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CRIT-GEOG-FORUM  November 2007

CRIT-GEOG-FORUM November 2007

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Subject:

Re: Paying for academic journals

From:

Salvatore Engel-DiMauro <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Salvatore Engel-DiMauro <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 14 Nov 2007 14:13:35 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (237 lines)

Would it not be appropriate, then, as mentioned already in a different 
discussion, to have a moratorium on publishing? What is stopping such a 
strategy from being devised and implemented? The problem seems to return 
to the internal politics of academic institutions, as Bruce and others 
had indicated, and such institutions, like publishers, are also 
exploitative of education/research workers such as us. So, the problem 
has to be tackled in two fronts simultaneously. Or, really, one, the 
academic institutions, along with many of our peers (or the ones that 
become deans and other more powerful folks in the academic institutional 
hierarchy), who provide the pressure to publish. Once the pressure to 
publish is effectively relieved for the long-term, then publishers will 
be starved of the main sources for the commodities they sell. So, anyone 
for organising a moratorium? Or first devising how to go about doing it? 
I am not sure mainstream unions, for those that even have them, would 
support such a move. But it could be worth a try.

saed

A J Scott wrote:
> I want to add another critical point that does not appear to have been 
> mentioned in this discussion thus far. Despite their exorbitant 
> prices, academic journals (and their editors, I might add) rely 
> virtually without exception on a vast network of free labor. I am 
> referring here to the practice of sending out papers for review, and 
> sometimes re-review, to the reserve army of the professoriat. I have 
> no objection to doing the occasional review for journals that are part 
> of my everyday professional existence, but working as an unpaid helper 
> for large multinational publishing corporations strikes me as asking a 
> bit much -- and all the more so given the ever-proliferating requests 
> for reviewing services as the number of journals expands. Actually, 
> one might well argue that the recent over-production of academic 
> journals is fueled in large degree by the existence of this 
> all-too-readily exploitable labor force. Allen Scott.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>> Are we supposed to take this post seriously? The defense in support 
>> of commercial publishers taking exorbitant profits from scholarly 
>> journals seems to be a based on a number of rather problematic 
>> assertions:
>>
>>    1. they are capitalists, so we should expect them to exploit our
>>       labour and to do so on the back of state-subsidized research.
>>    2. that exploitation isn’t really as bad as we think.
>>    3. publishers ‘add value’, so, that makes such exploitation
>>       acceptable.
>>
>>
>> As my students would say... ‘whatever’.
>>
>> I particularly liked the link to “weasel’s manual of apologies for 
>> misbehavin monopolists”:
>>
>>     http://www.econ.ucsb.edu/%7Etedb/Journals/weasel.html
>>
>>
>> LDB
>> -- 
>> Lawrence D. Berg, D.Phil.
>> Canada Research Chair
>> The Centre for Social, Spatial & Economic Justice
>>
>> Community, Culture and Global Studies
>> University of British Columbia
>> 3333 University Way
>> Kelowna, BC, Canada, V1V 1V7
>> Voice: +1 250.807.9392, Fax: +1 250.807.8001
>> Email: [log in to unmask]
>> Skype: lawrenceberg
>> WEB: http://www.chrdi.org/ldb/index.html
>>
>> Editor:
>> ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies
>> http://www.acme-journal.org
>>
>> Co-Leader: BC Disabilities Health Research Network
>> http://www.dhrn.ca
>>
>>
>> On 11/14/07 2:39 AM, "Chris Pringle" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> > Since virtually all the contributions so far prompted by this 
>> thread have
>> > been entirely critical of the existing structure of the academic
>> > publishing world, and since some have specifically mentioned 
>> Elsevier and
>> > Political Geography, let me respond by offering a case for the defence.
>> >
>> > The first essential point to make is that publishers do make a
>> > contribution to the process, including but not limited to: funding the
>> > editorial offices that manage the review process, providing publishing
>> > services such as copyediting, and supplying and improving 
>> technological
>> > infrastructure and functionality that has revolutionised the academic
>> > world - ensuring the widespread dissemination and longstanding
>> > preservation of the scientific record.
>> >
>> > Given that publishers are making that contribution as a commercial
>> > undertaking, it is reasonable that they should expect some financial
>> > reward. The question of whether the financial reward Elsevier gets is
>> > reasonable is addressed in an article I published last year in
>> > Geoforum, "Price and value: A publisher's perspective". (You can 
>> find it
>> > by following the link at the end of this email.) I believe Elsevier 
>> gives
>> > excellent value for money.
>> >
>> > These days it is indeed easy to create an online journal and 
>> disseminate
>> > it publicly, with very little direct cost initially, albeit with 
>> limited
>> > functionality and haphazard discovery. Anyone who wants to spend 
>> the time
>> > and effort to edit one without either the financial support of a 
>> publisher
>> > or the sustained indulgence of their institution is welcome to do 
>> so (and
>> > many people do); once the initial enthusiasm wears off, either 
>> because of
>> > simple passage of time and the changing interests and obligations 
>> of the
>> > editors, or because success makes the task grow to inconveniently 
>> large
>> > proportions and turns a hobby into a chore, or they can't keep up with
>> > technological innovations, many will find themselves in the same 
>> situation
>> > as the editors of Antipode did, and discover that a publisher can 
>> indeed
>> > bring something useful to the party.
>> >
>> > As a publisher, I am confident that I do provide a valuable service 
>> to the
>> > fields I work in, that the publications I have created and managed 
>> perform
>> > important roles, and that most or all of them would not have 
>> existed and
>> > could not be sustained to their present high standard without the 
>> support
>> > and financial investment of Elsevier. Perhaps the most valuable 
>> function
>> > the various open access initiatives will serve is to provide 
>> competition
>> > to ensure that commercial publishers such as Elsevier have to keep 
>> on our
>> > mettle and continue to innovate and to provide ever better value 
>> for money.
>> >
>> > Having made my main point, I would like to address related issues 
>> raised
>> > by others on this thread: ownership of journals and abuse of copyright.
>> >
>> > Justus Uitermark wonders "what would happen if, say, the editorial 
>> board
>> > of Political Geography collectively decided to take its journal
>> > elsewhere". (In fact Political Geography, like most journals, is 
>> owned by
>> > its publisher, not by the board.) The answer is that there have been
>> > instances of editorial boards leaving en masse to start new 
>> journals; and
>> > that in those cases, the existing journals have carried on, without 
>> major
>> > harm, as far as I know, and certainly without being supplanted by 
>> the new
>> > rival.
>> >
>> > Justus and Deb both appear to advocate ignoring copyright 
>> restrictions,
>> > deliberately posting articles in breach of copyright, and 'liberating'
>> > back issues. I am curious as to whether their approval of breaching
>> > contractual agreements freely entered into, and thereby possibly 
>> depriving
>> > the target of the transgression of some income, would extend to other
>> > types of contract they might enter into, and in which case they 
>> might be
>> > on the receiving end?
>> >
>> > Sorry that this has ended up longer than I intended. I don't expect to
>> > sway many people on crit-geog-forum from an anti- to a pro-commercial-
>> > publisher position, and I certainly don't intend to get involved in
>> > protracted debate here. I just want you to understand that the 
>> issues here
>> > are possibly more complex and less black-and-white than they might 
>> seem,
>> > and that there is plenty that can be said in favour of the existing
>> > structure.
>> >
>> > Oh, and if you want a third party's view of my "Price and value" 
>> article,
>> > try here:
>> > http://www.econ.ucsb.edu/%7Etedb/Journals/weasel.html
>> >
>> > Chris
>> >
>> > Chris Pringle, MCILT
>> > Publisher - Geography, Planning, Development & Transport
>> > Elsevier
>> > Langford Lane
>> > Kidlington OX5 1GB
>> > United Kingdom
>> >
>> > Tel.: +44 (0)1865 843712
>> > Mobile: +44 (0)791 7781738
>> > Fax: +44 (0)1865 843951
>> > Email: [log in to unmask]
>> >
>> > www.elsevier.com/geography <http://www.elsevier.com/geography>
>> > www.elsevier.com/transportation 
>> <http://www.elsevier.com/transportation>
>> > www.elsevier.com/safety <http://www.elsevier.com/safety>
>
> Allen J. Scott,
> Distinguished Professor,
> UCLA,
> Los Angeles, CA., 90095.
>
> Tel.: 310 825-7344
> Fax: 310 206-5976
>

-- 
Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro
Department of Geography, SUNY New Paltz
1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, NY 12561
tel: 1/845/2572991, fax: 1/845/2572992
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

Senior Editor
Capitalism Nature Socialism: A Journal of Ecosocialism

Editor
ACME: An international e-journal for critical geographies
http://www.acme-journal.org/

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