Monday, March 28

Union acts to reverse drop in standards in academic publishing

In A bid to reverse the decline in editorial quality in academic publishing houses, the NUJ has called for all university dons and editorial boards to insist on traditional high British standards in all publishing contracts.

A public meeting, organised by NUJ Oxford Branch on Wednesday 16th March, heard that publishers who had outsourced all or part of the editorial process only ended up pushing extra work back onto the shoulders of the academics that they were supposed to be serving.

Peter Wrobel, former Managing Editor of Nature magazine, said that he had recently been contracted to train up copy editors in the Indian sub-continent - and quickly found that the English spoken in India was not the same as that spoken in the British Isles. He added that this often meant the extra work was pushed back onto over-worked British academics.

He noted: “Academic publishing is unusual in that the copy and peer reviews are free and the works are then sold back to higher education at very high prices. There are instances of each chapter given to a different copy editor. Publishers only offshore work because other firms are doing it”.

Oxford Branch Secretary Anna Wagstaff said that she had called the public meeting over concerns her members had over the drop in editorial standards in academic publishing. This was a major employer in the Oxford area. She told the packed meeting: “We want partnerships with university academics - and every head of department at Oxford and Brookes universities were invited.

Above is an extract from the report by Brother Chris Youett, who attended the meeting as a delegate of Birmingham & Coventry NUJ, his full report on the meeting, can be downloaded here . . . . .

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