Scientific Publishing: From vanity to strategy

by Hans E Roosendal, Kasia Zalewska-Kurek, Peter A Th M Geurts and Eberhard R Hilf (Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2010): 174pp, £49.50 (pbk), ISBN 978 1 84334 490 2.

Reviewed by Katherine Thomasset

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This book is an examination of the scientific publishing industry, and takes a look at the opportunities and pressures that currently affect it. Between them, the authors have a wealth of experience both in the publishing industry and in the management and use of digital publication and archiving services, as well as in management theory.

Theoretical

Parts of the book take a largely theoretical approach to analysing what should constitute a good business model for the scientific publishing industry, and would mainly be of interest to those working in managerial positions in publishing. They are perhaps less relevant to those of us involved directly in the editing of scientific documents.

However, I was interested to read an analysis of the gradual change to open-access models of publication, in which information is provided freely over the internet, including unreviewed documents placed on authors' websites or in university repositories. At present, open-access publication only has around 15% market penetration, largely because it often lacks the added value provided by the peer review process. In addition, authors will receive more credit for their work if they publish in good quality, peer-reviewed (and presumably well-edited!) journals.

Alternative scenarios

The authors also consider a number of alternative publishing scenarios that are beginning to take hold. For example, in the online journal Electronic Transactions on Artificial Intelligence, articles are published prior to review; referee reports and readers' comments are subsequently published alongside them (although no mention is made of when, or whether, the papers are edited or proofread).

The overall conclusion is that the scientific publishing industry will need to move away from the traditional subscription model and the older open-access model to find new ways of structuring itself, involving broad networks between academic institutions, libraries, publishing companies and other stakeholders.

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