Scholars and Scripts, Eyeballs and
Epistemes: What it Means to Publish
Blaise Cronin
OCLC, April 29, 2004
Publisher’s Economic Problem
• Annual (generalized) 4% reduction in journal subscriptions
• 4% increase in materials to be published
• 4% annual rate of inflation
Source: Peter Bolman (Elsevier)
Academic Tribes and Epistemic
Socio-cognitive differences exists across disciplines
Modes of communication and publication differ
Genres of academic writing and discursive conventions vary
Rules and institutional norms relating to publication vary
The academic reward system is differentially operationalized
ICTs are adopted and co-opted in many different ways
Researchers’ material practices shape and are shaped by ICTs
Tribal Practices
Chemists submit to the Inglefinger Rule
High-energy physicists trust e-preprints
American historians are wild about monographs
The lunatics run the legal asylum
Lone wolves roam in the humanities
Sole-authored, interpretative books counts in history, lit. & lang.
Collaboration is a way of life in science
The author is dead in biomedicine
Philosophers think via the act of writing
Economist have a rigid hierarchy of journals
Linguists publish articles rather than books
Quality Filters and Access
Peer review (burdensome; least worst; heavy  lite)
Career review (Guild mode; institutional legitimacy)
Fear review (open/deep review; 360 degree scrutiny)
Dear review (author fees; OA business model)
Humanists, Presses, and Promotion
Library budgets for monographs declining
Far fewer scholarly monographs being purchased
Competition for faculty positions intensifying
Increasing emphasis on monographic publishing
Fewer outlets for traditional scholarly monograph
Junior faculty between a rock and a hard place
Need for alternative forms of scholarly expression
Publishing subventions for junior faculty
See: MLA, 2002, The Future of Scholarly Publishing
Tipping Point
Print journal subscriptions declining 3-5% p.a.
Concomitant growth in online access
Ease of access and use paramount
In the “river of knowledge” readers find “near substitutes”
“Informal versions of peer review are in operation…scholars
pursue a variety of cues in selecting what materials to access.”
Source: Odlyzko, 2002
Disruptive Technologies
“What Christensen calls DTs tend to have three important
Initially under-perform established products
Enable new applications for customers
Performance improves rapidly
“Electronic publishing has these characteristics…”
Source: Odlyzko, 2002
• E-mail interface started August 1991
– Download data available from start
– WWW usage logs starting from 1993
• 233,000 full text documents (with full graphics), as of 1 May
– Physics, mathematics, computer science, non-linear science
– Growing at 40,000 new submissions per year (est. 2003)
– 20 references per article (over 4.5 million total)
• Over 20 million full text downloads during calendar year ’02
• Over 300 downloads per article from ’96-02
Source: Ginsparg, 2003
Open Access (OA)
OA is free online access to digital works on the public Internet
OA (so far) involves royalty free article publishing
OA removes most licensing and copyright restrictions
OA is not synonymous with public domain
Revenues generated via author submission fees: new business
• OAI-compliant archives/institutional repositories
• Retroactive OA – existing commercial databases?
• Creation of electronic scholarly commons
Open Access
• ‘Gold’ publishers  Open access journals (free at point of use)
= ~5%
• ‘Green’ publishers  Formally support author self-archiving =
• ‘White’ publishers  Tolls and controls
Open Access Developments
24,000 peer-reviewed journals across all disciplines and languages
These journals publish 2,500,000 articles per year (Harnad)
Full-texts of 85-90% of these articles are not accessible toll-free online
Research impact of open access articles is greater (Lawrence)
Growing open access movement; development of institutional repositories and
growth self-archiving…
– Public Library of Science (Plos Biology: $9M grant + Howard Hughes)
– BioMed Central (90 peer-reviewed journals; article processing fee)
– Budapest Initiative for Open Access (Soros Foundation)
– Berlin Declaration on Open Access; DC Principles (48 scientific societies)
– American Scientist Open Access Forum
– Public Access to Science Act (Rep. Martin Sabo’s bill)
– ‘Top story’: Nature, Science Magazine, Wall Street Journal
– DSpace, Google and superarchives
The Attention Economy
“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the
attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a
poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention
efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that
might consume it.”
Herbert Simon, 1971
“Attention is a mode of payment, as well as the main input to
scientific production…reputation is the asset into which the
attention received from colleagues crystallizes.”
Georg Franck, 1999
Harvesting Eyeballs
Heterogeneous Publishing Environment
P-journals, E-journals, E-p-journals, P-e-journals, P+ejournals
Digital libraries
OAI-compliant e-print archives
Web-based publishing/posting/blogging
Bibliometric/Webometric Indicators
• Simulated, fantasy stock market for weblogs
• Players invest fictional money in an artificial economy where
attention is the commodity and weblogs the companies
• Weblogs are valued for their incoming links from other blogs
• 5,000 active players and more than 40,000 known blogs

Scholars and Scripts, Eyeballs and Epistemes: What it