27 January 2010

Movie rentals and journals

There is an online DVD rental business that bothers me. First, this business stinks up the net with pop-under ads. Argh! Haven’t businesses learned how irritating those are? Why can’t you just buy banner ads, you maroons?!

I also dislike that it forces me into paying for a recurring monthly subscription. Why won’t you let me just rent one movie?!

And yet... I have a subscription and do business with this company. Despite my annoyances (and the ads do annoy me – a lot), they are pretty much the only business that does what they do. They provide a service that is useful to me. So I hold my nose and pay their subscription fee.

This parallels my attitude towards many research journals, particularly regarding open access. I would like it if journals were open access, just as I would like it online DVD rental business wouldn’t buy those damned pop-under ads. But a lot of those journals do provide useful services. They do good jobs on the editorial side, good production values, and good distribution, even if not open access.

There are some researchers who advocate never publishing in any journal that isn’t open access. But how much perfection do you demand in any product?

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