Colleen Flaherty, writing for Inside Higher Ed:

Roland Hatzenpichler, assistant professor of environmental microbiology at Montana State University, said it’s been about a year since he started refusing to review for for-profit journals for free. In response to one journal’s recent request that he review an article, for instance, Hatzenpichler thanked the editor for the invite but said that because the publication is owned by a major for-profit company with high profit margins, “my consulting fee of $200 per hour applies. Please let me know if these terms are acceptable and I will consider whether I can accept the invitation and/or suggest alternative reviewers. Please note that I will charge a one-time fee of $50 for the latter because I would be effectively doing the work you are being paid for free otherwise.” No journal has taken Hatzenpichler upon his offer thus far. He doesn’t necessarily expect any to do so. He won’t stop asking, however.

Nice idea, nice wording (“my consulting fee… applies”). Asking for payment for the oligopolists is the easy case, however. Much thornier is whether all reviewers should be paid. My thinking on this question has evolved. I used to view volunteer reviewing in terms of the academic’s vocation, as a potent symbol of an anti-pecuniary calling. The first three words of the original Budapest declaration are “An old tradition”—the “willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge.” Reviewing, likewise.

The main reason that conviction has eroded is the broken academic contract: the turn to adjuncts, the decimation of humanities disciplines, and the related turn to market values in higher ed worldwide. If universities don’t hold up their end, citing the scholarly vocation to review for free feels like part of the swindle.