Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Academic Journals and Money

When you write, money should flow in only one direction.  That is, toward the author.  As Samuel Johnson (left) said:

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

And yet vanity presses litter the Internet, shady places where unscrupulous editors have the direction of cashology all wrong (well, except that they make money).  Basically, people pay to get their books published. Which brings us to academic journals that charge a "processing fee" if you are not a member of an organization.

Few if any academic journals pay the author, except of course in prestige and citations and all the stuff that helps a professor get promotion or a raise or whatever few kinds of goodies a particular university has to offer.  As an aside, I did get paid once by an academic journal called Gazette, which was kinda cool.  Anyway, I was journal shopping for a paper of mine and looking at two likely suspects.  I won't name the journals, but they're both about religion and have some form of that word in their title, both are tied to specific organizations, and both either require you to be a member of the sponsoring group or to pay a $25 or $35 fee, depending on which one you send your work to.

What bullshit.

Then again, I've never been a journal editor, never had to balance the academic books.  I serve on the editorial board of Journal of Media and Religion but you do not have to pay to have your work considered for publication, even if you don't belong to the interest group or AEJMC, the sponsoring organization.  As a member of that interest group I do receive the journal for free, but that's different.  Some organizations struggle, so part of me sees the twisted logic in charging for consideration.  Even some very good literary magazines charge a token $10 reading fee.  But academic journals?  This seems to me to be just a tad bit, I dunno, off.  I suppose it does cut down on the crap research editors have to send out to reviewers, but the whole idea of paying someone to consider your academic research strikes me as going against the very grain, the very idea, of academic research.

Or maybe I'm just cheap.

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