A simple factoid jumped out at me from a story about the U.S. Postal Service handling of tax returns that appeared in the Star-Advertiser this morning.
The S-A version is hidden behind its paywall. But you can read the original, which ended up in the newspaper in a slightly edited version, in the USPS press release.
The IRS reports that more than 88 million individual federal income tax returns had been filed as of Mar. 29. Of that total, almost 90 percent have been filed electronically. Last year more than 80 percent of the final total of 146 million federal tax returns submitted were filed electronically.
I was shocked by those numbers. I suppose this is just a discrete indicator of how disruptive the internet has been to the USPS. I guess they’re just in the same queue of businesses, like newspapers, looking for a new business model in order to survive.
And now publishers of academic journals are facing similar pressures.
The following discussion appeared in an email concerning the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, but appears to apply across the board to academic publishers.
RE the question of open-access publishing, everyone is struggling with this, and I agree with you it is important to keep a close eye on developments. Some US congressmen are arguing that open-access is harming the American publishing business. Some professional societies depend heavily on revenues from publishing, so they too are cautious. But the biggest American funder NIH is as of June 2013 requiring that all grant-funded papers be posted open-access, and by this they mean posting drafts in WORD, as soon as the paper is accepted by a journal. Official NIH policy is now that all papers credited to any grant must be posted open-access or the authors are deemed ineligible for further funding, which is quite a carrot/stick. Some US and UK universities have offered funds that authors can apply for to cover open access costs, but these funds have rapidly depleted. UK charities such as Nuffield are disinclined to foot the bill for publication costs. In any case, it pays for us to monitor how international policies might affect researchers, and their inclination to submit papers to the journal.
So before journals are published and distributed, their any contents funded through NIH grants must be available online in preliminary form via open access. Journals, like newspapers, will have to figure out what value they can add to justify subscription fees, especially since a bookshelf of printed journals is much less user friendly than an online library of the same materials.
There’s a lot more information available about the open access policy of the National Institutes of Health.
The University of Hawaii has also adopted its own open access policy, along with additional information on what faculty are supposed to do to comply.
Basically, UH says that all academic articles published by its faculty are now subject to an automatic license allowing the university to include the articles in its open access libarary.
I guess newspapers just hit these issues ahead of others. Where all of this eventually ends up is anybody’s guess.