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

I was not referring to employees when I used the term "editors" Colin. I meant academic journal editors. The word "editor" is so dangerous. I once had a Chinese visiting "student" who was amazed and puzzled by the fact that we use the same word for so many functions and the confusions that result - and here is just such a confusion.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Colin Steele" <Colin.Steele@anu.edu.au>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2007 11:52 PM
Subject: 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."