Tuesday, August 17, 2004

1. Twins 2. Scientific publishing

1. Two of a kind
This week's offering comes from the twins festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. I also took the cute picture of the sulky twins.

Second part is here (registration required).

2. Access all areas
The previous week I wrote a piece about scientific publishing

I've had a few letters about this article, most of them remarking that it was an omission not to mention all the wonderful work that many society publishers do on behalf of science using the profits they make from publishing academic journals. Although I recommended one of the shorter letters for publication, I don't think that not fretting about society publishers was a particulary terrible omission.

The article is about the so-called "serials crisis" in universities--in other words, that academic journals are becoming unaffordable. It is also about how governments are starting to wonder why the results of research are not available freely to all. What got a few letter writers upset was that I didn't delve into the benefits that science gets from the society publishers -- these are journal publishers that make money from university libraries but spend their profits on science.

My feeling is that the issue of what society publishers do is irrelevant to the question of affordability to university libraries--who have to pay for the journals. Certainly, they may suffer under a new model of publishing but so will commercial publishers. The problem is not that anyone is making a profit from publishing journals--this is actually a good thing. But that the way the market works is that some people are able to make far too much.