Repost: From the Leiter Reports blog:
Should Scholars Referee Papers for Free for For-Profit Journal Publishers?
Warren Goldfarb (Harvard) raises an interesting issue:
I was wondering whether you'd like to muse about a topic on your blog, namely, that of refereeing for for-profit journals. I was just asked to referee something for Erkenntnis, which is a Springer journal. I began to think, why should I donate my time for no compensation to a for-profit enterprise? It's one thing when a not-for-profit journal asks (for me, it's usually the Jnl. Symb. Logic, or Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, or Mind), but why should I give my time gratis to help Springer or Elsevier make money?
The culture of journal refereeing as a duty of the professoriate in a subject, without compensation, developed when journals did not make any profit. It continues only because we are not interrogating the changes that academic publishing has undergone. (Book refereeing has always been compensated, even from university presses, because the publication was supposed to make some kind of money, even if for a non-profit entity.) Yet, of course, I don't want to damage the younger people in the subject, who need to be published, even in for-profit journals.
But I am tempted to write back to the editor who asked me to referee, "Please be advised that I do not do any refereeing work for journals published by for-profit entities without compensation. Are you prepared to offer compensation for this refereeing job?"
I'd be interested in your reaction, and those of your readers if you think this is an issue of general enough interest to discuss on the blog.
If this were to happen in rhetoric, it would bring the discipline to a standstill: only the NCTE journals, JAC, CF, CS, Rhetorica, Phil & Rhet, and Arg & Adv are still nonprofit, right?