Friday, January 05, 2007

Does this f---ing university actually want us to publish?

Greetings! If you reached this post from Inside Higher Ed, please take a look around. Browse my Posts of Substance (on the right). Look in my archives. Not all of my posts are bitch-and-moan sessions like this one. Cheers!

I had a co-authored paper accepted a while back (I'm second author) and we got the proofs the other day along with the page charges. My U has a process to obtain money to "cover" publication costs. We are limited to $500 per year. My co-author and I (in the same department) thought we could contribute $500 each to the charges for the paper (which are just over $1000). Our admin assistant checked to see whether we needed two forms and this is the email I just got from her:

I spoke w/[research office person] to check if we needed to do 2 applications or how it worked. S/he said that $500 is the maximum for the paper. S/he could split the $500 between the two of you and you both would have $250 left to use towards the next reprint or the total $500 could go towards one of you, and one of you would still have $500 to use. I've also spoken with [dept. chair] about where you're supposed to get the remaining $527. S/he said the department would support each of you for $200, which leaves $127. I've checked your contingency and grant overhead accounts and Addy has $100, and [co-author] has $50. So that will cover the total. How's that sound?

This pisses me off for several reasons.
  1. I have not used that alotted $500 every year (but apparently it's 'use it or lose it'),
  2. I am SECOND author on the paper, but since my co-author used up his/her contingency money last year on OTHER page charges (so s/he's being penalized for too many pubs??), I have more to spend,
  3. why the hell does the U have this $500 per paper limit? If we use our funds on one paper, that is our own problem,
  4. is it reasonable to limit our funds on required activities (including how our conference travel funds cover little more than REGISTRATION at this point),
  5. if our department can come up with $400, is another $127 really a hardship?
I am so angry right now- I have three conferences this semester and I will be paying at least part of my own expenses on every single one. Is it too much to ask my U to pay publication charges??

ETA: I wanted to follow up on ScienceWoman's and Chaser's comments about using grant money for travel, publication costs, etc. My department does not have a strong record for getting grant money (we teach five courses per year and have no PhD program). Since I came here, I have been trying to obtain grants despite this lack of mentoring and support (those of you you've read my blog for a while have heard about some of my trials and tribulations there). So far, I have not had any success, so I am left without any supplemental money for papers and travel. Every time these issues come up, I am reminded about those unfunded proposals, too.


ScienceWoman said...

While I agree that your situation sucks, we have to pay all page charges out of our grants.

Chaser said...

We have the same lot in life as sciencewoman at my uni. I hadn't expected it, and I got caught without any grant money up front my first year. One of my senior faculty took care of it, sucks.

And yeah, I get sick of taking care of so much of my conference travel myself.

Arbitrista (formerly Publius) said...

When I was doing that stuff, I had to pay for everything out of pocket. It sucked. A lot.

Mel said...

I'm just curious, since it works very differently in my field -- are these typical fees for a paper? and what do they cover? (We are usually required to pay subventions -- which my U doesn't cover at all -- only if there are illustrations, or expensive copyright fees for quotations.)

Addy N. said...

Mel: The fees for this journal are $50 per printed page, plus we are paying more for having one color figure ($400 extra) AND we ordered 20 reprints. There is a real mix in my discipline as far as page charges go- some charge if your paper is beyond a certain length, some charge for color figures, others charge per page, others don't charge anything.

Hypatia said...

We get notices of page charges and write back that we are too poor and don't pay them. In fact I don't think I"ve ever paid page charges.

(Does this publishing model bother anyone... People write stuff. You use volunteers to evaluate and critique the articles and to coordinate that critique. You charge the authors for the privelage of being published and then you charge users exhorbitant ammounts to read this stuff. Huh?)