The financial inaccessibility and unread nature of professional journals

The publishing of most professional journals has been taken over by commercial publishing houses and their prices have been cranked up to absolutely impossible heights. It has been calculated that, while publication costs for one article work out at approximately $ 500, libraries around the world pay a total of $ 16°000 for one article (costs estimates in 1999). This sum is comparable with the average costs for the research itself, which correspond to approximately $ 20°000 per published article. The greater part of this sum ends up in the pockets of commercial publishers of professional literature. A few years ago, scientists attempted to rise up against the dictate of commercial publishers and began to massively sign a petition exhorting other scientists to boycott journals that do not publish an electronic version of articles that is freely accessible to the public on the Internet within six months of publishing the printed version. Of course, the boycott was unsuccessful and most authors continued to send their manuscripts to the relevant journals. When someone organizes the next boycott, I would like to suggest a “minor” adjustment – so that the boycott doesn’t hurt the boycotter more than the boycotted, it should not consist in not sending manuscripts to expensive journals that do not publish an electronic version, but in not citing works “published” in these journals. The decrease in the impact factor of the journal will certainly make the publisher see sense very quickly.

And to explain the fact that professional articles do not get read: with the present system of managing science, we don’t read other people’s articles: we have to save time somewhere so that we can write our own articles. The approach proposed by colleague Zrzavý, that we read only articles in which our own name appears (I hope that I understood him correctly and that he didn’t mean articles in which his name appears) so far seems to me to be too radical.

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