wait, why are we paying for this twice?

To promote an item Gabriel left in a comment to its own post: Princeton University has apparently approved a policy that prevents faculty from being able to sign away all their copyright privileges, or at least to require a special waiver otherwise. At particular issue is the ability of journals to demand that authors sign away rights to circulate work on their own webpages or to deposit it in online archives.

The robot dialogue I linked to before points to the issue where journal authors receive nothing from publishers for their articles, who in some cases make a good deal of money. (In the case of journals that are run by non-profit associations, like some major sociology outlets, the profit goes to the association, or the association plus whatever for-profit partnerships they have forged.) But, of course, it’s often not the case that this means the author gets “nothing” compensation-wise for their article. Rather, the article provides a basis toward getting a university job, obtaining a lifetime employment arrangement from that university, and getting raises from that university. So universities are paying people to publish their research in journals. And, especially with the steady evaporation of individual journal subscriptions, where does the revenue for journals primarily come from? Again, universities.

With electronic publishing, it seems like perhaps universities are beginning to get a little suspicious of this arrangement.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

3 thoughts on “wait, why are we paying for this twice?”

  1. It seems like some kind of counter-strongarm is the only way out. Universities that refuse to let faculty published in gated journals will then, presumably, not require publication in such journals for tenure. That’s the key to busting up the monopolies.


  2. Do others make this an active consideration in where they send their materials? I feel like there is not that large of a marketplace for our writing that we can forego too many journals on this basis.

    I agree that this should be a battle of institutions. It feels odd that it is only beginning now. Why are the universities so slow to respond? It’s not like they have so much library money to throw around.


  3. to Tina, I think authors are generally unaware of the copyright issues until after an article is accepted. And may sign the copyright form without even thinking about its implications. Not to mention the large number who distribute their own articles as if they own the copyrights.


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