Meet Derk Haank

27 February 2015 - Scientific publishing

Meet Derk Haank. He used to run Elsevier Science, now runs Springer. Haank is a pretty important figure in scientific publishing. Springer recently acquired MacMillan. Mac Who? That is the German Von Holtzbrinck family and proud owners of the journal Nature. Who is better positioned to present a counter-view to the whole open-access debate going on (see here). Last week he gave an interview to NRC (Marcel aan de Brugh again) and as a public translation service here are the quotes.

It must be a lot easier to extort money from those poor little university librarians if you have Nature in your back pocket. Haank says it himself: "we publish anything that is scientifically OK, from barely passing to excellent", Nature on the other hand "is very selective for those articles that really make the difference in the world". According to Haank Springer hopes that 95% of the articles rejected by Nature will find a home in one of the other Springer journals. This makes sense. In his Elsevier days Haank at some point feared that "scientists would increasingly share articles and that ultimately each publication would end up with just one subscription". He takes pride in his invention of the "big deal" , the single fee for hundreds of titles. This business model, Haank explains enables libraries to handle the 7% annual increase in books and articles. This again makes sense. And what about open-access? In the open-access business model Springer would lose one third of its customer-base: those companies that do not publish. More to think about: scientists can not self-organise open-access publications. "The mutual distrust is too great".