Blog Posts

Censorship in Academic Publishing – we need to act

In my role as member of the International Board of Critical Management Studies, responsible for Publishing, I’d like to point you to an article that has appeared in today’s edition of Times Higher.

The sorry reality is that big, for-profit publishers seem to now think that they can censor our work, as has happened in the case of a specific paper and debate that has now, after months of delays, threats, negotiations, etc, finally been published here.

The piece in question is by Harvie et al, which, in its original form, named and shamed a number of publishers, including Taylor and Francis (Routledge, etc), for dodging taxes and making extraordinary profits on the back of our hard labour. T&F did not like to be exposed in this way, so demanded from the Editor of Prometheus to remove the company names. Also, without consultation, a silly disclaimer has now been added to all pieces published in this debate in this issue (see the responses to the Harvie et al article in this issue).

This is the first time I see this kind of censorship taking place. It should make us think very seriously about our relationship to the publishers we seem to be so dependent on these days. Can they be trusted? So far it’s been a question of them giving us the freedom of what we want to publish, as long as it is high quality and brings in the profits for them (on the back of our free labour). But this episode takes this debate to a whole new level, and we now really need to think very hard about our relationship to the publishers, particularly the big, multinational, for-profit companies, such as Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, Springer, Wiley – and a few others – that make extraordinary profits with our content and labour.

As I say in the Times Higher article today, I think the only way for us to go forward is to have much more control again over the publishing process, taking publishing back in-house, so to say. By either starting new university presses or running journals entirely ourselves (and ideally making them open access).

I think we do have a choice, and in my role as member of the IBCMS I will try to help us moving into the right direction. We need more control over publishing again!

Views, responses, feedback welcome.