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Re: Open Letter to Research Councils UK: Rebuttal of ALPSP Critique Albert Henderson 30 Aug 2005 17:09 UTC

on 24 Aug 2005 Dan Lester <> wrote:

> Tuesday, August 23, 2005, 6:46:20 PM, you wrote:

> AH>         LSU's financial achievements as a
> AH> 		'research
> AH>         university'were at the expense of:
> AH>         (A) the commons, since its strategy
> AH> 		caused
> AH>         subscription rates paid by other libraries
> AH>         to rise:
> AH>                 1. because remaining subscribers
> AH>                 had to share the burden,

> Well, even if there were as few as a hundred subscribers to the
> journal, and LSU dropped it, that would only increase the price one
> percent.  And somehow that doesn't explain the ten and more percent
> increase per year for a vast number of journals.
> AH>                 2. by generating increased numbers
> AH>                 of articles, adding to production.
> Well, I don't buy that at all.  Had the journals ever thought about
> being more selective instead of getting ever fatter, and spawning even
> more journals?  They could certainly consider it, starting in our own
> profession, which publishes significant amounts of crap.

	Editors in the physical sciences (PHYSICAL REVIEW,
	for example) would no more think of rejecting an
	acceptable paper than a university would consider
	turning down an acceptable grant.

	The number of articles has increased at about 5%
	per year for 350 years.  Add to that general
	inflation and the declining value of the dollar
	and you have the crux of reasonable justifications
	for the rise in subscription rates.

	The value of research grants (in constant dollars
	since 1950) has also grown at a similar pace.

	Why aren't science elibraries included -- or
	even considered -- by science budgets?

> AH>         (B) serious researchers who were forced to
> AH>         find articles through secondary
> AH> 		publications
> AH>         rather than browse each incoming issue --
> AH>         or to pay for their own subscriptions with
> AH>         grant monies.
> Any serious scholar uses "secondary publications", by which I assume
> you mean indexing and abstracting services.  No scholar could ever
> browse the current issues of every journal of potential interest. And
> of course now they can do so MUCH more easily by doing so online at
> the publishers' websites.

	In niche areas of research there are periodicals
	that are read or browsed cover-to-cover, as they
	arrive, by the few souls active in that area. For
	them, this input may increase the productivity of
	the grant money they are spending.

	H S White pointed out that library cancellations
	forced researchers to use grant money -- if they
	have it -- to purchase their own subscriptions.
	Dr Vamus [NIH] complained about this, apparently
	feeling it was a misuse of grant money.

	For my part, it's too bad these journals are not
	accessible through libraries to other researchers
	and students, as they would be had they not been

	Thanks for asking.

	Best wishes,

Albert Henderson