Sunday, May 02, 2010

Opportunity Lost

I received the following unfortunate announcement in my inbox today:
Following nearly fifty years of self-publication, The Southern Journal of Philosophy now appears under the imprint of its new publisher, Wiley-Blackwell. Through increased exposure and assorted logistical and cosmetic updates, the partnership with Wiley-Blackwell promises to broaden the appeal and deepen the impact of the work published in the SJP.
This seems like a move in precisely the wrong direction! I don't have anything personal or professional invested in SJP (I've read a couple of good articles originally printed there, I think), but going from self-publication to a major publishing house is terrible news (whatever one things of Wiley-Blackwell compared to other such publishers). This is a time when the field really needs high-quality, open access journals. It is a time when whole electronic systems for manuscript submission and review can be got cheaply, if not free via open source software. It is a time when online publication is free and easy, and print-on-demand publishing can be had at a reasonable price if a paper copy of the journal is a must. And, as ever, all of the substantive intellectual labor of review and editing is done more or less pro bono by the editorial staff and volunteer referees, and perhaps a couple of meagerly-rewarded graduate students.

So it's really unfortunate in this situation that SJP is going in the direction of more traditional publishing. What a lost opportunity.


KB said...

I wonder if we're going to see this increasingly--the middle collapsing, which is the traditional academic journal publication format. So you'll have wacky experimental web journals on the one hand (put scare quotes around "wacky experimental") and then journals with commercial publishing houses.

Matthew J. Brown said...

That would be unfortunate!

There is one really excellent, open access, web only philosophy journal, Philosopher's Imprint. It doesn't have a high volume and publishes articles individually and irregularly, but the essays tend to be very good, so far as I've seen, and it has a pretty good reputation.

Shane said...

Over at Education and Culture, there are rumblings about making book reviews open-access. As the new book review editor, I'm pushing for this too. It's especially helpful for authors who are on the job market, since they can easily send the link to a prospective employer and, voila, a writing sample appears! I agree, Matt, Philosopher's Imprint has some high quality articles. Philosophical Frontiers is also a good on-line journal, but they recently changed their format from open-access to pay-to-access each journal article...not sure why, since I can't imagine anyone paying what they charge for an article (and I say this with some humility, since they published one of my papers). Sometimes I think the resistance to open-access is a generational thing...personally, I'd rather save my office/shelf space for more important things than rows and rows of journals.