Public Lab Research note

article on vertical consolidation in for-profit scholarly research infrastructure

by liz |

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lead image from

Hey folks, I finally got around to reading the article linked above ^^ from September 2017, and i'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

It features the diagram of the academic knowledge production process at the top of this post, and a 2nd version that shows one or more Elsevier companies operating at each stage:

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Overall, the article is about how scholarly publishers have been responding to the Open Access movement by shifting their business models towards acquiring "scholarly infrastructure, the tools and services that underpin the scholarly research life cycle, many of which are geared towards data analytics." Basically, vertical integration in for-profit knowledge production services:

  • Elsevier has acquired and launched products that extend its influence and its ownership of the infrastructure to all stages of the academic knowledge production process.
  • potential threats posed by this are 1) exclusion of already marginalized researchers and institutions, 2) a resulting increase in global knowledge inequality, and 3) loss of diversity in knowledge as a whole

The article's final thoughts call for scholarly communication to be non-profit:

Our findings support Jefferson Pooley recent argument that scholarly communication shouldn’t just be open but should be not-for-profit as well. The benefits of integrating the academic knowledge production value chain should not be in the hands of rent-seeking and profit-maximizing corporations. There is an urgent need by research communities and public agencies to collaboratively reclaim the infrastructure around the academic knowledge production process.

What do you think?



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