Should researchers be paid for journal articles??

This incredibly comprehensive and interesting article from the Scholarly Kitchen explores in some depth whether academic researchers should be paid for each journal article that is published. The study looks at how this would increase the cost to publishers (both in terms of having to pay researchers and ALSO to not be able to get payments from authors for things like color illustrations and the like). This cost would be passed on to us (or for most of us, the libraries at our institutions, and THOSE cost increases would be passed on to students in increased tuition) (ok I know this is very simplistic and I apologize for that but you get the idea).

There are clear incentives for researchers (on top of what the article points out are OTHER existing incentives) but this could be a problem as plagarism could increase. The article says “After all, adding an incentive to an already heady pile of incentives would promise to only bring out more bad behaviors.”

When I read this with my ‘MTurk’ spectacles on, though, I thought that if researchers had the promise of payment at the back end, it might encourage them to pay more upfront to research participants. That’s a plus. And an incentive to be a more ethical payer to subjects.

The article concludes, though, “in fact, it may be that after exploring the potential to get paid, some researchers would begin to prefer publishers who didn’t pay them. After all, they would be competing only on the quality of their research, not on distracting elements driven by the payment scheme. At the same time, publishers and editors would start to prefer authors who waived their payments. The mutual benefits would be real — nobody would have tax headaches, papers would be published sooner, and the science rather than the complexity of paying authors (available budget, processing) would be the focus again. Overall, not being paid may be preferred by both parties. Because the strong incentives around publication would remain, there would still be good reasons to get works published soon and in strong journals.”

I am not sure–I would love to see an academic study of academics on getting paid for publication.

Anyway–great and thought provoking work from Kent Anderson at Scholarly Kitchen.

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