The increased institutional demand for all faculty to publish scholarly work, even for faculty in non-research institutions, has created a near perfect two-sided market effect for commercial entities to profit from the labor of already overburdened academics while offering little-to-no compensation to these individuals or their institutions. As significant, institutional-level pushback against the cost of access to scholarly materials has begun to coalesce, it seems prudent if not pressing to revisit once more the longstanding debates over labor, cost, and access in scholarly publishing and to argue for more ethical, equitable, and democratizing models. To that end, this essay 1) argues for the notion that all for-profit commercial academic publishing and distribution is predatory and perpetuates an unethical labor model in which commercial entities profit from free labor in the academy and 2) asks how the open source movement offers a model for more ethical, non-profit publishing practices. It concludes that making newly published work freely available in open repositories, whether run by individual or groups of colleges or universities, should function as only a first step towards rethinking the forms of journal article and book and the means by which they are produced.
Lehner, Edward and Ziegler, John R., "Free Information, Not Free Labor" (2019). CUNY Academic Works.