[INDOLOGY] New Publication on Logical Thought in India

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Tue Feb 14 18:56:10 UTC 2023

Dear colleagues,

I sit on one of the committees of the Coalition Publica
<https://www.coalition-publi.ca/>, a Canadian organization that promotes
Open Access publication. (The journal I edit, HSSA <http://hssa-journal.org>,
receives support and funding through Coalitiona Publica and is archived and
re-hosted at Érudit.org <http://erudit.org>.)  In our meeting yesterday, we
talked a lot about the obligatory introduction of Plan S
<https://www.coalition-s.org/>in Canada, and some of the difficulties and
worries that this has created for some formerly commercial journals who are
having to "flip" their funding and editing models in a relatively short
period.  Amongst many interesting points raised was that when the
membership of one of Canada's prominent academic societies was asked to
vote on whether their journal should go OA and whether it should continue
in print, there was a clear majority for OA and digital-only.

There's a great deal of serious academic literature and reflection on all
these issues - as well as the legal literature kindly highlighted by
Antonio Ferreira-Jardim.  To get on top of it would mean giving up Indology
:-)  Perhaps I could point to just one article that seems particularly
interesting, though it's already eight years old.

Larivière, V., Haustein, S. and Mongeon, P. (2015) “The Oligopoly of
Academic Publishers in the Digital Era,” PLOS ONE. Public Library of
Science (PLoS) 10. Available at:

The abstract says,

The consolidation of the scientific publishing industry has been the topic
of much debate within and outside the scientific community, especially in
relation to major publishers’ high profit margins. However, the share of
scientific output published in the journals of these major publishers, as
well as its evolution over time and across various disciplines, has not yet
been analyzed. This paper provides such analysis, based on 45 million
documents indexed in the Web of Science over the period 1973-2013. It shows
that in both natural and medical sciences (NMS) and social sciences and
humanities (SSH), Reed-Elsevier, Wiley Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor &
Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the
advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific
publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013.
Disciplines of the social sciences have the highest level of concentration
(70% of papers from the top five publishers), while the humanities have
remained relatively independent (20% from top five publishers). NMS
disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their
scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics. The
paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big
publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation
impact. It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly

The big picture is that from the 1970s to 2013, a small group of commercial
publishers had succeeded in gaining control of most academic publishing.

However, amongst the interesting points made is that the behaviour of
publishing in the Humanities is significantly different from the situation
in the Social Sciences and STEM.  This paragraph from p. 7:

On the other hand, papers in arts and humanities are still largely
dispersed amongst many
smaller publishers, with the top five commercial publishers only accounting
for 20% of human-
ities papers and 10% of arts papers in 2013, despite a small increase since
the second half of the
1990s. The relatively low cost of journals in those disciplines—a
consequence of their lower
publication density—might explain the lower share of the major commercial
publishers. Also,
the transition from print to electronic—a strong argument for journals to
convert to commer-
cial publishers—has happened at a much slower pace in those disciplines as
the use for recent
scientific information is less pressing [28]. Moreover, these disciplines
make a much more im-
portant use of books [9] and generally rely on local journals [29], all of
which are factors that
make it much less interesting for big publishers to buy journals or found
new ones in the arts
and humanities.

(I disagree with the assertion that the transition from print to electronic
is "a strong argument for journals to convert to commercial publishers."
The opposite seems true to me, especially today.  Perhaps this is a change
since 2013, with the growing maturity and popularity of OJS
<https://pkp.sfu.ca/software/ojs/> and the work of the DOAJ.)  It looks as
if our own fields have escaped the worst of the recent changes.

What all this means is that although OA is growing, there's still a long
way to go and the publishers' Oligopoly is still very powerful.  This can
change if members of learned societies express their wishes to the leaders
of these societies and their journals, and if founders of new journals take
OA seriously as an important goal for the distribution of learning and
discovery across all academic communities worldwide.  Another vital
component of change is for governments and major funding bodies to insist
that the results of the research they pay for is published OA.  That's Plan

Finally, it's also worth noting the effect of Article Processing Fees.
Often, OA as implemented by the publishers' Oligopoly is coupled with the
requirement for APFs.  Without OA, colleagues in India cannot not afford to
buy and read many books and journals.  But in the old pre-OA model, they
could publish, because article-acceptance was on merit, with no fees.  When
APFs are introduced into the business model, colleagues in the developing
world can read OA publications freely, but they can often not afford to
publish.  It's a choice of being blind, or mute.   The equitable situation
is to have OA without APFs, i.e., for journals to find their funding from
sources other than their authors.

Best wishes,
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