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Re: Monopolies in publishing

I have a long running conversation/argument with David and it is not about
lots of his thesis below. As usual his analysis is both clear and cogent.
However I want to take issue with one point. Journals that have a small
constituency ("low demand") and which have a high price per page or per
article ("high cost") are not necessarily low quality. An article of
interest to a small group of specialists in a small sub-discipline and
without any general interest features is not unsuitable for publication if
the science is good and vigorous. Serious publishers spend a lot of time
on such journals and I am talking about for-profit and not-for-profit. I
have spent many hours trying to do my best for journals in malacology and
lichenology but I must say I did back away from dragonflies. These
journals were central to their small fields and needed proper publication.
I shall not define what I mean by proper publication. They were never
going to get much bigger or get more subscribers. There are of course
twigged journals, where the field becomes a branch or a tree. Journal of
Molecular Biology started as a little journal. Yes, I agree that there is
low quality material published in small journals but there are some big
ones too where editorial policies are not what they should be. I assume
that David is referring to such journals when he writes of "expensive and
low ranking". In my experience publishers now try much harder to increase
rejection rates and change the way the editors work in the case of such
journals and it is good that they should be encouraged by discriminating
librarians such as David. ----- Original Message ----- From: "David
Goodman" <dgoodman@phoenix.Princeton.EDU> To:
<liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu> Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2003 2:54 AM
Subject: RE: Monopolies in publishing

> Dean Anderson's view that consolidiation represents a decline is
> fortunately not necessarily the case. To a considerable extent, as
> jmcdonald@library.caltech.edu wrote:
>> The cessation of low quality journals produced by commercial publishers
>> is a good thing.  Authors still publishing in those journals were 
>> poorly served by the publishers in the first place and will seek other 
>> avenues where they can publish their research.
> it represents the solution. These journals cannot be making significant
> positive contributions to the cash flow of their publishers, as is obvious
> to anyone who will take a realistic guess of their true subscription
> figures. When there was no practical alternative, it was perhaps
> justifiable for them to be subsidized by the other titles, and by the few
> hundred research libraries then able to obtain a complete collection.
> Now publishers can return to their proper function. That function is not
> to disseminate all academically-produced material regardless of low demand
> or high cost, but to publish the material which is worth publishing. This
> can be roughly defined as the material that people wish to read enough to
> pay for. Those publishers who have such goals will do very well.
> (Let me parenthetically add that anyone who is convinced that all
> published material is worth publishing should find some expensive but low
> ranking journals in a subject they understand, and look at the articles
> themselves, and add some objective analysis by counting the citations to
> those articles.)
> However, Dean's approach to maintaining the journals that are worth
> maintaining is surely the right approach, in my opinion:
>> ... They know that price increases fuel further drops in
>> subscriptions and that unless this cycle is stopped, they'll be out of
>> business.... Publishers with a long-term view therefore have a strong
>> incentive to keep subscription prices stable. On the other hand,
>> publishers with a shorter term view may choose to simply milk the market
>> for all they can get before the market runs dry.
>> Dean H. Anderson
>> COR Health
>> http://www.corhealth.com