[Taxacom] Monbiot editorial on academic publishing

Nadia Talent nadia.talent at utoronto.ca
Thu Sep 1 07:40:35 CDT 2011


Hi Donat,

Some of us are able to buy a yearly library subscription for a relatively small fee, for example a university that I graduated from charges alumni $135 for access to much (but not all) of their electronic collections (the Proquest 5000 database). For books, much of the library is open to anyone, paid for by tax payers (though borrowing books would cost money). The remaining library building (which has had security problems in the past) is also open to alumni for an annual $20 fee. Inter-library loan costs money at this institution, even for students and employees.

A Springer journal allows me to choose open access for one article for "US$ 3000/ EUR 2000". If I wanted to publish two such papers a year, that could break my budget, even in a situation where the library fees seemed tolerable.

So yes, there could be situations where the open access fee is impossible, but quite wide reading, with occasional appeals to authors for free copies of their papers, is manageable. The nickel-and-dime charges for the library might drive one crazy, but reading and citing could mostly continue.

Nadia

On 2011-08-31, at 22:05 , Donat Agosti wrote:

> " But a few people raise the problem that Nadia mentions (but then puts to
> the side) which is that self-funded researchers would be severely
> disadvantaged if the whole system went for the OA, pay-by-authors model. "
> 
> But aren't just these authors the most disadvantaged with the current model,
> where you have to pay to get access, or spend long hours and trips to the
> few libraries that provide access to all the journals needed for their own
> research. They could, better should, like the libraries, shift from paying
> subscriptions to pay for the publishing.  There is also a common
> misconception that open access = author pay. The current model is also not
> reader pays but library pays. Thus open access should also be institution
> (eg library, research funding) pays. That would be a better comparison.
> 
> Donat
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of iczn-em
> Sent: Wednesday, 31 August 2011 10:35 PM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Monbiot editorial on academic publishing
> 
> This opinion piece seems to have hit an unusual level of agreement in the
> bloggosphere
> (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/29/academic-publishers-mur
> doch-socialist ). Usually Monbiot is a lightning rod for controversy (he
> writes a lot about green issues and social justice, which pulls in the
> trolls), but unusually almost all of the 340-and-counting comments support
> his perspective. Everyone agrees that 36% year-on-year profit by Elsevier
> sounds like way too much, especially wrung out of content gifted to them.
> One commentator champions an e-only journal that is completely free for both
> authors and readers (but presumably the work put in to editing and
> formatting is done on some other employer's dime). But a few people raise
> the problem that Nadia mentions (but then puts to the side) which is that
> self-funded researchers would be severely disadvantaged if the whole system
> went for the OA, pay-by-authors model. Physics wouldn't suffer in that
> situation, but taxonomy would.
> 
> Below is a comment from the UK records management listserver that shines
> some light on the scale of the issue:
> 
> 'Yes, it was an excellent article that pulled no punches in a completely
> justified attack on the incarceration of publicly funded scholarship and
> research behind profiteering paywalls. As Monbiot says, "... monopolising a
> public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it
> is economic parasitism."
> 
> The scale of the unpaid labour extracted from academics in the peer-review
> process is also revealed in the recent House of Commons Science and
> Technology Committee Report on Peer review in scientific publications:
> 
>> In 2008, a Research Information Network report estimated that the 
>> unpaid
> non-cash costs of peer review, undertaken in the main by academics, is £1.9
> billion globally each year. In 2010, a report commissioned by JISC
> Collections brought together evidence from a number of studies. It concluded
> that it costs UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), in terms of staff
> time, between £110 million and £165 million per year for peer review and up
> to £30 million per year for the work done by editors and editorial boards.
> The BMJ Group pointed out that ³peer reviewers are rarely paid by
> publishers, and their work is often done out of hours² (Vol I, p.19).<
> http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmsctech/856/856.
> pdf
> 
> Clearly, an even better game than banking: not only is the gold of
> taxpayers' money transmuted into the lead of excessive corporate profits,
> but the system is beautifully designed so that the producers feel compelled
> to work on the product in their own time and without pay!'
> 
> 
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