Re: "Let Them Eat Cake..." (M. Antoinette)

From: Albert Henderson <>
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 21:25:45 +0100

    [Moderator's Note: Good manners dictate that I give
     Albert the last word, so here he has it. No rebuttal
     from me. But now let this really be the end of it. S.H.]

on 21 Aug 2001 Stevan Harnad <>
hoped for the last word:

> Albert Henderson's postings are so wide of the mark that they
> tend to answer themselves, by self-caricature. Lately they are
> also eliciting flaming, so I'm afraid I have to re-invoke cloture.

        Some university managers can't stand criticism
        especially when profits are threatened. However
        I have also received some very supportive private
        messages from others.

> (Apologies to those on the list who will keep getting the
> rejected postings anyway, because they have been added to Albert's
> blind CC list.)

        Stevan would like to preach only to the choir.
        But there is another point of view.

> On Tue, 21 Aug 2001, Albert Henderson wrote:
> =

> > I am against self-archiving as a substitute for
> > libraries, library collections, and librarians.
> > Every qualified researcher is (or can be) a member
> > of a major research library.
> =

> There are 2,000,000+ refereed articles published annually in 20,000+
> refereed journals. No library can (nor ever could, while we still
> reserve any resources at all for basic subsistence needs!) afford
> most of the 20K, and most can hardly afford any at all:
> =


        Let's be realistic. Not every journal in an ARL =

        library is refereed. I for one am hard pressed to =

        believe figures above, like 2MM refereed articles. =

        The National Science Board, for instance, =

        recognized about 80 thousand articles published =

        annually 1995-97. Whose figure is correct??

        Moreover, only if a university supported programs =

        in every speciality -- past present and future -- =

        would it need all the refereed journals in the =

        world. A reasonably comprehensive collection is =

        not beyond reach if spending on libraries keeps =

        pace with spending on R&D at ARL institutions.

        The core group of ARL libraries kept pace with the
        growth of R&D spending in the 1960s (and for 200
        years before) very nicely. University managers =

        stalled library spending growth after they apparently =

        convinced themselves that library photocopying could =

        replace some subscriptions. [Henderson, A. Journal of =

        the American Society for Information Science. =

        50:366-379. 1999] Stevan promises that "self-archiving"
        will eliminate library subscriptions once and for all.

> Albert Henderson's recommendation is worthy of Marie Antoinette.

        The trouble with "self-archiving" is that it =

        promises universities can eat cake and have it too. =

        Beware of false prophets...

> > Moreover, self-archiving opens the door to
> > a mess of unreviewed articles which many
> > readers are unable to evaluate in terms of
> > poor preparation, error, misconduct, and
> > fraud. Again, quality of research and
> > education will suffer.
> =

> See the earlier subject thread in this Forum on not confusing
> toll-gating with gate-keeping:
> =

> Albert thinks it is toll-gating (Subscription/License/Pay-Per-View,
> S/L/P) that is somehow mysteriously maintaining the quality of
> research, rather than the more obvious candidate: the gate-keeping of
> peer review.

        When universities shut the gate on library =

        subscriptions via the budget, the students =

        and research sponsors who have paid for =

        excellent resources are betrayed. The faculty =

        is undermined. Authors and referees lack
        essential resources.

        Publishers have been paid for their journals ever
        since Henry Oldenburg founded the Philosophical
        Transactions and put profits -- however meager --
        in his pocket.

> He also thinks that the Have-Nots who cannot afford the gate-tolls
> should not get the peer-reviewed results of the gate-keeping either,
> even if their authors self-archive them for free, because, who knows,
> some of those authors might have lied! Far better to be denied
> access to it all while Albert keeps campaigning for diverting more
> funds (from somewhere) to pay more tolls.

        I really don't know what "Have-Nots" Stevan
        has in mind. An impoverished research program
        loses its researchers to institutions with
        adequate resources. Journal subscriptions are
        probably the smallest expense. A university =

        that cannot afford a research library should
        stop pretending and do whatever it can do well. =

        "Diverting more funds" from profits would pay for
        decent libraries for U.S. research universities. =


        reports university income and expenditures as =

        recorded by the Internal Revenue Service. =

        Research university profits average between 20 =

        and 25 percent. I posted a table of recent =

        profits online along with library spending figures. =

        [SCIENCE 289:243 2000] The Chronicles' update on =

        profits can be found in the Nov 24, 2000, issue. =

        You will also find pretty good coverage of =

        Congressional earmarking and the huge financial =

        hoards called endowments in various issues of =

        the Chronicle.


> Meanwhile, "join" a "major research library" that can already afford
> the 20K+ -- except that, alas, not only is there not one such library
> for every "qualified" researcher on the planet to "join" but there
> exists not one such library at all: and there never will be, except
> should the click-through oligopoly dreamt of by some vendor-cartels
> come to pass, with the planet paying a global site-license for the 20K,=

> as dictated by the vendor-cartel, and at the expense of whatever other
> essential goods and services we would have to sacrifice to fund such
> folly.

        If a researcher is not connected to a library that =

        collects journals in his/her interest (possibly 1000 =

        journals, not 20K) then I would question whether that
        researcher and his/her program can be "qualified." =

> > Finally, your use of the term "give-away"
> > is mistaken and misleading -- a major
> > fallacy in this forum. Authors give nothing
> > away. Although they are not paid in cash,
> > authors exchange their reports for recognition
> > and dissemination by editors that they value.
> =

> Albert has been many times given the chance to explain what the causal
> connection is between the cash that is paid for the tolls to access the=

> refereed research that the author gives away (sic) for free and the
> recognition (impact) that the author gets from having researchers
> access that research. For the causality looks to be running in the
> exact opposite direction: Limit access to only those who can afford the=

> tolls and you limit recognition (impact) by exactly the same measure.
> Self-archiving can at last remedy this, but Albert is alas too
> committed to the defense of toll-gating to understand the real causal
> connection, and must instead simply repeat incoherent incantations like=

> the above one.
> =


        If Stevan's "give-away" premise were true, no author =

        would bother to submit articles, wait, respond to =

        referee comments, resubmit, wait some more, etc. They =

        would all simply post their articles in their =

        "self-archives" and not bother with editors. =

> This Forum really has to get back to substantive matters. I'm sure
> that, like Charlie Brown and Lucy's annual football, we will get drawn
> into all this yet again, but for the moment, I think we've had
> enough...

        I'll be back.

Albert Henderson
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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