Re: Savings from Converting to On-Line-Only: 30%- or 70%+ ?

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_COGSCI.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 08:04:48 -0400

> Arthur Smith ( wrote:
> JHEP seems to be on course to publish about 300 papers per year, ATMP
> about 60. JHEP charges libraries $360 and ATMP $300 for the print
> edition, or $1.20 and $5 per article, respectively... these
> "electronic-only" journals are not giving libraries a huge price cut
> now... Furthermore, both "overlay" journals have print versions (which
> they rely on for revenue), so it is hard to truly call them
> "electronic-only".

I believe you have answered your own question.

What we need to know is how much it REALLY costs to produce TRULY
electronic-only journals, and whether S/SL/PPV is the optimal way to
recover those costs (and a fair profit), or there is a better way
for us all.

> many established journals are making significant innovations in online
> publication that puts them well ahead of what can be done "on the
> cheap".... with article inter-linking, searching and presentation,
> etc. Many are bringing older material online as we have done with PROLA
> ( All these things provide significant value to
> the reader.

They do indeed add value, and should be sold as such. But the question
is not whether S/SL/PPV can be saved by linking it inextricably with
add-ons. Let the add-ons fend for themselves. The concern here is about
getting free access to the (current) journal literature, and how
to pay the true costs of THAT, and that alone.

> BUT - a reader is unlikely to pay for them alone. How many people will
> subscribe to ATMP when they know every article in there is available
> (in identical form) on the xxx site? Especially if they can just
> search for "ATMP" or some such in the article abstract to find ATMP
> papers.

Again, you've answered your own question. So do you think that the
Learned Community wishes to be held hostage to add-ons
(particularly add-ons like search and linking, that could also be
gotten "on the cheap")?

> providing a single location to look things up... is the primary role of
> abstracting/indexing services

But generic browsers (guided by the all-important +/- REFEREED tag,
once most of the literature is on-line and free in xxx and
home-servers) could already do almost as well on the cheap...

> The ideal of page charges is fine - until you run into the reality
> mentioned elsewhere by Professor Hurtado - many authors do not have
> funds to pay the $500 or whatever it costs for each article to be
> published (or even considered for publication with submission charges)
> and some funding agencies even forbid it (most US science funding
> agencies did not allow paying page charges out of research funds a few
> decades ago).

It is not at all clear that this is irremediable.

But, for a start, what's the obstacle in the fields/countries where it
IS possible, then?

To allow page charges to support PAPER publication already funded
by S/SL/PPV is to add insult to injury! So no wonder they are
forbidden in some quarters.

But let's see what research supporters say about page charges when they
are much reduced and provide free journal literature for all (not
to mention enormous library savings).

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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