Collateral damage of the non-open reviewing boycott

October 17, 2011

Regular readers will know that, as part of a broader strategy favouring open-access publishing, I no longer perform peer-reviews for non-open journals.  (I mentioned a recent example in a comment on the last article.)  I’ve had support for this stance from some impressive quarters; but also a fair bit of criticism from people who I respect.  That includes some strong open-access advocates who agree with me on where we want to land up, but don’t like the tactics I’m using to get there.

The most detailed of those criticisms in an article entitled Should we review for any old journal? by Andy Farke, and I think it deserves a detailed response.  Andy’s open-access credentials are impeccable — he writes about the issue in detail on his blog, and is an editor for PLoS ONE, by most metrics the leading open-access journal.  So when he has a criticism, it’s worth hearing.

Andy has several concerns.  Let’s look at them in turn.

I argue that, unless carefully constructed, such reviewing boycotts may never be noticed by some of the concerned parties. A typical journal editor will think “oh, Reviewer 1 refused to review. . .on to Reviewer 2.” Even if the refusal to review is accompanied by a note explaining the reasoning behind the refusal, only the editor will ever see it (and potentially the publishing admins – who have little vested interest in changing the status quo).

This is an excellent point.  A protest that no-one knows about is not going to be an effective protest.  From now on, whenever I turn down a non-open review, I will send a message to the editor, the publisher and the authors.  (Andy suggests this as one candidate strategy later on in his article.)

Second, when the pool of qualified reviewers is small to begin with, this could have the consequence of letting some really bad stuff slip into publication.

I’m not sure I buy this.  If a journal can’t find reviewers for an article, the only honourable thing for them to do is return it to the author and say so, not give it a free pass.  At any rate, it looks like a purely hypothetical problem to me.  If and when the day comes that a paper comes out that I was asked to review and declined, and I see that it’s bad and should have been blocked in review — on that day I will start to try assessing the damage.  At the moment, though, the apparent damage is zero.

I am not — not quite — going to say “never”.  For example, suppose someone found a more complete specimen of Xenoposeidon and submitted the description to Cretaceous Research, a non-open Elsevier journal that is actually a good match for the subject matter.  That truly is a paper that would benefit most from being reviewed by the person who has spent an order of magnitude more time looking at and thinking about NHM R2095 than anyone else on the planet.  In such a situation I might waive my policy.

But I’m hesitant about even admitting that.  Once you start to admit that there may be extra-special circumstances, it’s easy to start making more and more exceptions.  I’m not going to do that.

Anyway …  Back to Andy:

Third, the journals are not the ones hurt most directly by review boycotts; it is the authors. The journal will almost always find someone else to review the paper (with a delay as these reviewers are recruited); and if not, the manuscript will be returned for lack of qualified reviewers (with a delay as the paper is prepared for submission elsewhere). Rightly or wrongly, publications are a primary currency of academia. If getting that publication delayed means my friend or colleague doesn’t get a job, or a grant, or tenure, I have hurt them, not just the profits of the journal.

Here we come to the real issue — the “collateral damage” that Andy mentioned in his title.

First, let’s say that he’s right — there is damage.  A reviewing boycott is going to hurt authors.  It’s regrettable.  If I could hurt the non-open journals without hurting the authors, I surely would.  So this is a tough situation.  It’s a tough decision.

But as Matt has ably pointed out, we’re in a war.  A combination of historical accidents have manoeuvred us into a position where the interests of authors are directly opposite to those of publishers: in short, authors want their papers to be read by everyone with maximum convenience, and publishers want to prevent them from being read except by an elite few who are able and willing to pay.  My judgement is that whatever damage I may do to authors through a reviewing boycott is a tiny, tiny proportion of the damage that non-open publishers do to them every time they give away their work to a corporation that hides it away in a walled garden.

In short: there is no wholly good solution here.  It’s a matter of finding the least bad solution.  In the long term it is, unquestionably, to the advantage of all authors for open access to become ubiquitous.  Without a doubt we will need to make sacrifices to reach that future, including passing up opportunities to place our work in higher impact venues.  This is one more such sacrifice.

… and at this point, I’m a bit nonplussed.  What did we expect?  That it would just fall into our laps?  That the gigantic multinational corporations that eat our work would happily hand it all back to us?  That they would cheerfully give up the anti-science business model that has made them record profits year on year?  Did we think there would be no fight?  That we wouldn’t have to give anything up along the way?

And so on to Andy’s constructive suggestions.

1) Refuse to review the paper, but fully explain why in a letter submitted directly and separately to the editor, journal, and authors. This way everyone gets the message – not just a select few.

This is definitely the way to go.  To be clear: it’s not the only strategy we should be pursuing, but it’s the best way I’ve heard to handle the problem of reviewing.

(Might journals object to an invited reviewer contacting the authors directly?  I can’t think of a legitimate reason why they might, but I suppose it’s possible.  Anyone have any experience of this?)

2) Review the paper, but include a message with the review (perhaps both in the review text and in a direct letter to the authors) on the shame of the work being locked behind a paywall. Make the authors think twice about whether or not the intended audience will ever see the paper.

This strikes me as weak sauce.  I think of it as an emergency backup plan for the very rare cases where there really is a compelling reason to review something in a non-open journal, such as the Xenoposeidon example above.

But even then, aren’t there better alternatives?  Like simply contacting the authors directly, and explaining why you think it’s important that they send the work elsewhere?  Realistically, no author having gone successfully through peer-review is then going to pull the paper on a reviewer’s recommendation and submit it elsewhere.  Better to raise that possibility before the review has happened.

3) Submit your own work to open access journals, cite work in open access journals, and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Oh!  Let me be very clear here: I certainly never meant to suggest a reviewing boycott as a substitute for a submission boycott!  No, it’s meant to accompany a proper open-access submission policy.

Again, I am not going to say “never”.  There are situations where no doubt I will be more or less forced to allow my work to appear in non-open venues — for example, when I speak at a conference, contribute a paper for the proceedings volume, and find that the volume is going to be non-open.  But even then, there are other approaches to be taken.  For example, when exactly this happened with my sauropod history paper being published in a non-open and ludicrously expensive Geological Society special volume, I found a way to retain the right to freely redistribute copies of my chapter.  (I have not used the SPARC Addendum yet, but may be useful in such situations … even if it does sound like a John Grisham novel.)

OK, last lap.  Here we go.  Andy says:

I sympathize with the sentiment that we academics shouldn’t be propping up the questionable practices of some publishers, but we also need to avoid shooting ourselves (and our colleagues) in the foot as a result.

I have to disagree.  Foot damage is regrettable, but it’s better than slavery.  What’s maybe got lost in this pragmatic discussion of ways and means is that the status quo is wrong.  Everyone has to make their own moral choices, but for me it would be Just Plain Wrong to perpetuate the corporate incarceration of publicly funded science.

It’s hard to write about these things without coming across as overwrought and hysterical, but let me try an analogy here.  The economic sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s, intended to bring about the end of apartheid, most certainly hurt the very citizens that they were intended ultimately to help.  But most people would agree that history has vindicated those sanctions.  It was a hard decision to make.  No doubt there were plenty of anti-apartheid activists who, with the best intentions, opposed the sanctions because of their immediate negative effect on people on the ground.  But, happily, longer-term thinking won out.  We need to be similarly far-sighted.

Is it hyperbole to compare paywalled research with institutionalised racism?  Yes, of course.  But maybe not by so much as you think.  The developing world is beset by appalling diseases that we in the West don’t even need to think about, and suffers constant famines.  Who knows what fruitful research might have been done — both by professional scientists in those countries and by unaffiliated amateurs in the West — if only the foundational research was available to them?  Open Access isn’t just a First World Problem: it potentially affects health and access to food and water for millions, or even billions, of people.

So, yeah.  I am cool with a bit of collateral damage.


35 Responses to “Collateral damage of the non-open reviewing boycott”

  1. Mike, it is good to read that you might consider exemptions – as I said I do, and I guess that I now reviewed the paper you refused to review, for the reason I gave.

    In sum, the best and most important approach is OA-only submission, and canvassing for OA journals. A full-blown review boycott by many might rock the boat very hard – I just fear that too few will take part. So let’s canvass for it first!

  2. I hope it would be fair to point out that Mike is in the enviable position of not needing to worry about the impact of such a boycott on himself; his current/future employment is not at stake; whereas for most other reviewers it is to some (small, perhaps) degree.

    For instance, when applying for tenure/promotion, some grants and fellowships, etc. you will be asked to list journals you have reviewed for and even the number of times you have reviewed for them. This is taken as an indicator of how much of a reknown world expert you are in your field(s). And to not have some Nature, Elsevier-journals (full disclosure- I’m an associate editor at an Elsevier journal, J Theor Biol— cue sinister music…), etc on there would look not so good to some evaluating committees as a result. I’m not saying this situation is right, but it certainly is the way it is. So I’d caution young researchers to be wary of adopting such an approach early in their career, if they are academia-bound.

    Sorry if someone else pointed this out earlier. Very interesting discussion.

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    John is right, of course: it’s easier for me to agitate than for many other researchers, because my livelihood lies outside academia, and I’m not looking for grants or promotions. I can rock the boat knowing that if I get knocked overboard my family won’t starve. For the same reason, I guess, I’ve found that much of the stronger support I’ve had for a reviewing embargo has come from senior academics — tenured staff who don’t need to think about promotion too much (though presumably they still apply for grants).

    Still and all: like I said, in the end it’s about doing what’s right. Sometimes, that comes with a price.

    On a practical note, if you have ever reviewed for Science or Nature, you can still put “reviewer for Science” on your CV. You don’t need to keep doing it in order to refresh :-)

  4. Mike,

    This comment “On a practical note, if you have ever reviewed for Science or Nature, you can still put “reviewer for Science” on your CV. You don’t need to keep doing it in order to refresh :-)” isn’t entirely true (or at least isn’t entirely appropriate for the issue John mentioned).

    In some cases (like my own job) we have to file annual reports on our work, and part of that annual report is the number of reviews and the journals/granting agencies they were for for the previous calendar year. While I grant you I can’t imagine this one metric is a deal breaker with regards to employment status as such, but it is indeed part of the yearly measure of different members of the college.

  5. David Hone Says:

    Just to chime in, I’m in a similar position. Mike’s ideas are sound in theory, but I simply cannot jeopardise my academic future by not submitting to, or reviewing for, certain journals. Foot shooting is all very well at the ‘academia’ level (the field as a whole will suffer for a bit but recover), but when it’s my foot specifically at risk, I’m understandably more wary. I don’t really want to jeopardise my last dozen years of training for this, however much I might like it to change. Selfish perhaps, but then I guess I would simply say that I value my career and the efforts I have made to get here more than I dislike the non-OA situation.

    On a related note, I certainly have seen bad papers get published that I refused to review as they ended up going to less appropriate referees. And I can’t see that this would not happen more often if more people took up this concept. After all, is say every major sauropod worker stopped reviewing papers, that will not necessarily stop other people on the fringes submitting sauropod-centric papers to non-OA journals. And other referees will probably be found who will do a decent, if not great, job. So the work will still be published, and it will be refereed less well to the detriment of the research.

  6. Then clam conscientious objector
    To the right people, that may be more of a bonus than being an active reviewer.

  7. I do see a certain risk for people whose employment hangs on such (idiotic) metrics. Luckily, nobody in Germany cares who I review for – or not.

    As far as submissions are concerned, however, things are a bit different. Nobody forces you to submit to sucky journals, unless you have N&S material at your hands (there is no OA journal of equal rank). However, there are excellent OA journals, and through your submission and citations you can make them even better, and more prestigious. Here, at least, we can change the playing field with little risk to our careers (and yes, with respect to where I publish, and how much, I am affected).

  8. David Hone Says:

    Pseudo reply to Heinrich / general observations:

    I’ve yet to have any issues over my reviews but submissions are a different thing. And yes, there are good OA journals out there, the choice is far narrower, and none (for palaeo at least) that can touch big hitters like Nature and Science etc. And all too many hiring committees, promotional boards and grant review boards want to see papers get into those journals, if only occasionally. Right now, in an awful lot of places, you simply have to try and get your best stuff in there or risk losing out. It’s not good, but it is true.

  9. Mike Taylor Says:

    I think we all acknowledge the reality-distortion-field effect of Science and Nature. And even though a paper submitted there is a terrible waste of good science, it would take a sterner hardliner than me to condemn someone for doing it — especially if, like John H. with his running-rex paper, they follow up with a full-length study in a regular journal. It’s absurd that an enormous amount of prestige is attached to having one’s work in S&N; but while that stupid fact remains a true stupid fact, I won’t begrudge people playing that game. Or, at least, I’ll limit myself to futile bitter grumbling into my beer.

  10. David Hone Says:

    Well fair enough Mike! But it’s true of some others as well. PloS One is a great place for research, but it’s IF is still way behind say PNAS or Proc R Soc B and others. I hate IFs, think they are misrepresentative and damaging. But until people stop using them to rate candidates, they simply have to be respected. Sadly.

  11. Mike Taylor Says:

    PloS One is a great place for research, but it’s IF is still way behind say PNAS or Proc R Soc B and others.

    People’s perception of IFs can be a long way out. PLoS ONE stands at 4.411 for the year 2010, which makes it more than two and a half times as impacty as Proc B., on 1.702. (You’re right that PNAS is well out ahead of both of them, though.)

    But there are two more points to be made here.

    First, let’s remember again that we are concerned with what is right as well as what is expedient.

    Second, and purely pragmatically, what is it that you want for your paper? Do you want it to appear in a venue with highly cited articles, or do you want it to be a highly cited article? They are not at all the same thing. Make it into PNAS and you will get the cachet of being in an IF-9.771 journal, sure. But those numbers describe how many citations other people’s papers in PNAS have been getting. It’s a sure thing that your paper will be much more widely read, and therefore more widely cited, if it’s in PLoS.

    The truly pathetic thing about this — the really mind-crunchingly, spleen-splinteringly stupid blight on the face of the universe — is that it may be better for your career to go the first route. If you work in an institution where they count up the IFs of the journals where your papers are published, then it may be advantageous to forego actually getting read and cited, for the benefit of rubbing up against other papers that, despite the disadvantage of being in a walled garden, still accumulate many citations. Promotion by the company that you keep rather than by your own achievements.

    Ugh. I have to go and lie down.

  12. David Hone Says:

    “The truly pathetic thing about the — the really mind-crunchingly, spleen-splinteringly stupid blight on the face of the universe — is that it may be better for your career to go the first route. If you work in an institution where they count up the IFs of the journals where your papers are published, then it may be advantageous to forego actually getting read and cited, for the benefit of rubbing up against other papers that, despite the disadvantage of being in a walled garden, still accumulate many citations. Promotion by the company that you keep rather than by your own achievements.”

    That is, essentially my point Mike. I know of places that, if not hire, certainly look favourably on people who have done such things, and will promote etc. based on them. Certainly when you are going for a job and some poor sod has a pile of a few dozen or even over a hundred CVs to get through quickly, someone with a Nature or Science paper or 2 is likely to survive the pruning stage, regardless if anyone read or cited the paper. I’ve certainly been told it happens by those who have those very things to do.

    And as for the IFs, Proceedings B according to Andy’s spreadsheet ( is over 5 at the mo, not 1.7. But the point is still there – there’s nothing yet that’s OA that can compete with the giants.

  13. Mike Taylor Says:

    On Proc. B’s impact factor: I got it from Wikipedia, which gives it as 1.702 for 2009. Dumb of me, I should have gone to the journal’s own site, which gives 5.064 for 2010 — which is indeed slightly better that PLoS ONE. Either Proc. B improved dramatically in a single year — which is unlikely for such a venerable journal — or the Wikipedia article is wrong. At any rate, the 2010 figure is obviously more useful than the 2009, so I will edit the Wikipedia page.

  14. Mike Taylor Says:

    No, I was even dumber than that — 1.702 was the 2009 IF for Proc. A. I’ve fixed the Wikipedia article now, to use the correct 2010 figures for both journals.

  15. David Hone Says:

    I did think 1.7 was quite a bit lower that it should have been! Not worries!

  16. Allen Hazen Says:

    “I will send a message to …the authors”
    If you can do that, it means the journal you are boycotting doesn’t practice anonymized refereeing… which, given the empirical evidence that “reputation” of the author (or the author’s institution” influences judgment of a paper’s quality, is perhaps another reason to refuse to have anything to do with it!

    Anonymous refereeing is common with philosophy journals (even journals in areas like logic where there is a disciplinary overlap with mathematics), but doesn’t seem to be valued by as many scientists. Frankly, on this issue I think the culture of academic philosophy (dreadful as it is in some other ways) is preferable to that of science.

  17. Mike Taylor Says:

    Actually, Allen, while I can see some value in completely secret reviewing (no-one knows who anyone else is), I think science is better served by going to the opposite extreme: completely open reviewing, where the reviewers know who the author is and vice versa, and the actual reviews are publicly posted along with the resulting article.

    It would mean that all reviewer misbehaviour would be out in the open: anyone reviewing a paper on the basis of who wrote it rather than what it said. or holding up a publication to let theirs through first, would be seen to have done that. It would also mean that people such as Jerry Harris who give truly constructive, detailed reviews, would get more of the credit they deserve for their work. Reward for the good guys, exposure for the bad guys — what’s not to like?

    (It’s interesting that there are two candidate ways to fix peer-review, and that they are exact opposites!)

  18. Michael Richmond Says:

    It is possible that the attitudes of those who make decisions in the hiring process (deans, department heads, provosts, etc.) won’t change until they are replaced by a new generation. In that case, one would have to wait for 15-20 years before one could escape the trap of Nature, Science, and other prestigious and expensive journals.

    Perhaps one might achieve similar results more quickly by pointing out to those same decision makers the cost of the prestigious journals. Our library spends a large fraction of its budget on a relatively few journals, all of which are (of course) pay-for-play enterprises. Appealing to the pursestrings of cash-strapped administrators might be more effective than appealing to their sense of fairness, or complaining that over-worked faculty are being forced to do extra work as reviewers.

    That approach will only work if the open-access journals are much less expensive. Are they?

  19. Andy Farke Says:

    Excellent post! It is good to see more explanation of your thoughts on this, although I still disagree on the appropriate strategy.

  20. Mike Taylor Says:

    That approach will only work if the open-access journals are much less expensive. Are they?

    As I’ve noted elsewhere, the difficulty in shifting to author-pays open access is that universities’ libraries and research departments are funded separately, so that when the extra costs to the latter result in savings for the former, it doesn’t look like a good deal (in the short term) for the research departments.

    But let’s ignore that for now, and imagine a perfect economy where universities could shift money from the subscriptions that libraries buy to the publication fees that departments pay. If we could reassign all that money, would the universities spend more or less in total?

    The answer may surprise you. A recent article on the Poetic Economics blog shows that Elsevier’s 2009 profits of more than $2.075 billion, divided by the world’s total scholarly output of 1.5 million articles per year, comes out to $1383 per article. Now as it happens, PLoS ONE’s publication fee is $1350.

    So think about it. That means that if we all stopped buying Elsevier journals — just Elsevier, no other publisher — and if we threw away the proportion of the savings that Elsevier spends on costs, including salaries; then the profits alone would have been sufficient to fund every single research article in the world to be published in PLoS ONE — freely available to the whole world.

    Again, you could keep your other pay-for subscriptions if you want (though you’d hardly need to if everything was open access). Cancelling Elsevier journals alone, and re-routing the profit portion alone, would be enough for the whole world to go open access.

    So, yes, it’s cheaper. Stupidly cheaper. Absurdly, ridiculously cheaper.

  21. Allen Hazen Says:

    Thanks for that reply (three posts up). I think it’s clear that “blind” refereeing has advantages, as alluded to in my post. You remind us of advantages of “sighted” refereeing. It’s an empirical issue, and not one I think I can contribute much to, which set of advantages is in fact more important.

    Of course, the advantages you cite (exposing referee malfeasance to obloquy, exposing refereeing excellence to praise) should stem from having the REFEREES identified, whereas the problems I saw as motivating blind refereeing are solved by keeping the identity of the AUTHORS secret from the referees (at least until after submission of the referees’ reports). Maybe one-way blindness would be best?

  22. Mike Taylor Says:

    I think, Allen, that either double-blind or fully open reviewing would be an improvement on the current system, where reviewers have all the power and the privilege of asymmetric anonymity.

  23. […] Collateral damage of the non-open reviewing boycott « Sauropod … That includes some strong open-access advocates who agree with me on where we want to land up, but don't like the tactics I'm using to get there. The most detailed of those criticisms in an article entitled Should we review … Source: […]

  24. Annoyingly, some journals do not honor a reviewer’s wish. I found out (by accident) that a journal had NOT revealed my name in a case where I had explicitly asked to be non-anonymous, and even put a remark into the comment to the editor that the authors should approach me for technical help if they need it.


  25. Brian Romans Says:

    Mike, you’ve given me a lot to think about. Honestly, I feel similar to many of the other commenters on this and the other threads — as an asst prof seeking tenure I’m hesitant to go ‘all in’ like you. But, I do want to keep better track of the OA journals in my field, cite them more, and submit to them. A baby step perhaps, but at least a step in the right direction.

  26. […] relative importance of writing a good article and placing it in a good journal. I recently wrote (…) that “If you work in an institution where they count up the IFs of the journals where your […]

  27. John Hawks Says:

    Thanks for writing this up, Mike, and especially for your contributions to the comment thread, which have been great.

    Personally, I can’t believe you folks who think that *reviewing for a journal* is going to matter to your tenure case!

    Sure, the value is nonzero, but you’d be better off turning down 10 review requests and writing another manuscript.

    Or better yet, you can become an associate editor for PLoS ONE or BMC. They’re always looking for editors to handle papers. Why shouldn’t it be you writing to your three or four of your colleagues as potential reviewers, instead of waiting for one of them to write to you?

  28. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, John. Your analysis of the relative contribution of reviewing and editing to tenure cases looks spot on to me, but then since I am not a paid academic and not aiming for tenure myself, I try to be careful about telling people in that situation what to believe :-)

  29. Mickey Rowe Says:

    The claim that the boycott hurts authors more than journals by prolonging the review process, leading to lower quality reviews and thereby lower quality papers is probably not true in the long term. With all due respect to John Maynard Keynes, it seems to me we have no choice but to focus on that long term. No matter what tactics are used, it is likely to be some time before Mike’s open access utopia is meaningfully approached. Andy tries to minimize the extent to which a drop in quality will impact a journal with a flip reference to schadenfreude, but it seems to me that, to the extent that the problems Andy posits materialize, the journals will pay the ultimate price.

    Turnaround time and journal reputation will always figure into authors’ decisions as to where to send manuscripts. If a journal’s lead time goes up and quality goes down, the journal’s reputation will suffer. And you would expect that to spiral because it’s a positive feedback loop. You can even throw in the likelihood that people who don’t boycott will at least take longer with their reviews as the journal’s reputation sinks.

    And with that sinking reputation will come a decrease in subscriptions. Andy professes concern that the people making decisions won’t feel the pain. Like the proverbial frog that boils because the water temperature increased so slowly he never realized he was dying, a publisher of a journal losing subscriptions because of the boycott never needs to know why the journal is dying.

    I’d also like to throw in my two cents as to how the current system hurts science in a way I haven’t seen anyone else express. Although I have a few more papers I’d like to write, I’m not currently working as a scientist. I’m instead working tech support for a company that makes systems to acquire and analyze physiological data for teaching and research. Fairly often there are times I’m asked questions that I would be better able to answer if I could access the relevant literature. As a small company, we have no library. We do have means through some paywalls but not many. Consequently it’s rare that I can get to the most relevant articles that would help me help our customers. And hence our customers (a.k.a. scientists) aren’t getting the best help they could get. The current system is even more insidious than you realize…

    Mickey P. Rowe

  30. […] world is pointing out to decision makers that open-access publishing/reading is cheaper, and commented “that approach will only work if the open-access journals are much less expensive. Are […]

  31. […] Then we got distracted and posted a whole sequence of articles on Open Access ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]).  If that seems like an intimidating sequence to catch up, you should just read the last […]

  32. […] is the value, then? Well, I’ve mentioned Jerry Harris several times before as someone whose reviews are full of detailed, helpful comments that really do improve papers. I […]

  33. […] get more complicated and there’s more potential for Conflict of interest. What I do is, I only perform peer-reviews for open-access journals. And I am happy to put that time/effort in knowing the world will […]

  34. […] This morning, I was invited to review a paper — one very relevant to my interests — for a non-open-access journal owned by one of the large commercial barrier-based publishers. This has happened to me several times now; and I declined, as I have done ever since 2011. […]

  35. […] Part of this “reviewers don’t get paid” thing is good, because it indicates that academics broadly are waking up to how badly they’ve been had by commercial publishers. It’s part of that necessary anger that Scott Aaronson wrote about back when. But I can also understand why people are pushing back and saying, “Oh, if you don’t review you’re not supporting the academic community that (in part) makes your career possible. We should all pitch in and do the work.” Until recently, there was no way to separate those two strands: in doing peer reviews (and editing, etc.), one was both supporting the community as a good citizen, and also, unavoidably, helping commercial publishers line their pockets. But now that previously single path has bifurcated (no, not that way). Now it’s possible to be a good citizen for the community by editing and reviewing for OA journals, and stick it to the barrier-based publishers by not editing and reviewing for them (here’s how to politely decline, and see more discussion here). […]

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