Betting on Vetting

Over all, the issue is how to achieve open access for new research. For the article-driven fields, the discussion is already avidly under way, but few dare extend the principle to monographs. The web waits like a global petri dish, brimming with growth medium, but the spores are elsewhere. Why? Because tenure and promotion in the social sciences still require an increasingly pointless detour through paper and binding. Young scholars are effectively told: Drop your work into a black hole where it can be seen only by those who can afford the three-figure price of the average Routledge monograph or who enjoy lending privileges from a major research-university library. In our fields, publication is effectively privatization….[With a Review Institute] universities could now decide whom they want to hire and whom to promote without the slightest regard for what the publishers are up to. Publication and vetting will have parted ways. The new slogan for upward academic mobility would be “produce or perish.” That at least is not dependent on the vagaries of what the publishers think the book-buying public will absorb or how ruthlessly library budgets have been slashed….And that brings us to the best part of the proposal. Cutting the tie between publication and evaluation means that—thanks to the web’s practically limitless availability—every work, having passed through the Review Institute, can go straight to its intended audience, and anyone else in the world who is interested….”