March 14, 2001
Gina Psaki, Chair, University Library Committee
Crisis in commercial scholarly publishing and serials costs
The University Library Committee has identified the crisis in commercial
scholarly publishing as a top priority for consideration in AY 2000-2001.
We've put a memo on the Senate web site which describes this crisis, lays
out some possible local and national approaches to it, and requests that
the UO Senate address and either endorse or modify the recommendations
we make, below.
The problem is huge and complex, and extensive research and discussion
have already been dedicated to it by the research library community and
university faculties. Initiatives such as Open Archives, SPARC and Create
Change are aimed at reconfiguring the way scholarly research is disseminated
and acknowledged. An appendix to this memo contains links to URLs and bibliography
containing documentation and further information on this pressing issue.
During the past decade, due largely to the commercialization of scholarly
publishing, journal subscription costs have increased at an average of
9-11% per year. The UO faculty has been forced to identify journal titles
to cancel, with the result that we have cut 14% of our titles ($850,000
or 2400 titles since 1992). This amount represents two-and-a-half times
the average of research libraries nationwide, showing that the crisis is
acute at the UO and must be addressed now.
In addition, according to Acting University Librarian Deb Carver, "the
new funding model does not dedicate an increase to cover the costs of inflation
in books and journals;" calculating an 8.5% annual increase in journals
costs, "another cancellation project of approximately $400,000 will be
necessary in 2003/2004" even assuming an annual 4-5% increase in our budget.
So far we've reacted by simply cutting journal titles across all disciplines.
We can't keep doing this, and it hasn't helped so far. First, the commercial
publishers show no signs of moderating their journal price increases, and
the result of continuing to cut some serials in order to continue purchasing
others whose prices are predicted to increase by 8 8 *% per year,
would be to concentrate the library acquisitions budget in fewer and fewer
journals. Second, in some cases the cancellation of titles seems to have
accelerated the price increases. Finally, the journals most drastically
affected are in the sciences ($1.7 million of our annual $3 million annual
serials budget), yet all the disciplines have seen their journal titles
cut (the arts and humanities account for c. $280,000 of that $3 million).
The reason that commercial publishers have increased subscription prices
so dramatically is simple: they can. Certain journals have been considered
so essential for keeping up with the field, for tenure and promotion
credentials, etc. that the publishers have felt confident that no
matter what their cost, research libraries would be forced to buy them.
Academic institutions subsidize research, and then must purchase the very
same research at absurdly inflated prices. We have to address this problem
not only at the point of purchase, but also at the point of generation,
of this research.
The research library and academic community are beginning to respond
to this dynamic with a variety of approaches aimed at reforming the entire
system of scholarly publishing. Many of these approaches are listed and
endorsed below. The UO should be considering formal adoption of the Tempe
principles (see II.D for URL) which endorse alternatives to the current
scenario of scholarly publishing.
In consultation with the library administrators and subject specialists,
and library representatives from several UO departments, the ULC makes
the following recommendations to the university community:
A. Adopt a university-wide policy that all UO authors try, to the best
of their ability, to retain copyright on their own work, including at the
very minimum the right to:
1. distribute copies of their work to classes and to individual scientists
2. publish their work on their own web sites
3. post their work on a local UO archive
B. Immediately identify high-cost duplicate titles among the three research
libraries in OUS and establish target amounts for cancellation, in areas
in which cancellation would not harm present faculty research, with the
ultimate goal of substantially reducing duplication.
C. Educate individual faculty and graduate students to:
1. retain copyright on scholarly articles
2. discover the pricing practices of the journals with whom they collaborate
(as reviewer, as editorial board member, as author)
3. disassociate from those with unethical pricing structures
4. lobby professional societies to both put pressure on Elsevier and other
publishers of inordinately costly publications, and work collaboratively
with efforts such as SPARC in the development of lower-cost alternative
5. encourage professional societies, where applicable, to assume more responsibility
for publishing in their field
D. Begin a campus discussion about adopting the "Tempe
Principles," the Emerging Principles of Scholarly Publishing recently
developed with the support of the AAU and the Association of Research Libraries.
The principles provide a foundation for specific actions, such as those
outlined above. By adopting these guiding principles, the UO would become
part of a national effort to define new systems of scholarly publishing.
E. Ensure that promotion-and-tenure evaluation criteria favor this effort,
by holding faculty harmless for declining to publish in journals with pricing
structures detrimental to the free circulation of ideas.
III. Request to the UO Senate
The ULC invites the UO Senate to consult the extensive documentation on
this urgent problem, to discuss the ULC recommendations at its earliest
convenience, and to either endorse or modify the recommendations for referral
to the university administration.
2000-2001 ULC members: Gina Psaki (Chair), Romance Languages; Zena Ariola,
CIS; Rebecca Dorsey, Geological Sciences; Martha Bayless, English; Esther
Jacobson-Tepfer, Art History; Daniel Pope, History; Richard Sundt, Art
History; Michael Raymer, Physics; Paul Dassonville, Psychology; Marc Vanscheeuwijck,
Music History; Jennifer Greenough, student representative; Eric Bailey,
student representative; Deborah Carver (ex officio), Library; Sheila Gray
(Support Staff), Library
ULC Minutes 2000-2001
2000-2001 These minutes will link you to many of the following URLs
Web page spun on 14 March 2001 by
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