Foxconning Science: J. Sallaz on outsourcing in scientific publishing

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While browsing I came across a very interesting article by Jeffrey J. Sallaz with the title “Your Paper Has Just Been Outsourced”.

The sociologist at the University of Arizona deals with outsourcing in publishing, as the title says. Sallaz draws parallels between the cheap production of overpriced mobile phones in Asian low wage countries and a similar practice of commercial science publishers: Outsourcing copy editing and layouting to low wage countries and selling the cheaply produced articles at top prices. It should be noted that copy editing and layouting are the only contributions of commercial publishers to the publication as a product.

Nonetheless, mobile phone manufacturers and publishers can sell cheaply produced works at overpriced prices, as customers tend to base the price they want to pay on the perceived prestige of the product rather than the real cost of its creation. Sallaz gives this finding a beautiful and catchy expression: Foxconning Science.

One Reply

  • Dear Martha, I know the posting you mentioned and of course some publishers really add significant value to a publication. In fact I am the co-founder of an university press, I am responsible for the publications of a learned society, I am editorial board member and I published many, many scientific works. I also did consulting for learned societies on publication issues. That’s why I think I know some things about scientific publishing. And my impressions are that commercial publishers mostly do not add value to publications in any significant dimension. To be honest the value the big publishers add is ridiculous compared to their subscription fees or APCs.

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