Re: Online Self-Archiving: Distinguishing the Optimal from the Optional

From: Tim Brody <>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 16:42:39 -0000

(I hope you'll excuse my correction, but might save others some
Google-search time to find the correct URL :-)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Andrew Odlyzko" <odlyzko_at_DTC.UMN.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2002 1:30 PM
Subject: Re: Online Self-Archiving: Distinguishing the Optimal from the Optional

> > On Wed Dec 11, Arthur P. Smith wrote:
> (snip)
> Going back to my original question - does anybody have any numbers that
> might corroborate or refute the assertion that the cause of the
> crisis" is the increase in world-wide research funding, and
> (at least for physics) the increase outside the US? Is there some clear
> measure of total publication expense relative to research dollars that
> could be looked at? I'd be interested in seeing numbers, both for
> physics and other fields.
> Arthur
> At a certain level, the "serials crisis" is definitely caused by
> an increase in the volume of publications (which in turn is closely
> correlated to the increase in the number of researchers). Since
> 1950, these numbers have gone up approximately 10-fold. (There
> is a lot of data on this subject. I am traveling right now and
> have limited access to email and to my data collections, but I do
> present some statistics in my 1994 paper "Tragic loss or good
> riddance? The impending demise of traditional scholarly journals,"
> available at <>.)
> However, the decline in the US share of worldwide research (and
> publications) has not been dramatic. US alone had close to a
> 10-fold growth in its R&D establishment and publications.
> There is also data showing that publication expenses have gone
> down as a fraction of total R&D expenditures. (One can look
> at the ARL statistics, for example, and compare them to the
> figures compiled by NSF for total federal research funding, say,
> both easily available online.) The issue is how to interpret
> that. Here is a quote from "Tragic loss or good riddance ...":
> University libraries have already lost some of their importance.
> Spending on libraries has been increasing rapidly, much faster than
> inflation. Still, Albert Henderson has pointed out that over the last
> 25 years, the fraction of budgets of research universities in the US
> that are devoted to libraries has declined from 6% to 3%. One could
> therefore argue that everything would be fine with scholarly
> publishing if only libraries regained their "rightful share" of
> university budgets. My opinion is that this is unrealistic, and that
> the decline in the relative share of resources devoted to libraries
> resulted from their decreasing importance. The increasing
> availability of phone, fax, email, interlibrary loan, and other
> methods of obtaining information, and the inability of any single
> library to satisfy scholars' needs, may mean that scholars do not need
> the library as much, and as a result do not fight for it. In the best
> of all possible worlds, there would be resources to acquire
> everything, but in practice, choices have to be made, and at some
> level in the university power structure, libraries compete for money
> with faculty salaries, student scholarships, and so on. That
> libraries have been losing this competition probably means that they
> have already lost some of their constituency, and will have to change.
> Andrew
Received on Wed Dec 11 2002 - 16:42:39 GMT

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