Sarah Spiekermann

Research Area
Information Systems

Research Institution
Institute for Management Information Systems, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Academic Position
Full Professor


In value creation processes each element in the chain has to contribute something of worth to justify its existence. In academic journal publishing value contributions used to be fair: scientists used to be responsible for the intellectual part of value creation and publishing houses handled the administrative burdens. This system is broken.

Scientists like myself don’t see the value contribution of academic journal publishing houses any more. It seems as if anything that the publishing partner used to bring into the relationship has been "back-sourced" to the scientists: they have to spend enormous amounts of time now to type-set their articles, pay language editors, optimize their graphics, ensure flawlessness, delve deeply into the nitty-gritty details of bibliographical peculiarities and even pay for pages sometimes. If they have troubles with ill-conceived online submission platforms they can fight with meagerly staffed help-desks. In return, the scientific author rarely even receives a printed copy of her work and is forced into outrageous copyright agreements that try to prevent from sharing what has been produced. And if the scientist dares to not abide, then the risk of becoming a target for lawsuits hangs like a Damocles’ sword over one’s sharing desires.

Even more: publishing houses have widely quadrupled the prices at which they sell the work that has been so tirelessly produced by scientists; to the point where universities cannot even afford the articles of their own scientific staff and more! And profits? They go to the invisible hands of some unknown publishing house owners.

In short: 0-contributors to the value chain reap 100% of the benefits while at the same time endangering the sustainability of the scientific publication eco-system. Against this background, it seems natural to me that scientists go other ways these days, become less loyal to publishing houses and seek ways to make their work openly and freely available.