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Re: Scholarly Publishing Principles -- Albert Henderson Stephen D. Clark 12 Jun 2000 18:33 UTC

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Scholarly Publishing Principles
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 14:06:35 -0400
From: Albert Henderson <>

on 8 Jun 2000 David Goodman <dgoodman@PHOENIX.PRINCETON.EDU> wrote:

> AH's view may have had some validity in  the era when we had no
> alternative to conventional print publication.

The "alternative" that set off the library crisis was the
photocopy. It was a poor alternative then as it is now,
with the average interlibrary borrowing reported by ARL
STILL exceeding two weeks and the fill rate around 85
percent, according to the latest ARL study. Most editors
want their submissions refereed in less time than that.
Authors are unable to meet standards calling for discussion
of the results of randomized clinical trials should "state
general interpretation of the data in light of the totality
of the available evidence" Nor can they prepare review
articles easily. If they cannot do that, then they probably
cannot prepare proposals for grants that meet such an
obvious standard. The National Science Board also suspects
U.S. authors of insularity, based on citation and co-
authorship patterns.

Having undermined research, peer review and authorship for
30 years in order to increase their profits by 3 points of
revenue, university managers, such as those meeting in
Kansas, can hardly complain about the quality of

Having pressed for increased sponsorship of R&D, they can
hardly complain about the quantity of publications and
prices exceeding the rise of the Consumer Price Index.

Having cut subscriptions, they can hardly complain about
prices forced to cover fixed costs with fewer sales units.

Having created a hostile market that stifles the entry
of new competition, the universities have little basis to
complain about mergers and acquisitions. The publishers
who remain are those with too much invested to quit.

The impoverishment of libraries shifted costs to
researchers and their sponsors without making any
allowance to fill the gap. Perhaps the most important of
new costs borne by researchers has been the reduction of
effectiveness in the laboratory and classroom as well as
in the library.

My point is that universities do not care about their
mission, and their efficacy. That makes them parasites
rather than partners in research and education. Rather
than take responsibility, the rapist blames the victim.

Not satisfied with merely cheating the taxpayer, the
AAU leadership decided to abuse their status and power
further with a plunge into white-collar crime. AAU
members already monopolize sponsored research in the
U.S.. They develop the managers who populate the
agencies that sponsor university research and presumably
regulate the awarding of $15 billion in grants; they make
sure that these officials have good jobs waiting when
they leave public service. With the Kansas principles
they have agreed to promote the publishing businesses
that they own in ways that Bill Gates might have devised
-- complete with claims like Gates' of acting in the
public interest. In particular, they plan to 'persuade'
authors on their payroll to choose their journals rather
than competitors and to handle their copyrights in a
manner that will defeat their competitors' interests.

Some competitors, by the way, were at the  meeting.
They became unwitting shills in the 3-card Monte
designed to defeat the power of learned associations
and the security of tenure. Unaware they were signing
this pact "with the blood of their members," so to
speak, naive representatives of American Mathematical
Society, American Chemical Society, American Institute
of Biological Sciences, American Association for the
Advancement of Sciences, Association of American
University Presses, American Speech-Language-Hearing
Association, American Historical Association, and
Association for Computing Machinery were probably lured
by the possibility of selling their books and
subscriptions. They were also probably unaware of David
Shulenberger's envy of association revenues. One of Mr.
Shulenberger's riper comments is on record:

        "I hypothesize that some non-profit scholarly
        societies have learned that they have something
        of great value to sell and are beginning rapidly
        to convert that value into greater financial
        support for their societies. I take little comfort
        in the fact that they have not yet gone so far
        as their profit-making brethren. I fear that if
        society members were now faced with the choice of
        raising dues or paring back their organizations
        human and physical infrastructure in order to make
        scholarly material more accessible to scholars,
        that they would choose to leave journal prices high."
        (ARL Proceedings 1998.

If the Internet, a photocopier, and a lobby were a
substitute for quality, any Babbitt university should rate
great scientists and rich research grants. That seems to be
the thrust of the Kansas solution.

Because Vannevar Bush charged universities with the
responsibility of conserving knowledge in SCIENCE -- THE
ENDLESS FRONTIER, I feel that those that let their libraries
sink into mediocrity should be disqualified to receive
research grants. Research money invested in projects not
thoroughly founded on prior research is probably wasted.

             *      *      *

There is a viable alternative to the present system.
If we wish to approach our vision of instant access to
knowledge that is relevant, reliable, and useful, we
must concentrate on the quality of knowledge -- not its
price.* We must emphasize information as the ingredient
of research that most influences productivity. It would
mean more systematic, intensive reviews of research as a
basis for allocating funds for new investigations. It
would mean more library research and better library
resources. It would mean that information services like
Medline would be required to cover the entire literature
rather than skimming. It would mean that library
collections would be assessed and accredited on their
service performance: their record of delivering what
patrons wanted when they wanted it.** It would mean that
the "library" component of research overhead would be
reformed to address the ways libraries are actually used
by researchers -- often in the preparation of proposals
-- rather than the cynical formula in use for many years.

The money is there, several times over, in the
financial reporting of the universities. The cries of
poverty by university managers are as phony as their
claims to excellence.

The technology will come along, as Andrew Odlyzko pointed
out long ago, thanks to investments aimed at pleasing
huge consumer audiences' enthusiasm for the silly and
the salacious. Recommendations from librarians and
provosts about where to submit important articles are
unlikely to have much effect unless there is some illegal
element of persuasion.

Thanks for asking.

Best wishes,

Albert Henderson

*See the special issue of ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY LIBRARIANSHIP 20 (Fall 1998) located at

**See my article on the Collection Failure Quotient in

-------------Forwarded Message-----------------

On Thu, 8 Jun 2000, Albert Henderson wrote:

> on 8 Jun 2000 Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland@LBORO.AC.UK> wrote:
> >
> > This looks interesting.    Fytton.
> >
> > >Date:         Wed, 7 Jun 2000 09:57:27 -0500
> > >Sender:       Open Lib/Info Sci Education Forum <JESSE@LISTSERV.UTK.EDU>
> > >From:         Susan Searing <searing@ALEXIA.LIS.UIUC.EDU>
> > >Subject:      Scholarly Publishing Principles (fwd)
> > >
> > >Messages to jESSE: [reply, or]
> > >         to Moderator: []
> > >         to Sender: [take e-mail address from message below]
> > >Info on jESSE: []
> > >-------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > >
> > >Not too long ago, this list discussed the cost of LIS journals and what
> > >actions, if any, LIS authors should take to counter the rising costs.
> > >The "Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing" addresses
> > >this issue head-on.
> > >
> > >The principles are at: <>
> > >
> > >An article about them in the _Chronicle of Higher Education_ is at:
> > ><>
> > >[subscriber password required]
> [snip]
> Letters to the Editor, Chronicle of Higher Education:
> Denise K. Magner's coverage of "Principles for Emerging Systems of
> Scholarly Publishing" (1) could have balanced this latest sortie
> in a decade-old propaganda campaign (2) with some dissenting
> sources. The new "pact" runs roughshod over long expressed pleas of
> academic senates, faculty, and researchers for library spending
> that keeps pace with the growth of research. (3) Lotka's Law of
> Productivity tells us that the number of papers published is
> immutably related to the number of scientists. (4) Unfortunately
> their contributions to knowledge are branded "excessive" by the
> Babbitts who bypass peer review when possible as they lobby for
> research grants. (5) Moreover, the weeping about costs is bogus.
> Spending on libraries has risen only half as fast as research
> revenues. (6) It could have, should have risen more. Guided by
> university administrators, Federal research grant policy
> purportedly includes "libraries" as an overhead factor. (7)
> Universities manufactured the library crisis. Their cuts of
> library spending and increasing R&D forced publishers to raise
> prices sharply to cover fixed costs with fewer sales units. The
> earliest subscription cancellations, of "duplicates" addressed
> to research offices, forced researchers to use grant money to
> buy publications. (8,9) It also forced publishers to ask authors
> for production subsidies. (10) It also increased university
> profits. Last year, the profits of private research
> universities averaged 25 percent "after taxes," according to
> IRS documents disclosed in the Chronicle. (11)
> Clearly, their obsession with financial goals has driven
> university managers beyond the pale. In their pursuit of
> financial "productivity," based largely on the mirage of
> photocopiers replacing publishers and library collections,
> they have forgotten that the cost-effectiveness of
> information is determined by better output rather than
> reduced spending. (12) As a former president of Columbia
> University once pointed out, "a government contract becomes
> virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity." (13) In
> this context, the so-called pact is clearly part of a strategy
> aimed at tenure and the power of learned associations in the
> war against faculty. (14)
> Sincerely,
> Albert Henderson
> Editor, Publishing Research Quarterly 1994-2000
> email:
> References and notes for editorial use.
> 1. Magner, Denise K. June 7, 2000. (Today's News) Academics
> and Industry Pact to Guide the Evolution of Scholarly Publishing.
> Chronicle of Higher Education.
> 2. Association of Research Libraries. 1989. Report of the ARL
> Serials Prices Project.  Washington DC, Association. Dated May,
> 1989.
> 3. Shapiro, James. Dec. 12, 1997. University libraries: the
> 7-per-cent solution. Chronicle of Higher Education. XLIV(16),
> B4-5.
> 4. Price, Derek J. de Solla. 1961. Science since Babylon.
> New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1961. enl. ed. 1975  p. 175.
> 5. Weiner, T.  August 24, 1999. Lobbying for Research Money,
> Colleges Bypass Peer Review. The New York Times. A1,A12.
> "Critics Say Politics Distorts Priorities of Science"
> 6.  Henderson, Albert. 1999. Information science and
> information policy. The use of constant dollars and other
> indicators to manage research investments. Journal of the
> American Society for Information Science. 50:366-379.
> 7. U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of
> Management and Budget. 1995. Principles for Determining
> Costs Applicable to Grants, Contracts, and Other
> Agreements with Educational Institutions. Circular A-21.
> Rev. June 20, 1995. Section F8 (Identification and
> assignment of indirect costs. Library expenses)
> 8.  White, H. S. 1980.  Factors in the Decision by
> Individuals And Libraries to Place or Cancel Subscriptions
> to Scholarly and Research Journals. Library Quarterly
> 50:287-309. Partial abstract: Using outside funds such as
> grants to purchase subscriptions was reported by 8 percent
> of 750 individuals. The cancellation of library
> subscriptions accounted for just over 1 percent of responses
> by individuals. Roughly 20 percent indicated they formerly
> used a library copy, but this had become impractical. The
> disappearance of outside funds, such as grants, accounted
> for cancellation of journals by near 7 percent of respondents.
> The number one reason for library cancellations was given as
> budget curtailments.
> 9. Campbell, Paulette Walker. May 7, 1999. NIH may use the
> Internet to distribute findings of research financed by its
> grants. Chronicle of Higher Education. 45(35):A33.  "N.I.H.
> Director Harold E. Varmus told lawmakers ... researchers spend
> hundreds of dollars of their N.I.H. awards on subscriptions to
> scientific journals."
> 10. National Enquiry into Scholarly Communication. 1979. Scholarly
> Communication. The Report. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University
> Press.
> 11. Chronicle of Higher Education. Nov. 26,1999. Pay and benefits.
> Research institutions  I & II, 1998. XLVI:A44ff
> 12. Machlup, Fritz. 1962. The Production and Distribution of
> Knowledge in the United States. Princeton: University Press.
> "'Productivity of R&D' thus comes to refer to the ultimate
> output increments (or input economies) in the areas in which
> the new knowledge, the  direct output of R&D, is applied."
> "...R&D expenditures are investment, and the incremental
> outputs (or economies) attributable to the application of the
> R&D findings are return." p. 188
> 13. Eisenhower, Dwight D. Jan. 17, 1961. Farewell Address.
> 14. Nelson, Cary. April 16, 1999. The war against faculty.
> Chronicle of Higher Education. 45(32):B4 "National disciplinary
> organizations must shift their focus from creating professional
> opportunities to active monitoring of the higher-education
> workplace."