Learned Societies and the Politics of Publishing

Some thoughts on learned societies and open access publishing, prior to next week’s Royal Geographical Society / Institute of British Geographers meeting.

With the annual meeting of the Royal Geographical Society / Institute of British Geographers coming up next week, this seems like an opportune time to present a challenge to the RGS/IBG and other learned societies regarding the ongoing transformation of the academic publishing industry. Although debates have raged throughout the academic blogosphere concerning open-access publishing and changing pricing (and access) models, few have directed their attention to learned societies, even though they have played a significant role in creating the current situation. It seems to me that if societies had a role creating the status quo, they can play their part in getting us out of it and forging a new future in academic publishing that increases access while putting decision-making in the hands of the scholarly community. After all, the learned societies are our organizations; we should be able to get them to work for us. And they potentially…

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