These days, Elsevier and other major publishing companies operate more like Clarivate, an analytics company that not only mines data from their own products and services, like Web of Science, but also privatizes open data sets to their advantage. Soon enough, most research will be “open,” but it won’t be without cost. If the academy becomes evermore intertwined with the business of selling analytics for profit, our decisions as researchers, archivists, and publishers will become even less aligned with the needs of knowledge production and more aligned with the needs of appeasing commercial algorithms that have different definitions of “success.” The impacts of the corporatization of information and the prioritization of data over people have already been felt by the news, retail, and entertainment industries. Moves driven by data analytics are good for business but potentially devastating for the health of ecosystems and the people who comprise them. And academic publishing is next (indeed, if it hasn’t already been happening for years).
It’s an astute read on the datafied surveillance capitalism coming for scholarly communication. The authors endorse the Publish, Review, Curate (PRC) model that’s gaining some promising traction, admitting the cultural and tenure-review challenges:
Little will change unless researchers believe that they can secure a future for themselves by participating in PRC publishing models. For that change to happen, tenure and promotion committees must be willing to value PRC-produced research as highly as papers published in traditionally elite journals. But few people submit PRC-produced research to those committees, so why would they consider valuing it? Simply put, the dam won’t break until researchers demand that their institutions value PRC-produced research.