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Professor Michael Howlett kicked off the “Collaborative Research Postgraduate Students' Seminar Series” with its first seminar

“Collaborative Research Postgraduate Students' Seminar Series”, co-organised by the School of Graduate Studies, Lingnan University and the Education University of Hong Kong, launched the first seminar on 6 March 2024, featuring an engaging talk by Professor Michael Howlett of Simon Fraser University, Canada. The online seminar, titled"The View from the Inside: Some Notes on Academic Publishing in 2024", delved into the ongoing transition in the academic publishing industry, its implications, and the facing challenges.  


Prof. Howlett began by outlining the unique landscape of academic publishing, featuring high profitability, captive market, opacity due to peer review, its flawed status as an academic performance metric, and the current stress it is under due to various factors. 


Regarding profitability, Prof. Howlett emphasized academic publishing is very low cost and high demand, resulting in the ease of businesses entering the industry, and the consolidation of new smaller presses being swallowed by giants. One of the reasons for this high return is that very few people who ‘work’ for the publisher get paid.  As most things are now digital, there is no need to have printing, or store copies and mail them out. So, captive market and low costs make high profits.  


The seminar dove into the significant challenges being faced by the industry nowadays.  The digital challenge was discussed, with the ease of creating new journals through systems like OJS (Open Journal Systems) leading to concerns about quality control. The shift towards open-access publishing was identified as another challenge, particularly in terms of maintaining financial sustainability and quality. The emergence of predatory publishers including MDPI, Inderscience, Hindawi, or even fake journals also presents issues that the academic community needs to address. 


Prof. Howlett mentioned that academic publishing is completely opaque, as most people don’t know how journals operate except for some vague notions about ‘peer review’. Regarding this, Prof. Howlett introduced the publication process in practice in detail, and concluded this seminar with some warm notes for neophytes from inside.  


The “Collaborative Research Postgraduate Students' Seminar Series” will be continued on 13 March 2024, and we anticipate another enriching discussion. To learn more, please visit


seminar 1