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Academic journals without paywalls

July 3, 2011

I’ve added links on the right to the current Russian literature journals I know about that make some or all of their content available for free. Three cheers for Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, Toronto Slavic Quarterly, and Voprosy literatury! I understand why, ten or fifteen years ago, established journals didn’t want to jump online right away, but today I think academia is justly criticized for keeping scholarship inaccessible.

There must be economic models that would let journals let everyone read their stuff and still pay their editorial staff. Look at Slavic and East European Journal and Slavic Review, which are supported by membership fees from professional organizations, as well as institutional subscriptions. If their content was online (with no fancy login through a university website required) more people would read their articles, and I suspect even the organizations’ own members would read more of the articles. The revenue lost when university libraries no longer needed to subscribe could be made up, at least in part, by dropping the print edition, which, though I like it personally, is likely to be less and less popular with time. Meanwhile, professors would have all the same incentives to join and pay dues to the professional organizations. The universities might even be able to redirect some of the money saved on journal subscriptions to, say, paying the copy editors of journals hosted on their campus. Hosting a journal must bring more prestige than just having a library that pays for the same databases as every other college library.

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