Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Mission of the STM Publisher: Scholarship - or Profit?

A number of publishers have signed the Brussells Declaration on STM Publishing today, claiming, among other things, that it is self-evident that The mission of publishers is to maximise the dissemination of knowledge through economically self-sustaining business models.

For many publishers, nonproft and for-profit alike, a genuine interest in scholarship is indeed an important part of the organization's mission. However, it is extremely misleading to claim that it is self-evident that this is the mission of publishers, as clearly many publishers have other key goals - such as profits. This is true of the commercial for-profit company for whom a key goal - if not the key goal - may be profits for shareholders. This is reflected in the Strategy and Vision of Reed Elsevier, who Since 2000, set ourselves a goal of achieving higher levels of revenues and earnings growth; the About Wiley page, which prominently displays Investing in Wiley, and Latest Corporate News - and nothing about scholarship, and the McGraw Hill Mission Statement - which has much to say about markets, growth, financial performance, and return to shareholders, along with a little about information and insight.

A number of not-for-profit publishers, as well, in open access discussions, have emphasized their reliance on profits for their publications, to fund other association programs.

Clearly, a statement that The mission of publishers is to maximise the dissemination of knowledge through economically self-sustaining business models - is not only not self-evident, it is glaringly inaccurate in not stating of of the key goals of many of the signatories, profit.

If this Declaration had been submitted for peer review - it should never have been published without revision.

For more information and links to the Brussells Declaration, see Open Access News.

Please note that this is not a thorough critique of the 10 principles of the Brussells Declaration. I'm still on the first one! This is a summary and conclusion of my three previous posts - for details, see the posts or follow the links in this post.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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