Game theory and scholarly publishing: premises for an agreement around open access

Actors in research and scientific publishing are gradually joining the Open-Access (OA) movement, which is gaining momentum to become nowadays at the heart of scientific policies in high-income countries. The rise of OA generates profound changes in the chain of production and dissemination of knowledge. Free access to peer-reviewed research methods and results has contributed to the dynamics of science observed in recent years. The modes of publication and access have also evolved; the classic model, based on journal subscriptions is gradually giving way to new economic models that have appeared with the arrival of OA. The objective of this article is twofold. First, propose a model for the publishing market based on the literature as well as on changes in open science policies. Second, analyze publishing strategies of publishers and institutions. To do so, we relied on game theory in economics. Results show that in the short term, the publisher’s equilibrium strategy is to adopt a hybridpublishing model, while the institutions’ equilibrium strategy is to publish in OA. This equilibrium is not stable and that in the medium/long term, the two players will converge on an OA publishing strategy. The analysis of the equilibrium in mixed-strategies confirms this result.

Gaming the Publishing Industry

“Despite the potential variances of method and mediation introduced to publishing via digital platforms, scholarly print publishing in established humanities disciplines continues to rely on a number of longstanding traditions and habits of practice. These habits still privilege academic journals and scholarly monographs or co-edited collections, many of which remain largely inaccessible for purchase to all but well-funded academic libraries. To encourage a broader distribution, exposure, and uptake of our work to expanded audiences, there is a pressing need to diversify publishing opportunities, to circumvent some of the less-accessible venues of scholarly communication, and to overcome restrictive barriers to augmenting and enriching textual content in scholarly work via the inclusion of visual and auditory material (especially when exploring multi-media and multi-modal forms of cultural expression). One potential alternative can be found in the emergent field of digital game scholarship and criticism, which has developed along unique communicative and community lines and which offers unconventional models and diversified potentials for scholarly communication….

Given the challenges that dominant forms of academic print-based scholarship introduce to open-access intentions, it is useful to look for other models of community-building, sharing, and knowledge-production which might be better suited to interdisciplinary, multi-media, multi-modal, open-access explorations of cultural expression, while still allowing for scholarly rigour, peer evaluation, and debate. I’m particularly interested in the way that scholarly critical work on digital games is not just limited to print-based output but has evolved along with the emergence of the internet and social media platforms. Exploring this evolution as well as some of the more successful experiments therein offers a unique perspective on the possibility of alternative, open scholarly communication strategies for scholars who are concerned with the restrictive aspects of traditional scholarly publishing models….”