OA Begets an Oligopoly? Mhm

Admitting we fouled up is a good way to start paving a better road forward. And evidence emerges about an NSF COI.

A study in Scientometrics covered in Times Higher Education confirms what logic, math, business acumen, and a familiarity with the history of computer technologies led many to predict — that the move toward high-volume OA publishing focused on cost reductions and lower barriers to entry, along with an emphasis on speed, scale, and efficiency, would cause bespoke and society publishers to collapse and lead to consolidation among a handful of large, mainly commercial publishers.

Treating scientific claims and articles as a commodity never seemed like a sensible idea.

It wasn’t the academics who saw this coming, but the business people — because it turns out academics are generally pretty terrible at business. Worse, many of them actively disparage or denigrate business people, thinking they are simple, shallow, and greedy. As in academia, the business world is a mixed bag. There are some terrible business people, and some with excellent values and skills. These people understand, for instance, that budgets and business models are far more significant than they appear. As I wrote in a related post in 2017:

Budgets are moral documents, and business models are governance structures.