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Weekly News Digest

January 12, 2021 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITI’s Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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'The Changing Logics of Scientific Publishing' by Koen Frenken

Koen Frenken, full professor in innovation studies, writes the following for Leiden Madtrics, the official blog of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University:

With the advent of online publishing in the 2000s, the cost structure of scientific publishing changed drastically. Now, printing and distribution costs have become very low. This has not only lowered the entry cost of new publishers, but it also lifted the natural restriction on the number of papers per issue which provided a strong rationale for gate-keeping by legacy journals. At the same time, several repositories became available on the Internet with published papers and pre-prints, making these accessible to readers without subscription. Partly due to this, the subscription model is now slowly substituted by the open access model, often with author processing charges.

In this turbulent context, many new journals have been introduced, both by incumbent publishers and new entrants. Some of these journals are considered predatory by one part of the academic community, pointing to high volumes of papers, low review standards and misleading soliciting. Indeed, as revenues of such journals rely solely on article processing charges, they may be tempted to follow a market logic of quantity over the professional logic of quality. Another part welcomes the many new open-access journals as it provides more opportunities for scholars in less-favored, peripheral positions as well as for new topics that are less readily accepted in other journals. What is more, the fast turn-around of papers helps the quick diffusion of results and insights, while their relatively low article processing charges promote inclusiveness.

In this light, labeling particular journals as predatory assumes a binary world of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. An alternative view is to acknowledge that there is a large ‘grey area’ of journals whose practices can be questioned, if only because most journals show little transparency about peer reviews, editorial policies and accept/reject decisions anyway.

For more information, read the article.

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli

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