Publishing as a new scholar in philosophy and linguistics

Open forum sparks lively discussion on open access

Linguistics Philosophy Forum, February 1, 2017

From left to right: Alex Byrne, Amy Brand, Ellen Finnie, Kai von Fintel, Lisa Horowitz

In early February, the MIT Libraries sponsored an open forum called “Publishing as a New Scholar in Philosophy and Linguistics.” Geared towards graduate students, the forum featured panelists Alex Byrne, professor of philosophy; Kai von Fintel, professor of linguistics; Amy Brand, director, MIT Press; and Ellen Finnie, head, scholarly communications and collections strategy, MIT Libraries. The panel was moderated by Lisa Horowitz, linguistics librarian. Given that journal acquisition comprises 80-90% of the acquisitions budget in the Libraries, the goal of the forum was to educate and prepare new graduate students to shape and impact the future of scholarship, open access, and copyright regulations through knowledge of how scholarship gets published.

Panelists described their own role and relationship with issues such as the changing scholarly publishing landscape, open access options for authors and their rights in terms of their written work, commercial publishing trade-offs, and long-term considerations of preservation and sustainability. The conversation exposed some paradoxes within the information landscape, such as:

  • Open access has become a way for commercial publishers to make more money.
  • Faculty who understand and support open access may still be contributing to commercial publishers by serving on editorial boards of journals with predatory pricing models.
  • Tenure and promotion still relies on the reputation of journals, rather than focusing more on articles of excellent quality. However, open access journals are working to build up their reputations.

Graduate students left the forum with some knowledge of how to navigate publishing and tenure processes, but with an understanding that they may have less leeway in choosing where to publish to make their case for tenure and promotion. They appreciated the opportunity to learn about their publishing choices, as well as how the Libraries can help them navigate these options.

The Libraries hope to continue to offer sessions like this one for other communities. If you are interested in offering or attending a forum like this for your department, please contact your librarian. You may also be interested in our guides to scholarly publishing.