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Archive for the ‘Academic publishers’ Category


Yesterday this interesting development which will have an impact on eBook delivery came across my inbox. Proquest certainly seem to be taking a very aggressive stance in acquiring academic e-resources.

ProQuest signs definitive agreement to acquire EBL

ProQuest has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ebook Library, which will significantly expand its e-book delivery and aggregation capabilities with libraries worldwide. The acquisition will further ProQuest’s goal of enhancing the research experience, enabling users to seamlessly discover content across multiple formats including books, journals, dissertations, newspapers, and video. ProQuest acquired e-book pioneer ebrary in January 2011 and plans to combine the strongest features of ebrary and EBL into a single, comprehensive e-book platform once finalized.

January 22, 2013 (ANN ARBOR, Mich.) – ProQuest, an information company central to global research, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ebook Library (EBL), which will significantly expand its e-book delivery and aggregation capabilities with libraries worldwide. The acquisition will further ProQuest’s goal of enhancing the research experience, enabling users to seamlessly discover content across multiple formats including books, journals, dissertations, newspapers, and video. ProQuest acquired e-book pioneer ebrary in January 2011 and plans to combine the strongest features of ebrary and EBL into a single, comprehensive e-book platform once finalized.

“EBL’s first-rate user experience, innovative business models, and acquisition tools are very complementary to ebrary,” said Kurt Sanford, ProQuest CEO. “These features will be combined with ebrary’s unmatched content selection, award-wining subscription service, and cutting edge, patent-protected core platform technology. The result will be an unparalleled e-book research platform that is connected to all of ProQuest’s products and services.” Founded in 2004 by Ebooks Corporation, EBL pioneered a wide range of new services in the library market, including the patented Non-Linear Lending (NLL) model, demand-driven acquisitions, short-term loans, and chapter-level purchases for reserve circulation and coursepacks. EBL offers more than 300,000 e-books from more than 500 publishers to libraries around the world and counts some of the world’s most prestigious academic and research institutions among its customers. Kari Paulson, EBL’s President, will join ProQuest to manage the combined e-book business unit and lead the effort to merge EBL and ebrary into one optimized platform. “From the beginning, EBL’s vision has been to advance research and knowledge through technology,” said Ms. Paulson. “I look forward to joining ProQuest and to have the opportunity to be part of an organization with the very same goal.”

Kari will report to Kevin Sayar, Senior Vice President, ProQuest Workflow Solutions, who said, “I have long respected what Kari has accomplished at EBL and I’m looking forward to working with her to push the boundaries of how e-books are provided to libraries and used by patrons.”

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For a long while now I have felt that the business model from the Academic Journal Publishers is wrong. It cheaply exploits the work of academics and then sells it back to them. With the growing Open Access movement I have been waiting to see when many Academics wake up and realise the power they have.

This morning a number of reports have come out that indicate that a tipping point may have been reached. Elsevier will be watching this with extreme worry, and so they should!

Elsevier’s Publishing Model Might be About to Go Up in Smoke

Academic publishing is a very good game indeed if you can manage to get into it. As the publisher the work is created at the expense of others, for free to you. There are no advances, no royalties, to pay. The editing, the checking, the decisions about whether to publish, these are all also done for free to you. And the market, that’s every college library in the world and they’re very price insensitive indeed.

Back when physical, paper, copies of the journals were an essential part of any scientists’ life the cost structure could, perhaps, be justified. It is expensive to typeset, proofread, complex texts and then print them in numbers of hundreds or perhaps low thousands. However, now that everything is moving/has moved online then the amounts charged for access to the journals seems less defensible. More like the exploitation of a monopoly position in fact.

No, there isn’t a monopoly on scientific journal publishing: but there is on the last 50 to 60 years’ worth of papers that have been published and are now copyright of said publisher. This is leveraged into the power to make college libraries pay eyewatering amounts for subscriptions.

There’s not much new about this analysis and investors in Reed Elsevier, the owners of Elsevier, either do or should know all of this.

However, there’s something happening that might change this, for Reed Elsevier shareholders, quite delightful position. That is, a revolt of the academics who provide both the papers and the readership.

A start was made by British mathematician Tim Gowers, in a blog post here. That wasn’t the very start, but it looks like one of those pebbles that starts the avalanche rather than the one that just tumbles down the hillside. And there’s a great deal to be said for a scientific post which references Spike Milligan‘s superb book, Adolf Hitler, My Part in his Downfall.

And yes there is a great deal to be said about a post that references Spike…

Elsevier — my part in its downfall

The Dutch publisher Elsevier publishes many of the world’s best known mathematics journals, including Advances in Mathematics, Comptes Rendus, Discrete Mathematics, The European Journal of Combinatorics, Historia Mathematica, Journal of Algebra, Journal of Approximation Theory, Journal of Combinatorics Series A, Journal of Functional Analysis, Journal of Geometry and Physics, Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications, Journal of Number Theory, Topology, and Topology and its Applications. For many years, it has also been heavily criticized for its business practices. Let me briefly summarize these criticisms.

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I certainly don’t think so and I am not the only one.

Dr Mike Taylor at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol wrote the following article in the Guardian:

Academic publishers have become the enemies of science

The US Research Works Act would allow publishers to line their pockets by locking publicly funded research behind paywalls.

This is the moment academic publishers gave up all pretence of being on the side of scientists. Their rhetoric has traditionally been of partnering with scientists, but the truth is that for some time now scientific publishers have been anti-science and anti-publication. The Research Works Act, introduced in the US Congress on 16 December, amounts to a declaration of war by the publishers.

The USA’s main funding agency for health-related research is the National Institutes of Health, with a $30bn annual budget. The NIH has a public access policy that says taxpayer-funded research must be freely accessible online. This means that members of the public, having paid once to have the research done, don’t have to pay for it again when they read it – a wholly reasonable policy, and one with enormous humanitarian implications because it means the results of medical research are made freely available around the world.

This has slipped through under the radar. I wasn’t even aware of it until yesterday until an email on a  list a subscribe to (thanks Danny Kingsley) came through my desk which included the following:

The Research Works Act (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.3699) is basically saying that publishers have intellectual property invested in work that they publish, so that the NIH and other mandates making research available open access are illegal.

Peter Suber says of the Act:  “A new bill, The Research Works Act (H.R.3699), designed to roll back the NIH Public Access Policy and block the development of similar policies at other federal agencies, has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives….Essentially, the bill seeks to prohibit federal agencies from conditioning their grants to require that articles reporting on publicly funded research be made accessible to the public online. Supporters of public access need to speak out against this proposed legislation.”

Arthur Sale said in a post to GOAL: “There is one aspect of the proposed Act HR3699 that is very interesting. It is an admission by the publishers involved that they do not at present have any intrinsic intellectual property right to control the disposition of the Version of Record  otherwise known as the ‘publisher’s pdf’. The Act is an attempt to create a new right. You should read the full proposed Act (see Note 4). It is absurd, and badly drafted, perhaps deliberately to mislead.”

More on this can be found here:

  1. “Research Bought, Then Paid For”, Michael Eisen – New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/opinion/research-bought-then-paid-for.html?_r=1
  2. “Librarians, Open Access Advocates ‘Vehemently Oppose’ Research Works Act”, Michael Kealley, The Digital Shift – http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/01/publishing/librarians-open-access-advocates-vehemently-oppose-research-works-act/
  3. Elsevier-funded NY Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Wants to Deny Americans Access to Taxpayer Funded Research – Mike Eisen – http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=807
  4.  Trying to roll back the clock on Open Access: Research Works Act introduced – American Library Association – District Dispatch
  5. January 9 – http://www.districtdispatch.org/
  6. An example of one of the letters to Congress opposing the bill is Tim O’Reilly’s here: https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/hr3699/comment/263013
  7. Several AAP members have stated they do not want to have anything to do with the bill. Here are a couple of examples:
    1. Pennsylvania State University Press says No to Research Works Act – http://bit.ly/x9UzXE
    2. Peter Suber asks :” Can AAP Members stay neutral in the row over the Research Works Act?” http://poynder.blogspot.com/2012/01/can-aap-members-stay-neutral-in-row.html

 And on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23ResearchWorksAct

https://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23RWA

https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23stopRWA

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One of the really good things of my job is when we get to push new collections onto the NZETC. So here is a little plug promoting some of our new resources.

Three new collections on Elsdon Best, student media and Antarctic research

We are very pleased to announce three new collections:

Elsdon Best is widely known for his work as an ethnographer writing about Māori life and culture. This collection contains 15 of his works ranging from Māori Agriculture to Religion and the Māori concept of time. Some of Best’s works were originally published by the Dominion Museum, where Best was employed, as a part of the Dominion Museum Bulletin series.

The Hilltop Literary Paper is the first publication in our student magazine collection. Hilltop contains works from some well known New Zealand authors such as James K. Baxter and Charles Brasch. We also plan to make available:

  • The Spike
  • Arachne
  • SMAD

These magazines discuss student life from 1902 through to the 1950’s and cover important events and activities throughout each trimester, for example: capping ceremonies and social and sports events. Student reaction to world wide events, such as the world wars, is also discussed.

For over 50 years Victoria University of Wellington has been sending research expeditions to the Antarctic. The outcomes of these expeditions form the Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition (VUWAE) Reports collection. The aims of the expeditions were to research many aspects of the Antarctic environment including geology, glaciology, meteorology and biology.

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I read disturbing news in an article by Barbara Fister recently, that three academic publishers are in a lawsuit with Georgia State University over the right to share information.  Sage, Cambridge and Oxford University Press want their university clients to ‘ensure that their faculty, students, and staff will be “restrained from creating, reproducing, transmitting, selling, or in any manner distributing, or assisting, participating in, soliciting, encouraging, or facilitating the creation, reproduction, download, display, sale, or distribution in any manner of, copies, whether in hard copy format, digital or electronic computer files, or any other format, of any and all Works without permission.”‘  Read the full article here.

This draconian demand would mean that nothing could be copied or even displayed without the permission of the publishers.  As if academic publishers hadn’t got libraries over a barrel already over cost, they seem to want to go further and have complete control over research and scholarship, material which they didn’t even create.  This sets a dangerous precedent and we should all be worried.

But, as Barbara Fister says towards the end of the article this is the perfect time for open access to step in and take over and thumb the virtual nose at greedy corporations.  Let’s hope they lose the lawsuit.

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