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Complicity of academic editors and authors

In addition to the academic editors who do not show an awareness of the
effect of their actions on the overall network, there is similar behavior
on the part of the authors. I have seen many authors willing to publish in
any source whatsoever, whether or not anyone subscribes. This is not
merely people desperate for tenure, but sometimes quite senior people, who
will have enough minor work in process in their group to be able to send a
paper anywhere they are asked. We thus have such anomolies as new journal
in important academic fields already served by many excellent journals,
with enough papers from respectable laboratories for several issues a
year, and yet only one or two academic libraries in the US subscribe. I
have had several faculty members from the departments I serve come to me
for copies of their recently published articles only to find that not only
does Princeton not subscribe, but neither does anyone else.  One of our
educational roles as librarians should be educating these researchers. I
hope that recent well-publicised discussions of e-biosci and similar
projects may be serving to increase their level of awarenss.

anthony.watkinson wrote:

> 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.

David Goodman 
Biology Librarian, Princeton University Library 
dgoodman@princeton.edu         http://www.princeton.edu/~biolib/
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627