Re: Interview with Derk Haank, CEO, Elsevier

From: Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMontreal.CA>
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2002 09:54:01 -0500

Private research universities do not dominate research. They only play an
important role in research, and this mainly in the US, not elsewhere. In
Europe, this is completely untrue.

Moreover, even US private universities depend heavily on public money to
carry on their research. NSF, DoD and the like feed MIT, Harvard , Stanford
et tutti quanti.

Finally, private US research universities are "not for profit organizations".

I would also like to point out that the "hoarding" rhetoric is out of
bound... Soap boxes are confined to Hyde Park!

Whether universities have more revenue than before is totally beside the
point as I do not see why this extra revenue should be automatically
allocated to buying over-priced journals from the Elseviers of the world. I
would rather see universities spend their money on research or scholarships.

Finally, where did you ever get the fact that universities have cut their
library spending in half?

The problem, Mr. Henderson, is that you come back and back with the same
faulty arguments over and over again, as if you were a soldier obeying some
kind of orders to stonewall whatever is stated on e-publishing lists that
does not conform to the business logic of large commercial publishers.
Haven't you noticed that this attitude has already discredited you in the
eyes of most of the readers of this list? This is perhaps the reason why you
responded to me personally and not to the whole list. As you can see, I am
responding to you with the whole list in attendance.

Jean-Claude Guédon

Le 2 Avril 2002 14:27, Albert Henderson a écrit :
> on 2 Apr 2002 jean.claude.guedon_at_UMontreal.CA wrote:
> > Let me respond in the body of the text below.
> >
> > Le 1 Avril 2002 09:58, Stevan Harnad a écrit :
> > > On Mon, 1 Apr 2002, Richard Poynder wrote:
> > > > interview... with Elsevier Science chairman Derk Haank...
> > > > in April's Information Today:
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> > > The interview is interesting and shows the Elsevier chairman to
> > > be very reasonable, open and well-intentioned.
> >
> > I would rather say that he is clever and tries to avoid direct
> > confrontation.
> >
> > > I think that this confirms yet again that it is and always has been a
> > > waste of time and energy to demonize and vilify publishers like
> > > Elsevier, who really are not any better or worse than any other
> > > company, but just happen to find themselves in an anomalous business,
> > > with large profits but an unusual confluence of interests, including
> > > conflicts of interest, in a radically changing technological setting.
> >
> > It seems to me that a company that is intent on maintaining as high a
> > profit rate as it can in the context of social transactions (information
> > largely produced by public money, given away by their authors, reviewed
> > freely by peers, and bought by libraries or research labs with largely
> > public money) has to face the fact that its legitimacy will be hotly
> > contested. I do believe that the intensense barrage if criticisms
> > levelled at Elsevier and other similar companies has something to do with
> > the Elsevier Chairman and his apparent reasonable stance...
> The 'profit motive' argument might have some
> standing if the private research universities that
> dominate sponsored research did not sport profits
> double those reported by Elsevier and other
> publishers. These universities have cut library
> spending by half in order to inflate their financial
> hoards. Moreover, universities have $1 billion
> in patent revenue now (which they did not have
> in 1980), resulting from sponsored research. They
> deprive library users of information generated by
> the rest of the world only because they have
> become skilled at academic 3-card Monte.
> Albert Henderson
> Pres., Chess Combination Inc.
> POB 2423 Bridgeport CT 06608-0423
> <>
Received on Wed Apr 03 2002 - 17:21:53 BST

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