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RE: Elsevier and cancellations

RE: telling publishers about reasons for cancellations.

Anthony, I haven't been around quite as long as you have, but I can tell
you that written "reasons" for cancellation can turn around and bite the
librarian back.

I can't tell you how many times in the past publishers have gone back to
individual faculty to get that individual to "complain" about a
cancellation or cancellations.

Personally, I have experienced that--there is ALWAYS someone who will say,
no journal of "mine" ":theirs" "somebody's" should EVER be cancelled, and
by the way here's a few new ones you MUST add.

That doesn't mean the particular title being spoken for is something the
particular "defender" really cares about deeply.

A few years ago "Sourdough" was defended by a faculty member in Human
Ecology--working not unsurprisingly in food and nutrition. sounds
right..sure, must be important. .

I think the Alaska Library Association (which published Sourdough) would
have been surprised at where the defense came from.

So, nope, sorry, I don't believe in written explanations to publishers,
and seldom give verbal either. The WHOLE story of how a journal gets
cancelled is longer than they want to hear, and will only help many of
them not correct the problems with the journal, but figure out who to find
to put pressure on to "reinstate".

We all remember much too well the introduction of the vicious marketing
approach to faculty often with new journal introductions..if you want a
personal subscription at pennies on the dollar, your "institution" must
subscribe first.

been there, done that.

If publishers think they "deserve" explanations they need only look at
their own behaviours over the last twenty years to understand why they
don't get many.

And if they don't know that their particular title isn't quite as
important as the editor says, then they are not doing their own research.

You do remember british publishers back in the good old differential
pricing days saying to librarians, in the end, you have to have what we
publish. This was not necessarily because their stuff was so good.

It was because their marketing strategy was so bad.

Faculty have become MUCH more sophisticated in the last few years about
defending quality and selecting quality, in my experience. I seldom hear
faculty anymore defending second and third rate journals. They know, as
well as librarians know, there are objective criteria for evaluating the
importance and value of a title and are much more reluctant to come across
as second rate researchers by supporting second rate journals. If
anything, the last decade has seen an increase in senstitivity to quality
by teaching and research faculty in terms of the journals they want access
to. Publishers can thank themselves for that development too.

And in asort of contrarian way, I think we have to thank Gordon and Breach
for their lawsuits for contributing to general awareness of issues that
before were ignored.

The good old days of big names on the editorial board means we have to buy
it are about gone. peformance is the key, and it doesn't matter how trendy
the title or that they accept YOUR articles when the top journals don't.
So, faculty and librarians, again in my experience, are much more
sophisticated in terms of quality and value.

Package deals will put off the inevitable only a little while because the
in-depth education we've all had in jouirnals means we know how to
identify quality and recognize the high cost of second rate journals
(whether direct or in package deals, you know we also remember quite
clearly the "changing" packages of various publishers, a different package
and a new promotion every year... . What intial use of electronic package
deals can create is an opportunity for good journals in cognate and
support fields to be recognized. it's the really high quality cross over
or interdisciplinary journals that will become important, as librarians
and faculty alike realize that clinging to that journal that takes all
articles when all else fails, isn't really worth the candle.And as the
less important journals really are identified, pressure will rise
astronomically high on publishers to keep-and offer the good and quit
pushing the junk. there are too many things to do to continue to subside
poor quality titles with high value journals.

Chuck Hamaker
UnC Charlotte.

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	anthony.watkinson [SMTP:anthony.watkinson@BTinternet.com]
> Sent:	Thursday, August 19, 1999 8:56 AM
> To:	liblicense
> Subject:	Re: Elsevier and cancellations
> I have been a publisher in senior positions with three different large
> companies including one non-profit but have never worked for Elsevier and
> have certainly never approved some of their policies. I too have wondered
> why some consortia have been so keen to do deals for so many journals of
> specialist interest. However I cannot let these assumptions (paraded as
> statements of fact) go without comment.
> As far as I know ALL decisions about the content of journals are made by
> the academics who edit them. I have written hundreds of contracts with the
> editors of journals. These contracts (which I believe to be similar to
> those used by Elsevier) always assume that total control of what is
> accepted for the journal is in the hands of the editor except that most
> publishers now put in a rarely invoked clause giving them the right to
> refuse to publish an article accepted by the editor which they feel may
> contravene someones legal rights.
> OK - journals do accept conference proceedings. I am also not unaware of
> the practice of bulking out a journal that is not doing too well with such
> proceedings. However in all the cases I know, these conference proceedings
> are subject to editorial agreement and sometimes refereeing by the
> editorial structure. Quite often they are proffered by other academics who
> are actually organising the conference concerned rather than being sought
> out. There is great pressure in many disciplines (though not all) for
> conference papers to get into a refereed publication rather than just
> appear as a proceedings volume.
> Whatever the Elsevier policy is in the matter of conference proceedings
> (and I would be amazed if it is the same for all of their journals) the
> idea that they as a publisher can force such proceedings about the
> academics editing their journals shows just how out of touch some library
> pundits are.
> One additional point. As a publisher I tried very hard to get feedback
> from institutions who cancelled. Publishers sometimes do not want the
> journal to constantly increase in size because the policies of the editors
> are too lax and too many articles are being accepted. It is however
> difficult to prove that a journal is being cancelled BECAUSE the quality
> of the content is deteriorating. Very few librarians would reply to
> written or even telephoned requests and, if they did, they very rarely
> indeed would cite quality or (amazingly) even price as a reason for
> cancellations. The answer, when there was one, was almost always that
> research interests of faculty had changed. Please all librarians accept
> the recommendation in Bob Michaelson's last sentence. Such comments are
> taken seriously - at least by some companies.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Goodman <dgoodman@Princeton.EDU>
> To: liblicense <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
> Date: 18 August 1999 13:50
> Subject: Elsevier and cancellations
> >I am forwarding the following with the permission of the author, as I
> >think it is of general interest:
> >
> >Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 09:12:35 -0500
> >From: Robert Michaelson <rmichael@nwu.edu>
> >To: slapam-l@lists.yale.edu
> >Subject: Re: Elsevier & Cancellations
> >
> >A library's motive is to provide access to important scholarship.
> >Elsevier's motive is to make large profits. ScienceDirect is a device to
> >enable Elsevier to make such profits forever, since the libraries and
> >consortia foolish enough to buy into it have forever committed themselves
> >to supporting whatever Elsevier decides to publish, however overpriced,
> or
> >mediocre (or worse) in quality.  Certainly OhioLINK didn't make a
> >cost-benefit analysis of ScienceDirect before going with it and I very
> >much doubt that they have done so since then -- I believe the same thing
> >is true of every other ScienceDirect customer.
> >
> >For a great many years Elsevier (and, to be fair, many other for-profit
> >publishers) have extorted ever larger sums from academic libraries by the
> >simple device of adding-on extra volumes every year.  These add-ons often
> >include conference proceedings (unreferred or refereed to a very low
> >standard -- things that they couldn't sell to libraries as separate
> >pieces, but stick us with as part of our subscriptions); Festshrifts
> >(often composed of mediocre papers that embarass rather than honor the
> >subject of the Festschrift); and even basically worthless annual
> >bibliographies, which never get used.  It is not unknown for such
> >superfluous materials to make up on the order of half of the pages in a
> >year for a given journal! And yet by buying into everything, as
> >ScienceDirect (or for that matter IDEAL) customers do, those customers
> >give up any possiblity of influencing Elsevier (or Academic...) to stop
> >churning out this garbage at the libraries' expense.
> >
> >Naturally the Elseviers and Academics would have you believe that it is
> >crucial to provide electronic access to all of their journals -- and
> >indeed it is crucial, for them!  It is not, however, crucial for you or
> >for your institution.  You have the obligation to make a considered
> >judgement on which electronic titles you provide access to, just as you
> >have that obligation in considering which print titles to subscribe to or
> >cancel. If these publishers don't offer title-by-title choices at
> >reasonable surcharges for electronic access, then their titles will be
> >used and cited less frequently and will decline, perhaps (with luck) even
> >fold.
> >
> >So in response to Momota Ganguli I would say YES, it is ALWAYS a good
> idea
> >to consider cancelling Elsevier titles! We at Northwestern have cancelled
> >many of them, and none of those have been missed.  Naturally you will
> want
> >to plan your cancellations in a responsible manner: try to find out how
> >much a given title is used (browsed, checked out of the library, etc.),
> >how many of your own faculty publish in it or cite it, and perhaps what
> >the cost is per page (or per impact factor per page) compared with other
> >titles in the same general field. Talk with your faculty about it before
> >making your final selection of titles to be cancelled (and there are
> >probably publications from other publishers that you could cancel as
> well,
> >so don't ignore them just because they aren't from Elsevier). Finally, if
> >you have time it might not hurt to write to the publishers of the titles
> >you decide to cancel, explaining why you have decided that they aren't
> >worth your continuing support (remember, _we_ are the customers, _we_ are
> >the ones to decide what is a reasonable value for our money).
> >
> >Bob Michaelson
> >Northwestern University Library
> >rmichael@nwu.edu
> >--