Open Letter to Research Councils UK: Rebuttal of ALPSP Critique Albert Henderson 23 Aug 2005 13:07 UTC
Dear Serialst While sharing a vision of open access to information by researchers at no cost beyond belonging to a library, I believe that the behavior of university budget managers over the last 50 years contradicts the following claim: > The disastrous scenario predicted by ALPSP is that an RCUK mandate would cause > libraries to cancel subscriptions, which would in turn lead to the financial failure > of scholarly journals, and so to the collapse of the quality control and peer review > process that publishers manage. > > Not only are these claims unsubstantiated, but all the evidence to date > shows the reverse to be true: not only do journals thrive and co-exist alongside > author self-archiving, but they can actually benefit from it -- both in terms of > more citations and more subscriptions. The fact is that the four percent of academic libraries that control 40% of spending provide an economic base for the scientific record. As soon as plain paper photocopies became available and interlibrary borrowing became legal substitutes for paid subscriptions, these major research universities cut their library spending, systematically whittling it by more than half. One engineering school, Stevens Institute, bragged it had cut all subscriptions, intending to exist on loans. LSU turned down the same path. Not only have subscriptions been decimated, the viability of the scholarly monograph has been called into question. Perhaps the worst insult to libraries was the closing of its historic school of library science by Columbia University, on grounds of poor profitability. The claim of finance managers to have no money is simply bogus in very many cases. As a matter of public record, the profitability of all higher education institutions increased by roughly the same percentage as they saved by cuts to library spending, as reported to the US Department of Education (see upcoming AGAINST THE GRAIN). Albert Henderson Former Editor, PUBLISHING RESEARCH QUARTERLY 1994-2000 Contributor HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES. AN ENCYCLOPEDIA (ABC-CLIO 2002) <firstname.lastname@example.org> More reading: 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. 50,4:366-379. Online PDF version http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext?ID=55001184&PLACEBO=IE.pdf DOI 10.1002/(SICI)1097-4571(1999)50:4<366::AID-ASI15>3.0.CO;2-3 Day, Colin. 1999. The economics of publishing: the consequences of library and research copying. Journal of the American Society for Information Science. 50(14):1346-1349. . . . .