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Cost of humanities journals

July 20, 2009

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (sorry, must subscribe to see full article) reports on research that asserts that it costs leading humanities journals nearly $10,000 to publish and article. I will withhold unbridled mocking of such absurdity until the full report appears on the National Humanities Alliance Website, but this surely says much more about the bloated bureaucracy of organizations such as the Modern Languages Association and the American Historical Association than it does about the actual costs of publication.

Had the research been done sensibly across a representative spectrum of humanities journals (including those already published open access), which would seem to be what a study that purports to show the cost of publication in humanities journals would do, not only would the figure have been significantly lower, but it would have actually been a useful study for those of us engaged in the publication of humanities journals. What we have instead is more Mellon-funded navel gazing, with a self-important funding agency funding a self-important lobbying group to do research on a handful of self-important journals published by self-important and (clearly) inefficient societies. Sure, publishing in the PMLA is special, but let’s accept the fact that important scholarship is published elsewhere and while such titles cannot be ignored, they are not the be all and end all of publication in the humanities. To assert otherwise is inane.

Perhaps the report will enlighten us all, but what on god’s green earth is this money being spent on? Given that editors and reviewers work pro bono in the humanities, it sounds to me like the societies are creating a bureaucracy that serves and feeds upon itself.

One Comment
  1. Jennifer permalink
    July 20, 2009 23:53

    well, I’d surely like $50 for my article, if you’re already spending $10,000 on it, what’s another few bucks?? 🙂

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