1. A professional librarian at McMaster University’s library complained, in a 2010 blog-post, that [Edwin] Mellen [Press] was a poor publisher with a weak list of low-quality books, scarcely edited, cheaply produced, but at exorbitant prices. Librarians are expert at making such judgments; that’s what universities pay them to do. And the post made a key point about the public interest: ‘in a time when libraries cannot purchase so much of the first-class scholarship, there is simply no reason to support such ventures.’

    No one likes bad reviews; but Mellen’s approach is not to disprove the assessment, pledge to improve its quality, or reconsider its business-model. It is to slam McMaster University and its librarian with a three million dollar lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court, alleging libel and claiming massive aggravated and exemplary damages. The matter is pending.

    — Edwin Mellen Press Suing a Librarian? | Academic Librarian: On Libraries, Rhetoric, Poetry, History, & Moral Philosophy (via thepinakes)

  2. What is crucial to understand is that academic publishing is not a free market. Researchers send papers to journals for free, because their jobs depend on it. Senior scientists don’t charge journals to review potential articles, thereby helping the editors to identify the best work, because that is a part of being an academic. Libraries have to subscribe, because the researchers they serve cannot work without access to the scholarly record. Academic publishers thus have a captive work force and a captive audience.


    From the same amazing Boston Globe piece, the quickest and clearest summary of academic publishing’s dysfunction I’ve ever seen. It is VITALLY IMPORTANT that everyone in the ecosystem understand these basic facts. (via arlpolicynotes)

    More on academic publishing.

  3. In 2010 Elsevier reported revenues of about $3.2 billion, of which a whopping 36 percent were profit.

    — A fantastic column in the Boston Globe explains how some academic publishers are getting filthy rich off work they expropriate from the academic community and then sell back to us at a premium. (via arlpolicynotes)

  4. JSTOR makes early content free →


    “JSTOR, an online system for archiving academic journals, has announced it is making journal content published prior to 1923 in the United States, and prior to 1870 elsewhere, freely available to the public for reading and downloading. This includes nearly 500,000 articles from more than 200 journals, representing approximately 6% of the total content on JSTOR. Making this content freely available is a first step in a larger effort to provide more access options to independent scholars and others without access to an institutional subscription….” (JSTOR, Sept. 6 ) [text via American Libraries Direct]