Has anyone ever considered…
Asking existing (e.g.) Elsevier academic editors to take a ‘pledge’ to handle and review papers for ‘journal equivalents’; e.g.,
I agree to handle submissions, and send this out to reviewers who will review this as if it were an article submitted to Nature, and if it makes it through the peer review process it will be published on an open-access site with the certification “This paper has been peer reviewed and accepted as of equivalent quality to a paper published in Nature”.
… I imagine this as a way for some disciplines (like Economics) to transition away from our existing structure. Perhaps we should ultimately move to something like Arxiv.org, but this could be a step in the right direction. We know the ‘meaning’ of (e.g.) an publication in the Journal of International Economics as a signal of a certain quality. However, there is no reason we actually have to grant Elsevier the right to print this in a bound volume, limit access, and soak the public.
As you know, the journal publishers are charging universities billions for access to publications written, edited, formatted, reviewed, and compiled by academics (whom they do not pay, and even have the gall to charge submission fees to). They also impose large administrative costs, including complicated submission forms, and strict and often outdated typesetting requirements.