ALPSP Library Survey on Self-archiving and Journal Cancellation

From: Heather Morrison <heatherm_at_ELN.BC.CA>
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 09:03:08 -0800

>> Subject: Re: ALPSP library survey
>> Your "ALPSP Library Survey on Self-archiving and Journal
>> Cancellation" looks very interesting, and I look forward to the
>> information that it will bring out. (However, if librarians are only
>> a part of the cancellation process, I hope that the questionnaire
>> will be addressed to the academics and others who also share
>> responsibility for these decisions.)
>> I have an important question about the structure of the
>> questionnaire. Pages 2, 3, 4, 6 are qualified by statements "If you
>> think X is a cancellation factor..." whereas the delayed access
>> embargo question (page 5) has no such qualification (how short does
>> an embargo have to be before you feel that a separate subscription is
>> unnecessary). Embargoes are a contentious part of the Open Access
>> landscape at the moment, so it is unfortunate that the questionnaire
>> in its current form is simply begging the question it is apparently
>> attempting to answer.
I would concur with Les' opinion that this questionnaire is begging
the question it appears to attempt to answer.
For example, the question of whether libraries might consider
altering collection policies to reflect support for the scholarly
communication system, as opposed to traditional needs-based
purchasing, is not addressed here.
It should be. If library budgets are rethought (whether by
librarians, faculty, administration, or all of these working
together), this would address the concerns of the ALPSP here.
There are some indications that libraries are indeed thinking along
these lines. Examples include the Binghamton University upcoming
symposium: Budgeting Our Digital Future: Budgeting for Libraries
and Scholarly Communications, library publishing initiatives, and
library investigation of institutional repository costing.
A more objective survey approach would be to ask questions like:
Does your current collection policy allow financial support for
journals moving to an open access model?
If not, would you consider changing your policy?
There are at least two other major design flaws with this
1. The list of criteria for cancelling journals from which
libraries are to choose does not include what some would consider
the most important aspects for library purchase and cancellations
decisions: relevance to the university's research and teaching
needs, and quality. There is an opportunity to specify "other",
however this setup does appear to lead people to provide answers
other than the most common ones for collection decisions.
2. This appears to be an open web survey; respondents are self-
selected. This can easily lead to a biased sample in any field of
endeavour. In an area with strong feelings on opposite sides, this
seems particularly likely. I would hypothesize a strong tendency
for people sympathetic to the ALPSP view on OA to be more likely to
respond to this survey.
In my opinion, this is not the time for such a survey at any rate.
It makes more sense to give libraries time and information to
consider the question of how to ensure ongoing financial support to
our scholarly communications system in a transition time to open
access first, then find out through a survey which libraries would
be prepared to commit to different means of support. Given their
viewpoint on open access, the ALPSP is probably not the best group
to design such a survey, at least not on their own.
The current approach - timing the survey before people have time to
learn about think about the possibilities - is rather like giving
the final exam at the beginning of the term, rather than the end.
This may provide us with some interesting information, but it is
probably not the best approach to evaluating either the
university's teaching or the student's ability at graduation.
hope this helps,
Heather Morrison
E-LIS Editor, Canada
Received on Mon Jan 09 2006 - 20:19:18 GMT

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