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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: January ::
Price of Academic Journals
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0006  Thursday, 4 January 2007

[1] 	From: 	Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 3 Jan 2007 14:01:24 -0600
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals

[2] 	From: 	Norman D. Hinton <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 03 Jan 2007 14:22:17 -0600
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals

[3] 	From: 	Marcia Eppich-Harris <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 03 Jan 2007 16:04:50 -0800
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals

[4] 	From: 	Harry Connors <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 04 Jan 2007 02:06:04 +0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 3 Jan 2007 14:01:24 -0600
Subject: 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals

Julia Griffin, justifying English faculty for forcing students to buy 
new anthologies because the old ones are out of print, writes, "If he 
[Connor] has a solution to the problem, other than giving up on 
anthologies altogether, I would be delighted to hear it."

I, in fact, gave up on anthologies, especially the big, fat ones like 
the Nortons, some time ago. For Brit Lit Survey, I have downloaded 
everything I use except the longest works, and done my own editing and 
glossing. Many of the longer works (Shakespeare in Part I, Dickens in 
Part II, et al.) exist in very inexpensive bound volumes, and these I do 
require.

20th century material covered by copyright is another matter, so I don't 
include as much after "The Waste Land" as I might.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Norman D. Hinton <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 03 Jan 2007 14:22:17 -0600
Subject: 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals

 >For a peer-reviewed journal (the only ones worth discussing),
 >do the members of the editorial board and the article reviewers
 >get some kind of stipend? If so, how much?

I have been a "peer reviewer" for scholarly journals in my field for 
many years (I have a journal article on my desk right now to review)  -- 
I have never received a single penny in payment -- not even a free copy 
of the journal. It's part of one's professional duty.

Nor do I know any editors of such journals who are paid -- in some 
cases, their Universities give them a slightly reduced teaching load in 
compensation.  But not every journal editor is so lucky.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Marcia Eppich-Harris <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 03 Jan 2007 16:04:50 -0800
Subject: 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals

I worked for a scholarly journal for three years as the editorial 
assistant, and I can give a little insight to how much it costs to run a 
scholarly journal, but not a complete picture. The journal had a 
subscription base of about 700. Of that, only about 10% were individuals 
and the rest were institutions. The journal is a quarterly, and the 
subscription rate is 25 dollars for individuals, 35 for institutions, 
and 40 for international subscriptions. So the claim that journals are 
charging substantially higher prices to institutions isn't always the 
case-it wasn't for us, anyway, unless you consider 10 dollar's 
difference to be substantial.

The journal is funded in part by my university and had a staff of three 
people: the editor, editorial assistant, and a student assistant. We 
also had volunteer readers from across the university. I don't know what 
compensation the editor received for his job, but I can tell you that I 
was given a full tuition assistantship with a stipend of 12,000 dollars. 
The student assistant was paid 6.50 an hour and worked about 10 hours a 
week.  The cost of printing the journal varied depending on its length. 
We occasionally did special issues that ran much longer than the usual 
4-article issue. The shorter issues were about 4000 dollars to print, 
and the longer ones were about 5000. Mailing cost a couple hundred 
dollars per quarter.

If you average the subscription rate at about 35 dollars, that would 
make the subscription "profit" about 24500 dollars, which would only 
just cover the printing cost of the journal-not the editor's salary, the 
editorial assistant, or the student assistant, nor supplies, etc. 
However, the journal survives through the grants of the university and 
the very frugal budgeting of the editor. There are a lot of hidden costs 
in this sort of thing too- buying computers (needed to be updated at 
least every five years or sooner), software, artwork subsidy, and cost 
of production, which we were able to streamline by formatting the 
journal ourselves in Quark Express, but for years, that cost was heavy 
because we had to pay the Public Relations graphics department to do it 
for us. Anyway, with all the extra expenses, etc, I would guess 
conservatively that the budget for even a smallish journal like the one 
I worked for would be about 40-50 thousand dollars a year, and that 
isn't making any profit. The scholars who contribute receive 2 
complimentary copies of the journal in which their work appears, and I 
think that's a pretty standard commission.

As for me, I very much enjoyed working for the journal. I was always 
reading something new and insightful about literature, even if it wasn't 
always about Shakespeare-though the editor actually had a Shakespearean 
bias while I worked there because he knew I liked reading those articles 
more than any others. For young scholars like myself, the scholarly 
journals are a very important way to read new, cutting edge material and 
help our own careers along too. I, personally, think the benefit 
outweighs the cost.

Best,
Marcia Eppich-Harris

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Harry Connors <
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Date: 		Thursday, 04 Jan 2007 02:06:04 +0000
Subject: 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0004 Price of Academic Journals

Whack a hornets' nest with a stick, and I ought to expect a reaction. 
I'll try to deal with a few of the comments.

I ought to be a good test case for the theory that those old texts are 
valuable. You see, I kept them. Not from the beginning, as a freshman I 
only kept texts in my major (which was not English), but by the end of 
my sophomore year I kept every text right through grad school. I bought 
good used texts when I could, but I didn't sell. So, out of all those 
texts that are still in my library, how many do I actually use--TWO! One 
is a text in the sub-discipline of my professional practice. It's out of 
date but has a few things that newer texts don't have. The point here is 
that the texts and books I use professionally aren't the ones I bought 
as a student. I could use them, I still have them, but they are badly 
out of date.

The other text I use is Shakespeare: The Complete Works edited by G.B. 
Harrison. My edition dates from 1968. It's old and beaten up, but it's 
an old friend. I bought it for an undergraduate upper division 
"Shakespeare" class. You might think this is an argument for keeping old 
texts, but it isn't. If I didn't have the Harrison, I'd buy something 
else with a sturdier binding.

Has the canon changed? A Funeral Elegy has come and gone. Debates over 
whether plays such as Two Noble Kinsmen, Edward II, or Edmund Ironside 
should be included in the canon are endless. But, if you are teaching a 
class such as the one I bought the Harrison for, would you really teach 
those plays? Maybe you don't want to teach the warhorses your students 
were taught in high school, but that leaves a lot of Shakespeare's best 
to teach. Now, if you are teaching a graduate seminar on Two Noble 
Kinsmen, fine, but are you going to make a complete works your text? 
Shakespeare's text hasn't changed and, while editors and funeral elegies 
come and go, you could still use that old Harrison text to teach the 
class I purchased it for. A good professor can add supplemental material 
if it is felt that a subject isn't covered in the old text. No, I'm not 
suggesting use of a 40 year old text (really, closer to 60). But, is a 1 
year old text all that better than a 5 or 10 year old text?

To paraphrase Everett Dirksen, a $100 here, a $100 there, pretty soon it 
adds up to real money. For some of your students $100 isn't a big deal. 
Others may miss a meal or two for a book. I was careful to note that not 
all professors are unmindful of the costs of books to their students. 
But, I also think some may pay lip service to holding down costs.

Are the textbook publishers truly not the same as the publishers of 
for-profit journals, or are they all subsidiaries of Tribune Corp?

I think Ms Griffin's response was the best. The publishers who bring out 
new editions to force turnover in textbook sales aren't going to keep 
old editions available. But, how different, in what matters, is the 
latest Norton from the Norton of 5 years ago? Would it be possible to 
permit students to use either? I ask this as a question. I don't know.

Harry Connors

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