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RE: Post Brussels : Elsevier and Australian STM debate 'sprouts'
- To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: RE: Post Brussels : Elsevier and Australian STM debate 'sprouts'
- From: "Colin Steele" <Colin.Steele@anu.edu.au>
- Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2007 18:52:53 EST
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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) Excerpt: "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 acquisitions. 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." ********** Colin -----Original Message----- [mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of Anthony Watkinson Sent: Wednesday, 28 February 2007 11:21 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Post Brussels : Elsevier and Australian STM debate 'sprouts' 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. Anthony
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