Academic publisher tried to order editorial board to reject paper on price-gouging in academic publishing


The price of a subscription to the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, published by the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies in 2012: $69.00.

The price of a subscription to the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, published by Taylor & Francis, in 2014: $380.00.

I can’t imagine why Taylor & Francis would be sensitive to any suggestion of price gouging in the academic publishing industry.


The journals have exactly the same name? That’s got to make looking up citations interesting.

Certainly easier that suing after the fact

No, I should have been clearer. Taylor & Francis took over the journal beginning in 2014. It was last published by the Association in 2012. (Due to a publication delay 2012 subscriptions covered issues published in 2013 as well.)

Funny enough though Taylor & Francis was involved in a dispute over two journals called the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, one originally from the University of Liverpool and one from the University of Glasgow. The Glasgow journal ended up changing its name to the Bulletin of Spanish Studies, which had been its earlier title.


This also brings to mind the Sticker Shock exhibit done by Cornell University’s Engineering Department back in 2001. It’s still available as a Powerpoint file, and still relevant. I’d guess a one-year subscription to the Journal of Applied Polymer Science is still equal or close to the price of a new Toyota Corolla.

Commonality used to be a Mertonian norm pre-WWII, when most of America did not even know what a physicist was; when anybody could apply and get into CalTech’s graduate program; and when it was still possible to get funded following the science wherever it led the scientist.

From Science Education and Scientific Attitudes by Pravin Singh …

“The norm of communality requires that scientific knowledge be held in common, in other words, the researcher is expected to share his findings with other scientists freely and without favor.”

There seems to be a rising awareness that something important has been lost when knowledge becomes fragmented behind paywalls. But, there seems to not be such an awareness that we have strayed from a former ideal here.

My own take is that nobody should really be surprised, as scientists no longer even talk about striving for ideals, or ascribing to philosophy as a guide. If these things are happening somewhere, people who read the news on science simply aren’t told about it. Physics, in particular, is thought to do just fine without interference from philosophers, as an example.

This publication price issue seems to fall into the broader problem of the fading of guidelines & ethics as core principles for scientific work. If people still ascribed to norms or ideals in science, as we once did, these paywalls would have been rejected long ago. So, what I would say, for those who have a problem with it: you might consider addressing the underlying root which allowed this to grow, in the first place. It did not just spring from a vacuum. There are other more fundamental problems here, which have facilitated this to happen. Strike at the root; not the symptom.

I see. There are things that can be done about that sort of behavior. See:

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Please forgive me for tooting my own horn, but:

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