Time for a new policy

April 12, 1996

Richard Clogg's article on Cambridge University Press (THES, March 29) raises questions about the consultations made in the course of rejecting Dr Karakasidou's manuscript. These consultations were deficient much closer to home. Together with Meyer Fortes and Edmund Leach I was one of the founders of the series in question and have remained on the board ever since.

Yet it was one month after the Syndics had made their final decision that I first heard about the affair. No one in the Press or on the Syndics (and I know many of them well) consulted me at any time. Suddenly I found myself the only remaining board member in the middle of a highly controversial affair.

Was that omission due to incompetence or is there more general distancing of a commercial orientated Press from its academic advisers and authors who in the end sustain it? The Press is certainly a vibrant global concern but its management does not seem to have fully adjusted to that role, as suggested first by the Karakasidou affair itself and second by its behaviour towards its academic advisers. In a commercial company one might expect some public accountability on the part of managers and directors. My own opinion is that it would be wise to formulate policy regarding relationships with the outside world at a university level, since it is on the university whose name it bears that the affairs of the Press finally reflect.

JACK GOODY St John's College, Cambridge

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