15.2389, Disc: Re: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

LINGUIST List linguist at linguistlist.org
Thu Aug 26 13:09:26 UTC 2004

LINGUIST List:  Vol-15-2389. Thu Aug 26 2004. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 15.2389, Disc: Re: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

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Date:  Tue, 24 Aug 2004 04:32:45 -0400 (EDT)
From:  Martin Haspelmath <haspelmath at eva.mpg.de>
Subject:  Re: Open-access Journals and Lingustics Publishing

Date:  Wed, 25 Aug 2004 17:10:36 +0200
From:  Ralph Hafner <ralph.hafner at uni-konstanz.de>
Subject:  Re: 15.2359, Disc: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Tue, 24 Aug 2004 04:32:45 -0400 (EDT)
From:  Martin Haspelmath <haspelmath at eva.mpg.de>
Subject:  Re: Open-access Journals and Lingustics Publishing

I think Line Mikkelsen and Karen Ward raised the two most important
points that possibly make people reluctant to submit their work to new
open-access journals:

Line wrote:

> One question that needs to be investigated ... is how
> employers, such as universities and other research
> institutions, evaluate publications in open-access journals
> with respect to promotion and tenure. This is especially
> important I think for junior researchers (such as myself),
> who might steer away from trying to publish
> in non-traditional journals, even if agreeing with all the
> principles behind it, out of fear that a publication in
> open-source journal, however rigorously peer-reviewed, would
> simply not carry the same weight in a promotion or tenure
> review as a publication in a traditional journal.

The issue here is that of prestige (or ''impact factor''). Of course,
well-known journals have more prestige, and this often remains for
many years even when a journal is evidently getting worse or less
influential among specialists. However, prestige is a totally
immaterial factor that is to a large extent under our control. If more
and more prominent linguists submit their work to open-access
journals, these will soon be just as prestigious as the traditional
copyrighted journals (of course one cannot expect untenured scholars
to play a leading role in the shift to open-access publication through
their submissions, though junior linguists may well speed up the shift
by more strongly preferring to read and refer to open-access papers).

Karen Ward wrote:

> ... electronic media are ephemeral compared to paper.  CDs
> that are only 10-15 years old are already degrading.  I
> contrast this with the longevity of acid-free paper:  books
> printed in the 1600s and 1700s are still quite readable, if
> fragile.  Electronic archives would have to be rolled over to
> newer technology every 10 years or so - but who will pay for
> this?

This is a more difficult issue, because it's hard to say what the
costs will be. But why would it be be more expensive overall than
storing paper indefinitely? Keep in mind that paper copies of journals
are currently stored in hundreds of different locations. Wouldn't two
dozen different places in the world be sufficient for electronic

Another point to remember is that journal articles are typically out
of date after 5-20 years (depending on the discipline, and within
linguistics depending on one's theoretical approach), so the problem
is primarily a problem for historians. Clearly not a problem to be
taken lightly, but I'm not sure that I would want to withhold my
current research results from people without access to well-funded
university libraries just to please future historians of linguistics.

Martin Haspelmath

-------------------------------- Message 2 -------------------------------

Date:  Wed, 25 Aug 2004 17:10:36 +0200
From:  Ralph Hafner <ralph.hafner at uni-konstanz.de>
Subject:  Re: 15.2359, Disc: Open-Access Journals/Ling Publishing

I would like to join this discussion from my point of view as subject
specialist for linguistics in an academic library.  In the library of
the University of Constance we are also discussing the prospects of
the open access model, because, over the last years, the rising prices
of some journals have forced us to cancel more and more journal

Our selection of linguistic journals is getting worse every year. And
still, we have to spend more and more money on journal subscriptions
and as a consequence, we can buy fewer linguistic monographs. A few
years ago, the Constance University library was still able to offer
direct access to most of the relevant linguistic literature, both in
articles and monographs.  Sadly, this is not the case any more.

The system of subscription-based access to research results is hindering
rather than helping scientific communication. Therefore, the scientific
community would profit from developing new forms of publication that
provide fast and free access to the research of their colleagues.

Eventually, if nothing changes in the current system of
subscription-based access to research the outcome may be that you will
be able to access only that part of the research which your library
can afford (plus what you order via various document delivery
services, which may be costly).  An open acces publishing system would
be superior in ensuring full access to the research results of the
scientific community.

I strongly believe that this is the way to go.

Some people have expressed their doubts whether the open access model
can be successful. For the humanities there is still pioneering work
to be done, but sufficient experiences have already been gained in the
natural sciences. Biomed central, for example, is already well

Ralph Hafner
Subject Specialist for Slavonic and Romance Studies,
Linguistics, and Media Studies
Library of the University of Constance
D-78457 Konstanz

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