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Disruption — Are We Seeing a New Type Emerging in Academic Publishing?
“Disruption” sounds sexy, like “Inception” sounds sexy. It also sounds harmless enough — there was a slight disruption at the back of the classroom

In a US News & World Report article from June (“Is the Academic Publishing Industry on the Verge of Disruption?”), the term is used to compare the “disruption” open access (OA) journals might have to academic publishers to how e-books are disrupting the book publishing industry.

But the disruption of e-books isn’t the same as what open access proponents are hoping their efforts will yield.

There are two phases of disruption as postulated by Clayton Christensen — disruptive technology and disruptive innovation. I wrote about these in a post in April. Disruptive technology is often just a harbinger of a disruptive innovation. But I want to refresh things a bit further.

A “disruptive technology” is one that usually preserves the output the market desires (good cars, good light, good journals, good books), but reshuffles the underlying value chain in such a way that some old players are sidelined and some new ones emerge. In our world, online is a disruptive technology for printers, not for publishers. Some printers have left the field, and platform providers have entered. Because technology is very frequently sustaining, even as it drives change, one could argue persuasively that online has been a sustaining technology for academic publishers — preserving its core functions while actually making it more efficient and effective.

Complete article here.