LINGUIST List 15.2373

Tue Aug 24 2004

Disc: Re: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <foxlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Carsten Otto, Re: 15.2354, Disc: New: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing
  2. John Kingston, Discussion of electronic publishing
  3. Alexander Kravchenko, Open-Access Journals and Linguistics Publishing

Message 1: Re: 15.2354, Disc: New: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2004 19:04:56 +0200
From: Carsten Otto <Carsten.Ottoltu-touristik.com>
Subject: Re: 15.2354, Disc: New: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

Re: Linguist 15.2354, Linguist 15.2359

I totally agree that this is an issue to be discussed widely and I'd
like to go through your points step by step:

P1: I partially agree. The printed journals will not totally disappear
as "paper" will be considered more reliable than online publications at
least for our (30+) and older generations. So it will probaly have
disappeared but it'll take about a generation or two. (consider this:
you still get almost all music on vinyl records, you still have
bookstores AND online-stores such as amazon, etc.) 

P2: I guess I disagree. Probably people won't go to libraries to get a
copy of a single article but these will be accessed online, i.e. not the
online versions but the full-text will be searched via JASON (journal
articles sent on demand), or similar library-services. 
Anyway as long as there are no online-versions of influential journals
the paper-versions will keep their influence. 

P3: I can easily agree. There will be more and more free accessible
online journals though I don't know about their acceptance (see above
P1).

P4: I disagree: there will be probabably more and more free journals
but I don't know about their influence. There will be however - and I am
pretty sure about that - journals that offer online subscriptions and
thus access to their full text versions via the web. Just as the music
industry tries to fight file-sharing with stores such as Apple's popular
iTunes Music Store or others the "big-science-publishers" will offer
web-journals on the same basis.

C1: For sure, maximising access to online journals is indeed in the
interest of science and the scientific community (not to mention
students all over the world and scholars in areas with
not-so-well-equipped libraries) but it is only in the interest of the
"big-science-publishers" if the online-publications aren't a finacial
loss. 

C2: definitely right. 

Guess that's it. But there's one more thing: there's a proverb
here in the area of Cologne: wat nix kos' is' och nix. - roughly
translated: If something is free it is not reliable. We should keep
that in mind when thinking about free online journals:


Cheers and all the best

Carsten Otto
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Message 2: Discussion of electronic publishing

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2004 22:23:13 -0400 (EDT)
From: John Kingston <jkingstonlinguist.umass.edu>
Subject: Discussion of electronic publishing

I am replying to Martin Haspelmath's post as an editor (of Phonetica).
I suspect his predictions will prove true, and I wish only to address
one possible consequence: the breakdown of peer review. Haspelmath
notes (in a parenthesis) that he expects print journals to be replaced
by rigorously peer-reviewed electronic ones. I haven't been an editor
for very long (I'm just completing my 4th year), but that time has
been more than long enough to convince me thoroughly of one thing:
without the generosity and very hard work of all the reviewers of
submissions to journals, we would none of us have any idea what to pay
attention to or what has any value. I am also sure that rigorous peer
review will not happen unless some considerable effort is made to
ensure that it does. That effort might be made by concerned
individuals, institutions, or even publishers, but it won't happen by
itself. Therefore, what I'd very much like to see is discussion of
how this hard problem is to be solved. 
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Message 3: Open-Access Journals and Linguistics Publishing

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2004 21:38:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: Alexander Kravchenko <sashakrisea.ru>
Subject: Open-Access Journals and Linguistics Publishing

I agree with most of what Martin says, but would like to offer some comments.

PREDICTION 1:
''Journal articles will increasingly be accessed electronically''

We should discriminate between two basic modes of electronic access to
articles:

1) Institutional electronic subscriptions that come in one package
with subscriptions to printed journals - there are countries where
universities cannot afford conventional subscriptions, so they don't
get the benefits of electronic access.

2) Open-access on-line publishing. Most of the long-established
scientific journals will be unwilling to provide open access to
articles. How many newly established on-line journals will be needed
to be able to (a) compete with the well-known ''brands'' such as
''Language'', ''Linguistic Inquiry'', etc., and (b) squeeze them out
eventually as the result of such competition?

''Most printed scientific journals will have disappeared in about ten years' time''

It would be a very unfortunate development. Making ourselves hostages
to the fragility of the electronic media used to store knowledge is
similar to building a straw hut in the middle of a smoldering peat
field. Interestingly, there is a catch phrase in Russian coined by a
famous 20th century writer, ''Manuscripts don't burn''.

PREDICTION 2: 

''Journal articles that are not (or not widely) available
electronically will be increasingly less influential''

This is a controversial statement because quantity does not
necessarily imply quality. Electronic availability is undoubtedly a
plus, but a massive spread of a particular idea through an open-access
journal may be fraught with the danger of disregarding alternative
ideas on the part of the reader just because they have not appeared
on-line. Besides, wide electronic availability of a few particular
journals edited by a few respected professionals might result in
unintentional ideological suppression.

PREDICTION 3:

''More and more open-access linguistics journals will be created''

I know a few unsuccessful attempts to launch new electronic journals
which have been rather short-lived just because the editors couldn't
muster enough quality submissions to keep them going.

PREDICTION 4:

''The big science publishers will be tempted to fight against the
open-access publishing trend. (However, this is not such a big issue
in linguistics, because linguistics is a small field)''

Sure, who wouldn't in their place? But the assumption that
''linguistics is a small field'' is true only hic-et-nunc. The impact
of linguistics on other fields of scientific knowledge will grow
throughout the 21st century because, ultimately, all knowledge boils
down to language.

As for the question Martin asks. First, there may be different answers
to this question depending on whether 'we' is used exclusively or
inclusively. In the former case, 'we' may mean either (a) 'we the
linguists of the world' or (b) 'we the western linguists'. If it is
(b), then nobody loses much. If it is (a), then at least some of us
are going to lose an important part of material culture associated
with the printed journals which is of great value as a formative
factor in the development and maturation of a scientist.

Second, and more important. Abandoning the traditional journals would
mean abandoning the relative autonomy (in the physical and technical
sense) of research activity: I still can come up with interesting
linguistic ideas even if I'm computer illiterate -- not because I hate
computers, but because I can't afford to have one or there are none
available. As a foolproof measure, science needs ''redundancy'' in
ways of storing and disseminating knowledge or it might put itself in
jeopardy. So, ''Hurray!'' to open-access journals, and ''Long live the
printed journals!''

Alex Kravchenko
Language Center
Baikal University of Economics and Law
Irkutsk
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