account.

For illustration, my university library subscribes to virtually all journals in any field. But that means they spent the money, not any scientific peers of the authors publishing there. The administrators who allocated the funds don't read the journal, although they did a great favor for us researchers. At another university, this one in Europe, there were very few journals accessible so people cited mostly books or cited a paper citing another paper if they couldn't find the other online for ... Anyway I have not seen anybody paying for anything yet many feel there is something disreputable about open publications. (It's rightly disreputable only if they are thinking about paying to publish with a predatory publisher because useful work is more widely read if arXiv preprinted rather than published obscurely with a publisher that usually outputs rubbish.)



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commented Aug 18, 2015 by HDE 226868 (320 points)
Don't link. Copy, if you must. It would probably be better to properly tailor it to this question.

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Guido Jorg (90 points)
Yes, that would be best. Edit: done.

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Franck Dernoncourt (540 points)
I moved the question to http://academia.stackexchange.com/q/51730/452 as the open science is going to close Friday, feel to repost your answer there.

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+2 votes
answered Aug 4, 2015 by gregcaporaso (20 points)

It's sometimes the case that you don't have a choice. Open access publication can be expensive, and sometimes you're publishing on work where you don't have funding for open access. It also may be important for non-tenured co-authors to have higher impact factor publications, in which case the tenured author might be out-voted on where to submit a paper for publication. (All of that said, I still advocate open access and preprint-posting for all papers from my lab.)



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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Franck Dernoncourt (540 points)
I moved the question to http://academia.stackexchange.com/q/51730/452 as the open science is going to close Friday, feel to repost your answer there.

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Guido Jorg (90 points)
True but there are very many open access journals that don't require post acceptance payments. As least in mathematics but I agree in biology or elsewhere your option is mostly PNAS (for high impact) if you don't want or can't bear the expense.

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+1 vote
answered Aug 4, 2015 by D.Salo (10 points)

Inertia and ignorance. Many researchers have no idea open access exists, or believe it is automatically disreputable, or believe it is always pay-to-play (it's not), or buy into any of a million other myths about it. That major toll-access publishers and other organizations making money from gating access feed the myths obviously doesn't help either.

Appealing to generosity does not work; the typical response is "I have all the access I need, so how is there a problem?"

"I don't have time for that!" is a common response to self-archiving possibilities, particularly from the already-tenured in my experience. Again, toll-access publishers exacerbate this with a wild profusion of confusing, often-changing self-archiving policies.



This post has been migrated from the Open Science private beta at StackExchange (A51.SE)
commented Aug 18, 2015 by Franck Dernoncourt (540 points)
I moved the question to http://academia.stackexchange.com/q/51730/452 as the open science is going to close Friday, feel to repost your answer there.

This post has been migrated from the Open Science private beta at StackExchange (A51.SE)

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