Campus News - March 12, 2001
Scholarly communication issues studied by provost, library dean
By Carolyn Gonzales
Library deans and provosts from colleges and universities in the Big 12 Plus
Libraries Consortium gathered recently in Tempe, AZ, to discuss issues surrounding
scholarly communication. The aim of the conference was to identify the issues
skyrocketing journal prices, ownership of scholarly works produced by
those in academics who then, in turn, purchase back the information in the form
of journals, interdisciplinary research, the use of the digital environment
as a publishing tool and archival repository, and more.
The scholarly communication system is breaking down due to high journal
prices. We, in libraries, cant buy subscriptions or licensing agreements.
This prevents students and scholars from gaining access. The irony is that those
in academia are the ones who produce most new knowledge in the world. Professors
research and publishers publish and take the copyright. It should be better
owned by the academy, those entities producing the knowledge, says Dean
of the Libraries Robert Migneault.
Provost Brian Foster says that scholarly communication issues have been on
the agenda of AAU (American Association of Universities) deans and others for
some time and that implications surrounding scholarly productivity have a ripple
Promotion and tenure decisions are based, in part, on scholarly productivity,
says Foster, who adds that evaluations of grant proposals are also dependent
upon that kind of activity.
Foster says that a key question is, What is the function of scholarly
publishing? He says that those whose work is on the cutting edge in any
given field are generally privy to research and information well before it is
printed in a journal. As consumers of the information, these researchers
arent reliant upon the published journal, but graduate students and those
whose work is ancillary to the original work are reliant on the printed piece,
says Foster. We need to have a meeting at UNM with people from ARL [Association
of Research Libraries], Big 12 Plus, journal editors, presidents of professional
associations, our library people and others from the schools and colleges across
campus each with specialized expertise that they can bring to the discussion,
says Foster, who adds that technological advances make it possible to find solutions
to the communication crisis that werent available even just a few years
The deans and provosts agreed to the Tempe Principles, which provided, in part,
electronic access to scholarship with cost containment. Another principle stressed
that faculty evaluations should place greater emphasis on quality rather than
quantity in publishing to reduce proliferation of publications.
There are academic and policy issues as well as acquisition and library related issues at stake here, Foster says, adding that nationally and at UNM the provosts must work with the library deans to help address the issues.
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