*Public Choice*, on the web

The journal that is, and for free.  Really.  Until April.  Here.  The pointer is from Henry Farrell, who notes that the January 2008 issue contains a symposium on blogging which he co-edited with Dan Drezner.

Here is a paper on the economics of open access publishing.  Here is Daniel Akst on the same.  For Cowen and Tabarrok on the same, well…you are here already.

Henry also asks what it would take to make researchers switch to a free access system.  I don’t envision the free access system as the status quo but free.  Papers would be ranked directly in terms of status and popularity rather than ranked through the journals they are published in.  Ultimately there wouldn’t be journals and this would make a big difference as journals are the current carrier of selective incentives and status rewards.  It would be easy to refuse to referee, since you wouldn’t fear being shut out of publication of that journal; I suspect refereeing might die.  And if status were attached to the individual paper rather than the journal, who would bother to become an editor?  It would be a very different world and in some ways more like (academic) blogging than its proponents may wish to think.

In other words, the partial monopolization of for-fee journals makes it possible to produce status returns to motivate both editors and referees.  Returning to the free setting, refereeing will survive insofar as writing detailed referee comments on other people’s work helps with your own research; it is interesting to ponder in which fields this might hold.


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