Re: Incentives

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 13:22:18 -0400

I'd add just one thing to this excellent posting:

The "house of cards" we are paying for includes refereeing as one of its minor
components, and the publishers are trying to make us believe that it is
necessary to pay for the whole structure in order to get peer review. They
know that academics value that service, and seem to think they are
tradition-bound to the extent that they can adopt no alternative way of doing it.

>From the comments of some academic faculty on this list and elsewhere, they
may be right. Many senior people have been so well served in their personal
career by the current
system that they have adopted the "I'm all right, Jack" position and see no
reason to change. I am therefore particularly pleased to note the recent
posting by Joshua Lederberg, demonstrating that some of them take account of
current and future generations of scientists as well. It restores my hope that
we can find effective allies among them.

John MacColl wrote:
> Stevan Harnad wrote:
> > increased impact made possible by free access; the other part would
> > come from Universities' mounting Open Archives, rewarding their
> > researchers for self-archiving in them, and even providing proxies
> > (students or digitial library staff) to do the first wave of
> > self-archiving for them:
> Some of the cost of establishing these archives might be met by universities
> diverting the additional cost currently being charged by journal publishers for
> access to the electronic equivalents.
> University libraries in the UK are currently negotiating with academic journal
> publishers for access to online journals. Typically, we are being asked to pay
> an additional price, which may be a percentage of what we pay for the print
> journals we take, and frequently that additional price gives access to the
> entire online journal corpus of a publisher. In certain deals, publishers
> promise to increase this new price by no more than a given percentage for
> inflation each year (normally at a rate still way above average inflation). We
> are advised that the premium for the electronic access is justifiable because
> we gain access, often, to a much larger number of journals (though the fact is
> that we probably don't want many of them). Some publishers now actively
> encourage us to cancel our print titles, provided that we continue to pay the
> publisher at a price which was set in the (passing) print era. Only very slight
> discounts are available for making such cancellations however (since the
> electronic equivalents are still available). This tactic is probably not
> surprising: cancelling print reduces a publisher's costs, but providing access
> to an electronic subset would be costlier for them than continuing to offer the
> entire corpus. Reducing their print/distribution costs while preserving
> customer revenue provides them with a win/win.
> Stevan once described print journal publishing as a 'house of cards'. It was
> easier to understand publishers' reasons, in a print-only world, for adding on
> more and more cost to this house as each new storey was added. The profit
> motive was in this case accompanied by increased real costs to the publisher of
> print and distribution. But in a world of ejournal publication, we are left
> with only a very naked profit motive behind the high and increasing charges,
> which makes the absurdity of universities buying back their own researchers'
> work clearer than ever. As I understand it, the 'subversive proposal' would
> result in print journals disappearing (eventually), the house of cards
> tumbling, and the cost tumbling commensurately - not quite to zero, of course,
> because publishing has costs which are not related to printing and
> distribution. What certain publishers are doing, however, is removing the house
> of cards, but leaving the price tag somehow hanging in the air, with a strategy
> for raising it each year despite the absence of the house! But the house has no
> cards, as the emperor has no clothes. We're being sold fresh air. We can't
> blame commercial publishers for behaving with commercial logic, but we can
> blame ourselves for becoming its victim.
> In the face of such a strategy from the commercial world, the Open Archiving
> initiative may be one of the few ways that we can begin to shift these costs in
> the opposite direction. If libraries were to revert to print-only
> subscriptions, saving their add-on cost for access to the e-corpus, that should
> realise a saving which could help establish open archives, run promotional and
> awareness campaigns with academic staff, pay for staff to do the necessary work
> of self-archiving, etc. That could ramp up the pressure on publishers to move
> to e-only publishing while *reducing* costs. To work, it would require
> libraries to begin to cut print subscriptions too, which would be painful. One
> way of easing the pain may be to switch to article delivery services as a
> substitute for less heavily used print journals.
> I feel that we librarians need to take concerted action now, because by signing
> up to deals like this we run the risk of all losing the battle.
> John
> ------------
> John MacColl
> Sub-Librarian, Online Services
> SELLIC Director
> Science & Engineering Library, Learning & Information Centre
> University of Edinburgh Tel: 0131 650 7275
> Darwin Library Mobile: 07808 170075
> The King's Buildings Fax: 0131 650 6702
> Edinburgh EH9 3JU
> ------------
> John MacColl
> Sub-Librarian, Online Services
> SELLIC Director
> Science & Engineering Library, Learning & Information Centre
> University of Edinburgh Tel: 0131 650 7275
> Darwin Library Mobile: 07808 170075
> The King's Buildings Fax: 0131 650 6702
> Edinburgh EH9 3JU

David Goodman
Biology Librarian, and
Co-Chair, Electronic Journals Task Force
Princeton University Library
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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