What Do Publishers Know?
In this short contribution to the open access debate, I will draw upon my expertise as a sociologist who has studied the publishing industry to argue that publishers do in fact have knowledge that is absolutely critical to an informed understanding of open access and how it may be successfully implemented. After providing an overview of who publishers are and what motivates them, along with some of often little-understood complexities of the academic publishing industry, I focus upon the one important thing that publishers understand very well—and far better than most academics—how publishing is funded. I then discuss why collaboration, not competition, between publishers and academics is the only real way forward and conclude with a warning to fellow academics that casually dismissing their potential contribution is both counterproductive and, in the worst case scenario, may threaten the future flourishing of our profession.
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