Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Open Access Interviews: Professor Carlos Brebbia

Professor Carlos Brebbia

Scholarly publishing finds itself at a difficult transitional stage today. In response, some publishers have decided to behave badly — as evidenced by the actions of publisher lobbying organisations like PRISM.

But as Alma Swan recently pointed out to me, most of this bad behaviour emanates from a small group of four or five large publishers, "not the hundreds and hundreds of publishers out there, most of whom are starting to understand that Open Access is the way of the future."

The problem for these other publishers, however, is that the behaviour of PRISM — along with the questionable activities of organisations like the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and the apparent greed of not-for-profit organisations like the American Chemical Society (ACS) — is tarring all publishers with the same brush, and making researchers understandably suspicious of anyone calling themselves a publisher.

This was demonstrated for me recently when I was passed an e-mail sent to a researcher by Carlos Brebbia, the director of a small academic publishing company called WIT Press, which produces two journals.

In line with WIT's new Open Access policy, the e-mail asked the researcher to pay a €50 per-page publication fee. Brebbia added, "I have checked our records and your institution has not yet subscribed. Will it be possible to request them to do so? It is cheaper to pay the subscription of €450/$550 rather than the €50 per page."

The e-mail was passed to me as evidence that WIT Press was behaving badly and, in the process, giving Open Access a bad name. So I contacted Brebbia and asked him about his journal publishing activities, and how he is adapting to a world in which, as he himself puts it, "Open Access is a reality."

The interview can be read by clicking the link below. I leave readers to reach their own conclusions.


If you wish to read the interview please click on the link below. I am publishing it under a Creative Commons licence, so you are free to copy and distribute it as you wish, so long as you credit me as the author, do not alter or transform the text, and do not use it for any commercial purpose.

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Gunther Eysenbach MD MPH said...

I've read this interview with interest. I have to say that I find little objectionable in this editor/publisher asking an author whether his institution can subscribe, especially if it ends up to be cheaper for the author. That's my personal opinion.
But if anything, then this case too shows that there is a need for industry self-regulation (much as in other industries), i.e. some sort of Association of OA Publishers - for profit or non-profit - who sets standards and codes of conducts [1].

1. Eysenbach, Gunther. Black sheep among Open Access Journals and Publishers (see comments). Gunther Eysenbach Random Research Rants Blog. 2008-03-08.
http://gunther-eysenbach.blogspot.com/2008/03/black-sheep-among-open-access-journals.html. Accessed: 2008-03-10. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5WEKJ714T)

Richard Poynder said...

Thank you for your comment. As I pointed out on your blog, I do not believe that scholarly publishers can be trusted to self-regulate. Were they capable of doing so the research community would not have been so blighted by the serials crisis for all these years.

The problem is compounded by the nature of the scholarly communications market, which appears not to be susceptible to traditional market forces. And it is not clear to me that (in the short-term at least) OA publishing will change the nature of that market in any fundamental way -- since peer review remains a bottleneck.

For that reason, I believe what is needed is an organisation with a wider mandate, and one that represents the interests of all those within the OA community. An Open Access Foundation perhaps?

So while I would support the formation of an Association of OA Publishers, I am sceptical that it would be enough.

Anonymous said...

I found much interest reading this interview. Actually, I submit a paper to one WIT press journal and was surprised to be ask for publication charges (now 70 euro per page) or suscription by my institution for an annual charge of 740 euro! Looking at the WIT website, I was even more surprised to found that this company organized more than 25 conferences in 2013, all over the world!
Would you say that WIT Press is a reliable and serious science publisher?

Herve Thebault, France