PLoS as a Model
During my trip to CW2006, I found myself reading Wired and Scientific American. Both had articles promoting the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and its various offspring. The Wired article indicated that the PLoS is now more influential in some areas of genetic research than any printed journal. In fact, there have been signs that the printed journals are falling out of favor with science departments for reasons of cost and reputation: too many journals include sponsored research with suspect data.
The PLoS is supported by a $1500 submission fee. This fee covers the cost of three readers, selected by the editors, and the costs of maintaining servers. There was also a MacArthur Foundation grant of $3 million that started the project to cover setup costs and legal research fees.
Will the fields of composition, rhetoric, and writing studies move in this direction? Is there move to challenge the existence of printed, copyrighted journals that charge a fortune for their articles? I love the fact that this $2000/yr journals are suffering thanks to the PLoS. In a way, this is "old capitalism" at its best -- charge too much and people will create an alternative product.
I do not like the idea of publishing (or perishing) within my field. I use blogs, my Web pages, and public forums to distribute my ideas. I am not sure what rights I do have regarding my works written at the universities. They often submit long works to ProQuest or a similar service that promises me "royalties" for access to my works. No thanks.
Let me know if there is a PLoH for the humanities and social sciences. I do not think research was meant to be hoarded by publishers for outrageous fees.
I do think artists should be paid for creative works. I certainly would object to one of my plays being staged with no compensation. I just happen to think the university pays me to conduct research as part of my contract. Why pay me for something that won't be shared? Isn't that our mission?