Open access publishing – quo vadis?
In the biomedical and physical sciences the ” open access” journals set has a large market share of publishing. Understanding this phenomena is somewhat difficult as there are many approaches to open access publishing. Over several blog entries I want to share some ideas about this as it is still relatively rare in social science research.
First, we in academia need to understand that most of us live in the world where the university library pays for our access to the vast majority of the published research literature. In other words we live our lives on the other side of the paywall barrier. Indeed, for many of us, the only inconvenience is if we are literature searching from home, we have to sign into our university account first! However, for the non- university based person paywalls are a fact of life, with per article charges of $30 or more!
Open access is based on the premise that knowledge should be readily available to the world, especially if it is created by authors at public universities or at least that research that is based on research funds from government granting agencies. All of the major accounting journals live behind a paywall, where for at least a year, often for a lifetime, those who do not “subscribe” ( I.e. work at a university) cannot access more than the article abstract without paying a fee.
The basic idea of open access is that the cost of publishing should shift from the users (I.e. subscribers) to the producers ( I.e. the researchers). In the next post, the most common open access model.
We do it to ourselves
Just spent time going through the outliers on the submission-review-decision round trip at BRiA. Our overall times are excellent 60-70 days. But I believe that we should be able to get nearly 100% done in 100 days.
So I examined the handful of outliers. The one thing that stood out was reviewers who took much longer than they committed to. Yep, in three cases the editor or I agreed to a longer time to get a “preferred” reviewer. But in the other cases it was all on the reviewers.
So of my outliers three could be attributed to editor choice but 6 were reviewers not delivering – up to three months after the promised date.
So the basic reason for long lags is clear, it is our community. The unfortunate aspect is that some authors then consciously “retaliate” by deliberately being late with their next review. Really!!!
“Tit for tat” may be a dominant game strategy but only when the opponent is the same or you can build a reputation publicly! Neither works in the double blind review world but has huge externalities.
PhD teaching as a calling
After a 50 year effort we are finally getting close to a market equilibrium in the supply and demand for doctoral graduates of accounting programs. However, there can be quite the diversity in the PhD experience that supervisors provide. There are several types of supervisors and as long as they are matched to the right type of student good things can happen.
1. Efficient economic man approach to supervision. Take the student as they are, give them the option to develop underlying theories and tools. Leave the student to determine extent of contributions they will make as long as it meets the minimal threshold of contribution to knowledge.
Comment: is great for a highly self motivated self aware student who has a good grasp of the demands of the research and teaching world and can set their own level of aspiration.
2. The mentor challenger approach to supervision. Assumes if the student is interested in obtaining a PhD that they want to do the best they can given their abilities. Realizes that most accounting doctoral students are unaware of the career trade offs between research and teaching. Recognizes that real understanding of that difference is unlikely to occur before two or three years into the program. Hence, challenges students to be the best researcher they can be while acquiring the basic competency in teaching/course design.
Comment: is great for the student that enters a PhD with a relatively unformed sense of their research capability and is attracted mainly by the profession or the teaching dimension of being a professor.
3. The get what I can get out of the student approach to supervision. The focus of this supervisor is to get as much Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant work from the student and if the students learns about research and teaching from doing so, all the better. Efficient economic man supervisor putting their own short term interests first.
Comment: can work for a student that is willing to make deals, learn by watching and observing the successes and failures of the supervisor, and can cope with the self interested learning environment where their needs always come second. Students with a strong sense of self determination can make this environment work especially if the supervisor is a successful researcher/teacher.