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Trouble with usage (Albert Henderson) Marcia Tuttle 08 Jul 1996 12:35 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 6 Jul 1996 01:39:51 EDT
From: Albert Henderson <70244.1532@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: Trouble with usage

 Dan Lester <DLESTER@BSU.IDBSU.EDU> writes:


>> Inadequate preparation is the primary cause of unproductive research.

> No argument. However, that is usually because folks are writing their
> grant proposals the night before they have to be faxed off, not because
> they didn't have TIME to do research. Of course they are working the same
> way they worked in grad school and undergrad school.  o-)

Actually, for many years scientists have called for more library research
that reviews and summarizes research activity and offers suggestions for
new lines of work. The amount of current research activity is vast -- 90%
of all scientists who have ever lived are alive today -- so this is a
bigger job than it has ever been. In the absence of such reviews, each
proposal writer must begin with a survey of the literature and produce a
summary of results, methods, theories, etc. Spitzer's review of the
literature on the treatment of whiplash took over 2 years, involved a
task-force with 34 scientists and doctors, and cost over $2 million --
without doing any new research. They rejected 80 percent of the articles
on scientific grounds. Now that their review has been published, other
researchers can more easily prepare good proposals that are likely to fly.


>> The academy has never asked for support appropriate for the use of its
>>  library collections -- which are heavily relied on by government, industry
>> and other off-campus researchers.

> This is nonsense. The librarians have fought for this for decades. Some
> higher administrators have supported us, and some have not. Such is life.

I take it back, in part. The Higher Education Act of 1965 Title II-A
(college library materials) provided money through 1981. It was not funded
thereafter and the 1992 amendments deleted this section based on
recommendations by American Library Association and Association of
Research Libraries. No association of scientists or scholars entered
testimony at the time.

The National Academy of Sciences recommended direct grants to libraries in 1969.

However, I see no sign that the "library" support currently paid as
indirect costs of research is anything but a slush fund for university
managers. In the 1991 revisions, after the scandals, it was spared the
demand (made for facilities) for certification that monies were actually
spent by the library. I would be very interested to have evidence which
university presidents or librarians asked to reform the rules and policies
for Federal support of the role of library collections in the preparation
of grant proposals and/or of public service.

> Also true that the library rarely sees direct income from research
> funding. I've fought for it. Others have fought for it. In one institution
> I made a strong case, supported by the faculty senate, for some of the
> research overhead funding to go to the library. Five percent of the
> overhead at that time and place was just over a million dollars a year.
> The VP for Finance of the university told me he'd give us the million a
> year, but that he'd also cut our budget from other sources by a million a
> year. [snip]

Exactly my point. This guy had no intention of going to bat for the
library users, even at the urging of the faculty senate. It was just a
game to him in which he always wins because he is tougher and he thinks
that he holds all the cards. He doesn't care about the quality of research
or instruction, so he doesn't belong.  Ask yourself who he reports to. Who
approves his raises, travel, office facilities, etc? Who can fire him? Get
rid of him. Maybe the next VP of Finance will be a little more sensitive
and helpful.

Best wishes, Al Henderson, Editor, PUBLISHING RESEARCH QUARTERLY