Continuing the spate of renewed enthusiasm for diagnosing the mess we are in, here is a fantastic article by David Rosenthal, currently at Stanford library. It’s part of a workshop on “The Future of Research Communication” for which he was asked to diagnose what’s wrong. It’s cogent and complete in the form it currently takes, I look forward to the report.
Just a few nuggets to get your outrage on:
- Rosenthal clearly diagnoses one of the problems with the “bundling” strategy (i.e. giving deep discounts for buying multiple titles, instead of choosing what is needed by a given institutions) that large and small publishers have aggressively pursued. His suggestion is that it is responsible for the dilution of quality, and the proliferation of outlets that might otherwise starve for lack of interest.
In terms of peer review, which is done primarily by the same conscientious people over and over again (you’re welcome): “In 2008, a Research Information Network report estimated that the unpaid non-cash costs of peer review, undertaken in the main by academics, is £1.9 billion globally each year.”
Wiley-Blackwell’s 2010 results show their academic publishing division had revenues of $987M and pre-tax profit of $405M, a gross margin of 41%. The parent company’s tax rate is 31%. On the same assumption the net profit is $280M; 28 cents of every dollar of subscription goes directly to Wiley’s shareholders.
There is much more to make you weep…