Re: The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PHOENIX.PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 11:56:40 -0500

It may have cost $1000 to prepare an article for press in 1977.
Given that the editors and the reviewers services are free, and the
material is normally submitted in electronic form, how much should it cost
What does the publisher need to do in pre-press besides copy-edit?

This is not the same as asking what the publisher does actually do, it
terms of advertising, public relations, appearance at conventions, and
maintaining a main office, all of which are customary business functions
but whose necessity is what we are questioning.

 David Goodman, Princeton University Biology Library 609-258-3235

On Mon, 10 Dec 2001, Albert Henderson wrote:

> On Fri, 7 Dec 2001 Alan Story <> wrote:
> > On your second strand, breaking publishers' monopoly and the question of
> > assignment of copyright ( which as Stevan points out is
> > complementary).....and here speaking from the perspective of the UK. >
> ...
> > The "assignment as a condition of publication" contracts that publishers
> > require academic authors to sign are "unreasonable", defining "unreasonable"
> Such contracts are not at all unreasonable if you consider that
> the author asks the publisher to invest over $1000 (1977
> dollars) in average pre-press costs per article. (Distribution
> costs averaged an additional 9 cents.) The publisher provides
> to the author a recognition that is invaluable in establishing
> competence, intelligence, and even vision in the sense of being
> the first to 'publish' insightful ideas and discoveries.
> The reader should view such agreements as reasonable because
> the reader benefits by bona fides accorded 'published' claims
> that are locatable by browsing in credible sources.
> In short, these copyright transfer agreements, used by the
> publishers to secure their investments, are hardly
> 'unreasonable' in any sense of the word. They benefit the
> author and the reader as well as the publisher. Moreover,
> publishers have exploited the new technology for the benefit of
> authors and readers so that any qualified researcher does have
> free access through membership in a library. What is
> unreasonable is the proposition that the reader who relies
> exclusively on self-published 'archives' gets equal value.
> The implication that libraries need not provide
> services to students, faculty, and others because
> copies of articles can be obtained through labor-
> intensive efforts is far more 'unreasonable' than
> publishers' contracts with authors.
> > Not only is this a rather questionable business model for universities--- to
> > understate the absurdity of this situation --- for the production and
> > distribution of knowledge, but it also dramatically decreases access toand
> > use of that knowledge. And it is the signing of an "unreasonable" contract
> > that lies at the centre of this tangled and inequitable web of copyright
> > power relations and limitations on access.
> By 'business model' you must mean profitability.
> Yes, universities would be much more profitable if library
> spending were eliminated and the burden of dissemination were
> shifted entirely to authors and readers. The increased gap
> between spending on research and on libraries, 1970 to date,
> demonstrates the business plan: universities' interests in
> profits. It is only equaled by their disdain for the work
> product of research and the quality of education.
> It is not, as you claim, the copyright agreement that
> 'dramatically decreases access to and use of that knowledge.'
> It is that universities have cut library spending, canceled
> journal subscriptions, stopped buying books, and laid off
> librarians. The evidence of this is in 40 years of skyrocketing
> 'just too late' interlibrary photocopy and document delivery
> statistics. The evidence to support Harnad's utopian promises
> and your argumentative claims is nowhere to be found.
> Albert Henderson
> <>
> .
Received on Thu Dec 13 2001 - 17:39:46 GMT

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