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Copyright monopolists naturally seek to limit access to ideas to keep their prices relatively high. No where is this phenomenon more obnoxious than in the case of scientific journals. Here research paid for by universities and government are tightly controlled by journal publishers - this despite the fact that the manuscripts are provided them for free, and the editorial services are largely free as well. At one time journals were by nature paper publications, and typesetting and printing were expensive operations. At that time, access was naturally limited by the number of paper copies, and although in recent years a small fee was charged for additional (xerox) copies, this fee was not difficult to avoid. With the advent of the internet, this system no longer makes sense, and rebellion is brewing in the scientific community. Click here to go directly to information about open access journals in Economics.

In the economics community, Ted Bergstrom has taken the lead, pointing out that scientific societies charge an order of magnitude less for their good journals than the one remaining commercial publisher (Elsevier) does for its not so good journals. He has started a campaign to reduce library costs. We have two small compaigns of our own: the NajEcon initiative of entirely web-based "not a journal," and the news aggregator, Economic Theory News. Promulgation of scientific research via the web has been aided by several other operations. NetEc is a volunteer organization that aims to index and document all economic research on the web. By providing formatted information (similar to news feeds) rather than free form organization, it makes it possible to construct news aggregators such as Economic Theory News, and answer question that Google cannot such as "let me browse interesting work in theoretical economics from the last several months."

There are also three noteworthy non-free projects. JSTOR has created electronic copies of back issues of the major non-commercial journals. Unfortunately, while it once served to make research more available, and still makes back articles that appeared in the non-commercial journal more available than those that appeared in commercial journals, it has long since covered its startup cost, and now serves to obstruct rather than enhance scientific communication through its closed access model. The Social Science Research Network collects various articles in economics and other disciplines and archives them, making some available for free, and other for ridiculously high prices. Whether it server overall to make research more or less available is hard to say. Similarly the BEJournals are online journals that started in an apparent effort to widen access, but seem now to be little different than any other journal.

Open Access Journals in Economics

By far the most exciting development is that of open access journals. An open access journal makes scientific research freely available over the web. That means that anyone can access the information for free, and that the information, unprotected by passwords or other proprietary devices, can be indexed by Google and the other major search engines, so that the information is easy to find. The Public Library of Science is a broad scientific initiative to create open access journals. Within economics, sadly but not unpredictably, the major scientific societies have been slow to move to the open access model. However there are a few bright lights - bear in mind that by having a paper published in one of these journals, your paper will be more widely available than if you publish in a better known journal - and in 10 years time, not only will your paper be more widely available, but the journal may have become better known than the currently famous journals that are killing themselves through closed access.

Economics: A general purpose open-access electronic journal. [Posted at 11/15/2008 12:56 PM by David K. Levine ]

PoET: Ted Bergstrom is at it again: this time he's shining the light of transparency on textbook prices. Take a look. [Posted at 04/03/2008 01:44 PM by David K. Levine ]

The Open Economics Journal: A new open access journal from a commercial publisher, The Open Economics Journal. Too soon to say how it will turn out as they haven't published anything yet. [Posted at 03/30/2008 06:18 AM by David K. Levine ]

Worth Taking a Look: A new creative commons freely redistributable journal in economics - economics. [Posted at 03/14/2007 06:14 AM by David K. Levine ]

Open Access in Economic Theory: The first issue of Theoretical Economics is out. We aim to become the best specialty journal in economic theory. Vote for us. [Posted at 03/03/2006 08:36 PM by David K. Levine ]

Theoretical Economics: Now taking submissions. We aim to become the best specialty journal in economic theory. Here are some photos Ariel Rubinstein took of our secret meeting in London. [Posted at 08/04/2005 10:25 AM by David K. Levine ]

Two Open Access Microeconomic Textbooks: Preston McAfee's Introduction to Economic Analysis and Yoram Bauman's Quantum Microeconomics are both collaborative microeconomics textbooks released under open source licenses. Let's see if we can have a few really good textbooks, rather than dozens of mediocre ones. [Posted at 07/26/2005 02:01 PM by David K. Levine ]

Theoretical Economics: A new very serious open access journal in economic theory. We aim to become the best specialty journal in economic theory. [Posted at 03/31/2005 05:24 PM by David K. Levine ]

Finnish Economic Papers: Focused on small economies and published in English, Finnish Economic Papers is open access, online and publishes papers by well known non-Finnish authors as well as Finnish authors. It is refereed, published twice a year, and run by three societies: the Finnish Society for Economic Research (founded 1936), the Finnish Economic Association (founded 1884) and the Economic Society of Finland (founded 1894). [Posted at 12/01/2004 03:21 PM by David K. Levine ]

Directory of Open Access Journals: A list of open access journals in economics. [Posted at 12/01/2004 03:17 PM by David K. Levine ]

Latin American Journal of Economics: Cuadernos de Economia is published by the Instituto de Economía of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. As a house journal it traditionally published articles on development in Spanish. Now, however, the set of topics has broadened and articles are generally published in English. Because the journal is owned by the University, it provides open access; since this is a great advantage for authors, the editors are taking advantage to upgrade the journal and make it competive with North American economics journals. [Posted at 09/04/2004 12:42 PM by David K. Levine ]

Economic Bulletin: Economic Bulletin is the grandaddy of open access in Economics. Pioneered by John Conley and Myrna Wooders at a time when the term "open access journal" hadn't yet been invented, Economic Bulletin is designed to be a replacement for the Elsevier journal Economics Letters. It publishes short articles and tracks other useful information, such as conference announcements. [Posted at 09/04/2004 12:36 PM by David K. Levine ]

Hot economics on the internet: Economic Theory News lightly screened listing of the latest research in economic theory, NAJ Economics peer reviewed publication on the web [Posted at 05/23/2004 02:14 PM by David K. Levine ]


Economic Theory News


Boycott Rogue Journals


Open Access in Economics