A good simple piece on academic journals in The Conversation today.
I've not heard the idea of authors being charged high fees, but certainly readers are. I'm going to assume the reality is about the cost to access not the cost to be published.
Most interesting observation is the extent to which journal publishing has become centralised among a small number of publishing houses. Interestingly the electronic distribution model feeds this development. It is easy for a library to subscribe to journals that arrive in the mail and get shelved. It is far harder to implement the systems interconnection processes and associated financial models to allow electronic publishing.
Consequently electronic journals favour centralisation - unlike the standard theory of e-commerce.
The threat to the publishing houses comes from the fact that freed of any print need, an e-journal can become totally public access. However, they are still not free to produce - to be reputable they need editing and funding.
The article credits Joseph Stiglitz as identifying knowledge as a public good. What is missed in this is the role knowledge plays ion the "new growth theory". That is, that economic growth all comes from the spill-overs of R&D not its private capture.
A useful strategy for the Australian Government might just be to start funding on-line only, open access journals in a number of disciplines. Existing high profile Australian Journals could benefit from a new economic model. After all, what makes an article "sing" is the amount it is cited. To be cited it needs to be accessible.
Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est