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Re: Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Critique of PRC Study

It's interesting to me that, for the most part, universities do try to make money of out of their research leading to patents but not out of the research that is protected by copyrights. So David is right with regard to copyright IP, whereas Joe is right with regard to patent IP. About 80 universities in this country do, of course, support their own publishing operations, mostly focused on humanities and social sciences rather than the sciences (but still about 20% of university press publishing overall is in the sciences). They most certainly do NOT treat these operations as fully commercial ventures, and indeed all but a few are subsidized to one degree or another.

So many universities, with respect to copyrighted research material at least, are indeed pursing the noble mission that David outlines. This is not to say that they should continue bearing the burden alone, however; way back in 1979 the National Enquiry into Scholarly Communication recommended that universities without presses help support the whole system by contributing subsidies for their faculty's publications by presses. Maybe the coming of Gold OA will help spread the sense that everyone must contribute to keep the system alive, but if narrowly applied to just author payments, the same imbalance could be repeated again, and even worsened, with all of those colleges with few or no researchers getting an entirely or almost entirely free ride (not to mention many businesses) because they wouldn't have to buy anything.

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State Press

Research universities do not exist for their own self-aggrandizement. Even for their beneficial effect upon their students is not the primary purpose, although such benefit is real. They exist in order to promote research, and are directly and indirectly funded for the purpose. Research is done not primarily for the benefit to the researcher, although this benefit is also real. Nor is it done for the benefit of the institution. It is done for the advancement of basic science and scholarship, in the expectation that this will bring material and intellectual benefit to society as a whole.

This has been true from even the beginnings: Lawyers and physicians and theologians were educated not so they would be rich, but for the perceived benefit to the security, well being, and values of the community. Today it is the same: an individual researcher may work for his personal intellectual satisfaction, but he is not supported for that end. Knowledge is attained so it may be published and used.

The rich institutions are rich so they may have the resources to do the research, to teach it, and to diffuse it, in the realisation that progress depends upon no one institution. The money they have is to be spent for these purposes. The cost for the effective publication of research is proportional the amount and quality of the research, and the grants and internal funding used for this can support the publishing as a necessary and in most fields relatively inexpensive part. From each according to its ability both to do, and to pay.

David Goodman, Ph.D., M.L.S.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joseph J. Esposito" <espositoj@gmail.com>
Date: Friday, May 18, 2007 6:33 pm
Subject: Re: Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Critique of PRC Study
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu

 The library budgets are funded by multiple sources.  Send a kid
 to college and see.

 It seems very hard to make the point that OA is not in the
 interest of research universities, but that is the critical
 point.  Phil Davis notes that 200 institutions produce 85% of
 all research.  Allowing for the reasonable objection that we
 need to know how that 85% figure was derived, it nonetheless
 seems to me that the intriguing question is what percentage the
 top 25 institutions produce.  It's going to be a big number.

 Why would the top 25 give this away?  They are all (with the
> exception of the 2-3 with endowments that would awe Croesus)
 struggling to finance their operations, and they are to give
 away these riches?  Why is it that McGraw-Hill and Thomson can
 make money with publications based on research, but the
 University of Illinois, Tufts, and the University of Michigan
 cannot (taking as my examples three outstanding institutions
 that nonetheless lack the cachet of a handful of others)?  The
 top research institutions should take control of their
 intellectual property and commercialize it, not for the good of
 the world but to benefit themselves.

 Consider the alternatives:  A university president could take a
 huge gift from a pharmaceutical company, a grant that comes
 with strings attached.  Or a donor could fund a new program,
 slowly nudging university research into areas that appeal to
 the fancies of the rich.  Shall we spend a moment on grants
 from the Department of Defense?

 Proprietary publishing, aka toll-access publishing, when placed
 in the hands of the universities themselves (where, it must be
 said, it absolutely does NOT currently reside), would provide a
 mechanism for funding research by distributing the costs to the
 users, the beneficiaries of that information. It would enable
 institutions to pursue their own research agendas.  And that is
 for the good of the world.

 Joe Esposito