Subject: Re: Free software and free music have some similar problems.
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 22:20:00 +0200 (MET DST)

From: Rich Morin <>
BTW (Off-off-topic alert), the academic publishing industry is also ripe
for a shake-up, IMHO.  We currently have a situation in which academics
(and even libraries) can't afford to buy the current literature.  In the
meanwhile, few academics make anything from their writing efforts.  I'm
hopeful that peer-reviewed electronic publishing will eventually help
to resolve some of this problem.

  academic publishing industry is quite a different topic from music.
Several differences:

  - music is for pleasure, you do not need to listen to it
   whereas academic litterature is a resource for producing more good
    (though you may still enjoy it)
   Research results are more like software, i.e. production rather
    than consumption ware.

  - researchers and academics do almost all the work, much more than in
    the entertainment business. With the web, publishers are hardly
    needed. The few useful tasks could be bought directly from
    specialists (like copy editing).

  - at least for journal articles (the bulk of the cost for libraries)
    academics do not expect payment... indeed they sometimes have to
    pay a per page fee.

  so there is every reason to bypass the publishers, except for
one social factor. To advance in his career, the academic must publish
in good journals, and those titles are for the moment owned by
the publishers. Publishing in them reinforces their academic importance
at the expense of the academic community.
   It will take some time before new, free, electronic titles
are strong enough to take the place of existing ones.

 But going electrnic will bring other benefits :
- shorter publication delay
- lower cost
- uncoupling of publication and evaluation/selection which can then
  take place after publication (whereas the cost of paper publication
  requires a priori selection)
- more competition between selection committees, and less power
  to established groups.

  Ther are lots of papers on the topic: look for Harnad, Ginsparg, Odlysko


Bernard lang             ,_  /\o    \o/    Tel  +33 (1) 3963 5644  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^  Fax  +33 (1) 3963 5469
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