The web, we all thought, was going to transform academic publishing. At the very least, it would make research far more accessible, lowering the cost and expanding the reach of publications. At most, it would fundamentally alter the nature of research itself, making it far more collaborative. In either case, though, academic publishing as we knew it was doomed.
Now, a decade later, as the web has fundamentally transformed so many areas of our lives, academic publishing is one area upon which its impact has been only modest at best. There are, it is true, a few open-access journals and many academics maintain blogs, but contrary to expectations, journal costs have soared and our writings remain perhaps less accessible, locked behind paywalls while libraries forgo buying print versions. While it is not difficult to understand why this has happened, a solution to it has been elusive.
Academics want their work to be widely accessible, but even more than that they want tenure, promotion, and raises. Most institutions base their evaluations on peer-reviewed publications, and they rely on the publishers themselves not only to disseminate research but also to maintain a credible peer-review system.