Is academic research a bubble?

An iconoclastic post: The Bubble In Academic Research, The Last Psychiatrist, February 16, 2009. Excerpts:

Open access articles isn’t nearly as big a threat to publishers as simply unbundling the journals from each other, letting universities decide which ones to buy.

So open access doesn’t threaten subscription revenues, it threatens the number of journals they can publish. It’s the multitude of journals, each with its inflated subscription rate, that brings in the real money. Also, each crap journal carries advertisements; even a crap journal with a small niche can have higher ad rates because of the bundling.


Take away the journals and the [academic research] system collapses. Force researchers with NIH grants to publish their findings without the marketing and packaging of a journal, and you’ve effectively halted half of the NIH research, until another generation of researchers with a different research model show up for work. …..

The academic research system is flawed because it does not incentivize research, it incentivizes the process of research.

Academic research is a bubble, money keeps flowing into it as long as it produces quality research. Who decides quality? Journals are the rating agencies …..

If someone could look behind the ratings, and take measure of the actual value of the research, the bubble would pop faster than, well, you get the idea. Then there’s the “systemic risk.” Journals collapse, academic centers collapse from lack of funding, Pharma loses the AAA rating on their studies which are done by academics, published in journals, etc.

Research would be forced to change completely– and for the better. But you’ll have a decade or so recession in science and education while the old generation dies out and the new one becomes old enough to start work.

Recommendation: Read the entire post, and the comments about it.


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