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RE: Post Brussels : Elsevier and Australian STM debate 'sprouts'

My hopefully still good friend Anthony Watkinson hasn't commented 
on most of the original points below, but I thought the debate on 
academic contributions to scholarship and payments had been 
touched upon in the emails on Liblicense in January, for example, 
see the debate stimulated by Peter Banks and Dr Andrew Adams and 
the now somewhat related parallel discussion currently being 
promulgated on the American Scientist list by Jan Velterop and 
others, "contempt for the scientist as author and communicator".

I was really commenting on the lack of Australian evidence of 
substantial remuneration to academics for their contributions to 
research publications, ranging from peer review through editorial 
board representation and even through to Editor-in-Chief of 
journals. I was not referring to paid employees of the publishing 
firms themselves.

These reflections were made on the basis of questions asked to a 
number of leading researchers over the years, including those at 
ANU, and also from a nationwide CAVAL tour last year when we were 
discussing the Australian RQF Framework with a range of 
academics, including PVCs and DVCs Research. Nowhere did it seem 
that Australian academics were being significantly remunerated, 
if at all, for the amount of work they were putting in to 
publishing across the Disciplines, including Social Sciences and 
Humanities. If there is evidence to the contrary, we would be 
happy to have it cited, eg regarding office space, administrative 
support, consultancy fees, etc that is paid for by the publisher, 
etc. Sandy Thatcher has just indicated to the list that Penn 
State don't.

Two anecdotal comments. Meeting with a senior executive of one of 
the top six multinationals in Canberra a couple of years ago (not 
Elsevier) he saw one of his Editors across the room and mentioned 
his connection with the publishing firm. I asked the executive 
how much the editor received and he said "Nothing, if we did we 
would have to raise subscription prices".

Secondly, a major ANU academic in the Humanities was asked to 
review a 600 page book manuscript for a major American University 
Press. I asked him how much time this took and he said two weeks 
of my annual leave. Next question was, what remuneration did you 
get and he said, the fee then (in 2005) was 250 US dollars or 
$400 worth of press books. He said "of course I took the press 
books". I then said "for two weeks work?". Similar figures had 
been quoted a major UK academic press but again, its better to 
have the remuneration available if possible. I don't think 
academics generally mind?

In relation to my initial EPS quote, I note that at least I am in 
good/bad company (depending on one's view point) given the 
Association of Research Libraries make similar comments in their 
'Issue Brief on Wiley's acquisition of Blackwell', February 26, 
2007. (http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/issue_brief_wiley_blackwell.pdf) 

"This document briefly outlines the growing dysfunction in the 
journal market resulting from the exercise of market power by an 
ever-shrinking group of large commercial publishers.

This planned consolidation within an already concentrated market 
immediately raised concerns within the library community.

Libraries have observed significant dysfunctions in the scholarly 
journal market place for some time.

Costs for resources continue the trend of past decades in rising 
well in excess of background inflation. Numerous studies have 
documented that journals from the largest commercial publishers 
cost many times more than comparable journals from not-for-profit 
publishers. In addition, prices rise more rapidly following large 

A spiral of rising prices and ongoing market concentration 
squeezes out support for small society journals.

It is very difficult for other publishers to start new scholarly 
journals in the current marketplace.

The advent of electronic journal formats and large publisher 
bundles have increased the ability of merging companies to 
exercise market power to raise prices and direct compensatory 
cancellations onto other publishers' journals.

History shows that mergers of large journal publishers lead to 
price increases."



-----Original Message-----
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu]On Behalf Of Anthony Watkinson
Sent: Wednesday, 28 February 2007 11:21 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Post Brussels : Elsevier and Australian STM debate

I just want to comment on one aspect of this posting and ignore 
Colin's ill-informed financial suppositions about the incomes of 
the big players. I am sure that he can get a grant to trawl 
through the returns from the public companies concerned.

He and is friends ("a number of us in Australia") are almost 
certainly misinformed. If I was a journal editor would I tell 
Colin how much I earned? I would not.

I have never worked for Elsevier but I would be amazed if that 
company do not pay their editors and the editorial infrastructure 
well and at a rate rising considerably above inflation. My own 
experience of a publisher is along these lines. I have worked for 
Academic, OUP, and Chapman & Hall and I now work part-time for 
Blackwell - though I am not posting for them or from them. I know 
that all the editors whom I currently deal with get paid. My 
memory is that this is true of all the hundreds of journals I 
have published in the past.

I am certain that Elsevier is not different from these publishers 
and I would very surprised if Australia was different in this 
particular way.

I know that there are some self-published society journals where 
the editor is not paid by the society. I came across one example 
the other day. However this editor was supported by an impressive 
paid infrastructure and he agreed that his successor would have 
to be paid.

My own experience of publishing, which is rather greater than 
that of Colin (now I know a publisher), is that, whereas in the 
past editors could use the resources of their departments, this 
is usually no longer the case in most parts of the world and this 
adds considerably to editorial costs. There are other 
inflationary factors at work too. Because of the increased 
pressures of academic life to do research and publish the 
results, publishers are now frequently expected to "buy-out" 
consultancy time - at least in those disciplines where 
consultancy is a fact of life and a reward that supplements poor 
academic salaries.