[Lingtyp] papercopy LT -- from a "pre-war" country

Sebastian Nordhoff sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de
Wed Jul 5 19:02:28 UTC 2017

> Publishers take over a lot of the tedious administrative and technical work that most academics would not like to do, or feel they really don’t have the time for. Now, due to the internet, part of that that work, namely the printing and distribution of the printed product, has become obsolete, making it easier for the academic community to take publication back into their own hands. But astonishingly, although this possibility has already existed for 20+ years, the advance is very slow, most of the existent online journals have not managed to build a reputation like the publisher-based ones, and the question is why. From a practical perspective I think it’s mainly two things, namely (1) even if the printing and distribution process is removed, there is still a lot of tedious work left that most folks would probably not like to spend their time on, and (2) sustainability. A journal, in order to build a reputation, should be reliably around for 10 or 20 years at least. This is difficult if its publication is not institutionalized but tied to the good will of individuals.

Heiko raises some very important points. I will treat them in reverse
order, first (2), then (1).
Many Open Access projects start out with a lot of idealism, but
eventually come to realize that the project relies on self-exploitation,
which is not sustainable.

The Journal of Language Contact, for instance, started as OA but
eventually moved to Brill because the funders did no longer have the
resources to run it.

I recommend the following discussion of "Principles for open scholarly
infrastructures", which includes recommendations for sustainability:


Financial sustainability is a key element of creating trust. “Trust”
often elides multiple elements: intentions, resources and checks and
balances. An organisation that is both well meaning and has the right
expertise will still not be trusted if it does not have sustainable
resources to execute its mission. How do we ensure that an organisation
has the resources to meet its obligations?

*    Time-limited funds are used only for time-limited activities – day
to day operations should be supported by day to day sustainable revenue
sources. Grant dependency for funding operations makes them fragile and
more easily distracted from building core infrastructure.

*    Goal to generate surplus – organisations which define
sustainability based merely on recovering costs are brittle and
stagnant. It is not enough to merely survive it has to be able to adapt
and change. To weather economic, social and technological volatility,
they need financial resources beyond immediate operating costs.

*    Goal to create contingency fund to support operations for 12 months
– a high priority should be generating a contingency fund that can
support a complete, orderly wind down (12 months in most cases). This
fund should be separate from those allocated to covering operating risk
and investment in development.

*    Mission-consistent revenue generation – potential revenue sources
should be considered for consistency with the organisational mission and
not run counter to the aims of the organisation. For instance…

*    Revenue based on services, not data – data related to the running
of the research enterprise should be a community property. Appropriate
revenue sources might include value-added services, consulting, API
Service Level Agreements or membership fees.

> (1) even if the printing and distribution process is removed, there is
still a lot of tedious work left that most folks would probably not like
to spend their time on,

I concur. Phonologists should do phonology, not deal with the finer
details of print ISSNs vs. electronic ISSNs or the different VAT
policies depending on domestic or international shipping. But there is
nothing wrong in having service providers to do that against a fee. This
is division of labour, and it is good.
The important thing is that you do not find yourself in a so called
"vendor-lock-in" position. This is a position where you cannot change
your service provider anymore. If ever that happens, the service
provider can increase the prices as they see fit, and normally they do.

As Martin Haspelmath repeatedly reminds us, brand ownership is such a

LT shipping and billing used to be done by a company called Rhenus
Logistics. Now it is done by another company (I would have to look up
the name). Apparently, Rhenus provided poor service in they eyes of dG.
The changed their logistics provider, no big deal.

There is a flourishing landscape of academic publication service
providers. Ubiquity Press for instance offers different packages so that
phonologists can concentrate on phonology again and do not have to
meddle with the mechanics of publishing.

This is very different from running a home-grown journal in your attic.
Those also exist, but as Heiko notices, they are normally not
sustainable, and one would not want the world-wide distribution of
scientific knowledge to depend on them.

Finally, I also believe that in linguistics, we are overcharged a lot
less than in the sciences. Being overcharged threefold is certainly
better than being overcharged tenfold, but I really think of the other
great things that one could do with that money, and that makes me sad.

Best wishes

> So, I believe the bottom line is if who is going to invest his or her time and energy and commit to the often tedious work of publication and how can it be institutionalized? It’s not easy to find people for that because nowadays even people with a secure position may have an immense work load or be under pressure to produce.
> Lastly, Elsevier/Springer may indeed be the ultimate “bad boy” in this business. They made headlines in Japan last year when it was found out that Elsevier/Springer charged outrageously higher fees to Japanese universities for their package than European universities. (I think it was at least 50% more.) Probably they didn’t reckon that Japanese universities have more money, which is not the case, but rightly surmised that their Japanese counterparts at least initially would not be able to obtain the relevant information and would be more subservient than European counterparts. On the other hand, I think it’s not right to vilify linguistic publishers in general. I don’t know much about the philosophy and the mechanisms at Mouton and Benjamins, the two publishers probably closest to linguistics. It may not be so much different from Elsevier/Springer, or it actually may be. Those in charge of linguistics at these publishers, whose livelihood basically depends on these publications, are often very decent people. Think of John Davey, about whom we could read a lot recently. So, no matter in what direction the community decides to move from here, I think an entirely negative view of the publishers and the people working there is not warranted. On the contrary, there are quite some things in the past for which we can be grateful.
> Cheers,
> Heiko
> From: Lingtyp [mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] On Behalf Of Martin Haspelmath
> Sent: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 4:36 AM
> To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] papercopy LT
> On 04.07.17 19:36, Wu Jianming wrote:
> Dear colleagues,
>   ...
>       I am wondering whether there is another way to spread good  ideas freely and efficiently, which, nontheless, is equally recognized by the authority, just like journals.
> Good ideas (or bad ideas) can be published easily these days (e.g. you can easily upload your paper to Academia or Zenodo<https://www.frank-m-richter.de/freescienceblog/2017/02/24/what-should-what-do-i-do-with-my-draft-paper-hide-it-upload-to-academia-or-upload-to-zenodo/>, at no cost), but for professional recognition, one needs a well-organized social mechanism.
> Scholars have not been well-organized in the past: As Stephen Buranyi explains in a fascinating recent Guardian article<https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jun/27/profitable-business-scientific-publishing-bad-for-science>, over decades they left the initiative to commercial companies, who own the titles and who make huge profits (or waste our money because of inefficient organization). If standard business criteria were employed, then publishing a scholarly article would cost between $100 and $500<http://bjoern.brembs.net/2016/12/should-public-institutions-not-be-choosing-the-lowest-responsible-bidder/>, not $5000 as is currently the case.
> So how do we get out of the current predicament? I don't know, but we first need to recognize that we are in a disastrous situation.
> Maybe we could have a typology journal that is published with a model similar to that of Glossa (with optional fees, supported by OLH<https://www.openlibhums.org/journals/>). Maybe we could find a university that gives "tenure<https://www.frank-m-richter.de/freescienceblog/2017/02/21/we-dont-need-open-access-but-scholar-owned-publication-brands/>" to a typology journal, the way most universities give tenure to researchers. Any ALT members out there with connections to librarians who want to secure their future by moving into publishing?
> In any event, using ALT's money for "publication" (in fact, un-publication) behind a paywall is not sustainable in the longer run, so we desperately need new good ideas.
> Best,
> Martin
> --
> Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de<mailto:haspelmath at shh.mpg.de>)
> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
> Kahlaische Strasse 10
> D-07745 Jena
> &
> Leipzig University
> IPF 141199
> Nikolaistrasse 6-10
> D-04109 Leipzig
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