LINGUIST List 15.2359

Mon Aug 23 2004

Disc: Re: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. mikkelse, Re: "Disc: Open-access Journals and Lingustics Publishing"
  2. Eric Bakovic, Re: Open-access Journals and Lingustics Publishing
  3. Karen Ward, Re: 15.2354, Disc: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

Message 1: Re: "Disc: Open-access Journals and Lingustics Publishing"

Date: Sun, 22 Aug 2004 08:36:51 -0700 (PDT)
From: mikkelse <mikkelsesocrates.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: Re: "Disc: Open-access Journals and Lingustics Publishing"

Re: Linguist 15.2354

Thanks to Martin Haspelmath for opening the discussion of open-access
journals in linguistics and the future of linguistics publishing. I
strongly agree that this is an increasingly important topic and one
that should be discussed as widely as possible in the linguistics

Martin Haspelmath asks:

> QUESTION: What would we lose if we gradually abandoned the traditional
> copyrighted journals in favor of (rigorously peer-reviewed)
> open-access journals?

One question that needs to be investigated (in order to answer the one
above) is how employers, such as universities and other research
institutions, evaluate publications in open-access journals with respect
to promotion and tenure. This is especially important I think for junior
researchers (such as myself), who might steer away from trying to publish
in non-traditional journals, even if agreeing with all the principles
behind it, out of fear that a publication in an open-source journal,
however rigorously peer-reviewed, would simply not carry the same weight
in a promotion or tenure review as a publication in a traditional journal.
I wonder if there is any evidence, possibly from other fields, supporting
or speaking against this worry?

Another potential worry is long-term access and maintainence. As
expressed in the mission statement of the open-access journal
"Philosophers' Imprint" (, the
goal of open-access publishing is to "to combine the permanence and
authority of print with the instant and universal accessibility of the
Internet." That journal has solved the permanence issue by
collaborating with the university library at The University of
Michigan, which is the de facto publisher:

	 Each paper is given a fixed, typeset appearance and a
	 stable Universal Resource Locator (URL), to allow for
	 reliable citations. The University of Michigan Digital
	 Library has committed funds to produce the Imprint, to
	 provide it with indexes and a full-text search engine, and
	 to ensure the permanent accessibility of its archives.
			["About" at]

In a world where open-access, on-line journal publishing has replaced
traditional journals (fully or to a significant extent) it seems that the
library funds required to publish an open-access journal mentioned in the
quote would be far less than the ever-rising costs of library
subscriptions to traditional journals. But can we expect libraries to take
on these extra costs right now? I don't have a good sense of library
budgets and I don't know whether the costs associated with open-access
publishing (as outlined in the quote) is peanuts for a reasonably-sized
(university) library or whether it might provide a real barrier for such

Line Mikkelsen
Dept. of Linguistics
University of California, Berkeley
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Message 2: Re: Open-access Journals and Lingustics Publishing

Date: Sun, 22 Aug 2004 13:41:49 -0400 (EDT)
From: Eric Bakovic <>
Subject: Re: Open-access Journals and Lingustics Publishing

Following up on Martin Haspelmath's post (Linguist 15.2354), I'd like
to direct people interested in open access to the following ''web
focus'' of the journal Nature, entitled: ''Access to the literature:
the debate continues''. This URL is:

The following is a summary of the content, from the main page:

''The Internet is profoundly changing how scientists work and
publish. New business models are being tested by publishers, including
open access, in which the author pays and content is free to the
user. This ongoing web focus will explore current trends and future
possibilities. Each week, the website will publish specially
commissioned insights and analysis from leading scientists,
librarians, publishers and other stakeholders, as well as key links,
and articles from our archive. All content is available free.''

I look forward to this discussion.

Eric Bakovic
Linguistics, UCSD 
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Message 3: Re: 15.2354, Disc: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

Date: Sun, 22 Aug 2004 14:35:13 -0600 (MDT)
From: Karen Ward <>
Subject: Re: 15.2354, Disc: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

Martin Haspelmath makes several observations about the accessibility of
electronic and electronically-available publications, and I have no
significant disagreement with nearly all of those observations. 
I, too, would prefer to access publications online, and I agree that
online publication is cheaper and faster than print publication, and I
like to see print publications available electronically as well as on


>CLAIM 2: Archiving electronic publications will not be technically
>more difficult or more expensive than archiving print publications.

This is the problem. I don't believe this claim holds. Electronic
archives depend on media that are constantly evolving in the name of
progress. I already have electronic records (from the mid 1980's) that
are unrecoverable absent some extraordinary effort such as locating a
working version of an obsolete disk drive and an obsolete computer to
read them. In my case, fortunately, the unrecoverable records are mostly
personal email that the world can live without - but what if they were
the major linguistic publications of 1984-1988? 

Worse, electronic media are ephemeral compared to paper. CDs that are
only 10-15 years old are already degrading. I contrast this with the
longevity of acid-free paper: books printed in the 1600s and 1700s are
still quite readable, if fragile. Electronic archives would have to be
rolled over to newer technology every 10 years or so - but who will pay
for this? Who will take responsibility for the monumental task of
constantly locating, copying and re-archiving important publications?
And who will decide what is important enough to warrant saving? As
scientists, we are all aware of cases where the importance of some
idea was not recognized until long after publication. If someone had
to decide only 10 years after publication whether a paper was worth
keeping, how many important papers be lost?

Paper has a place. It is still our best, most durable media. Yes, it
is expensive and slow to distribute, and libraries are sometimes
inconvenient to access. But that very expense and inconvenience buys us
a first hundred years or so to consider a publication's place in the
universe of human ideas. I think there's a value in that. And I'm
willing to help pay for it.

Karen Ward (kward)
Department of Computer Science 
The University of Texas at El Paso (
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