Re: Recent Comments by Albert Henderson

From: Albert Henderson <NobleStation_at_COMPUSERVE.COM>
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 17:58:23 -0400

on Sat, 16 Sep 2000 J Adrian Pickering <jap_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK> wrote:
> At 10:37 15/09/00 -0400, you wrote:
> >technology to "free" the scholarly literature. A modest way to begin
> >breaking down that resistance, I believe, might be the following: the
> >establishment by professional societies of servers that would make all the
> >conference papers produced at their meetings freely available electronically
> >to all who need them--and in a timely fashion! This would pre-empt the
> >present one year or more lag in the publication of conference papers in
> >print journals.
> Absolutely agree. The professional societies *are* supposed to be
> furthering their profession - that is their raison d'etre. I have always
> felt that learned publications belong in the hands of the profession they
> support. Personally, I'm not very sympathetic to commercial-publisher run
> journals. If the profession believe a particular major 'thread' of their
> activities requires learned communications then they should sponsor it.
> However, many professional bodies have slipped into bad habits (overseen by
> the professions themselves) where they have become dependent on the income
> generated by their publishing (and conference) activities. This is going to
> be very difficult to reverse.

        Starting with Thorsten Veblen's THE HIGHER LEARNING IN
        AMERICA (1918) and perhaps earlier, the criticism of
        universities putting financial interests first has been
        accurately leveled. Veblen wrote, "it comes as a matter of
        course to rate the university in terms of investment and
        turnover." Financial reports showing an average after-tax
        profit of 25 per cent of revenue reported by U.S. research
        universities help demonstrate this point. In addition to
        huge profits by institutions with major research sponsorships,
        we found that by cutting library spending over the last 20
        years, higher education institutions increased their profits
        by roughly the same amount. You can inspect these data at:


        Now it is clear that the provosts and backoffice gnomes
        are greeneyed over publishers' income, whether it be
        the shareholder profits of commercial publishers or
        retained surpluses of associations.

        The once collegial community of research is falling apart
        over money squabbles. Not the researchers, of course.
        The managers are responsible. Or better, "irresponsible!"

        What happened to quality and productivity in research and


Albert Henderson

Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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