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

From: Tony Barry <tonyb_at_NETINFO.COM.AU>
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1998 02:20:08 +1000

At 12:25 PM 1998/08/31, Arthur Smith wrote:

>a reputable publisher. Ignoring royalties, compare what a self-published
>author can hope to achieve (say posting their book on the web) relative
>to one who relies on a traditional publisher. This really isn't
>all that different from what scholarly authors seek.

An alternative is the return of the University Presses in elctronic form
rather than self publishing.

> Wouldn't any journalist
>"pay" to see his work on the front page of the New York Times, just as Harnad
>has suggested a scholarly author would "pay" to get into "Science" magazine?
>But the value of the reputation of the publications is what precludes
>this kind of payment system.

My experience with email list is that journalists will freely post quite
extensive and useful material which they may later publish in the media.

>3. Free-lance journalists. Paid by the piece, and not tied to a particular
>publication, but otherwise much the same as regular journalists. Their
>main motivation is to get wide recognition for their work, so they
>can ask a higher price in future.

As above. They tend to provide a lot of information freely often in the
hope I suspect of getting comments from others who they may be able to mine
for information for future stories.

>4. Advertisers. Harnad has claimed that scholarly authors are closest
>to advertisers in motivation, but that cannot be generally true
>- the goal of an advertiser
>is to catch people's attention>

One wants to attact the attention of customers, the other peers.

>If academics were like advertisers, they would bulk e-mail
>their thoughts to all and sundry - this doesn't happen.

A lot of traffic takes place on lists where ideas are exchanged and firmed
up which might appear later in publications. Not to "all and sundry" but to
an interested group.

> all authors want their work presented in a manner that will ensure
>a wide readership and particularly recognition from their peers.

Distribution through some journals does not assist this in the case of
those which are pricing themselves out of the market. Certainly for
readership but maybe not for recognition!

>Whether or not they receive royalties for their work, the reputation and
>authority of a given publisher are what promote its success.

Its the referees that provide this. The publisher is just a label which
represents a choice of good referees.

>1. Libraries cutting subscriptions and paper expenses and putting their
>savings into this - is that a realistic concept? Wouldn't libraries put
>their savings into their much-abused book collections?

In Australia libraries have done this from the last two decades with the
result that services have been cut severly and monograph purchases cut to
the bone to retain journal subscriptions.

>Wouldn't recalcitrant
>faculty members force libraries to hang on to one or two "essential" paper
>subscriptions, now exhorbitantly priced because of subscription declines?

They have but the limit is reached.

>What university is going to support libraries sending their money to
>third parties who provide their information free anyway?

In Australia a group of major academic libraries, with the approval of
their clientele, are diverting money to set up a "fighting fund" to combat
the predatory actions of some publishers. In Europe, the US, Australia and
elsewhere acadmic libraries are setting up consortia to negotiate with
publishers to get reasonable access to electronic versions of print

>3. An independent fund or trust, or scholarly societies themselves.
>We're talking about at least a few hundred million dollars yearly (various
>estimates have given 1 - 3 million published scholarly articles a year,
>and minimal peer review costs of at least a few hundred dollars). Has
>anybody stepped forward to create and run such a beast? Why should the
>other parties in the publication process trust it?

Universities in Australia alone spend well over $US100m pa on librray
material. Typically 6% of university budgets goes to support the library,
close to half of that on bying library materials or access to it with the
serial literature taking up more that a quarter of the total when you take
into account the costs of check-in, claiming, database support, binding
etc. Roughly you could say that the typical univerity spends about 2% of
its budget NOW on access to the serial literature.

> I don't think
>any of this will be easy or easily swallowed by libraries,
>governments, or publishers.

As a librarian, now retired, I see electronic serials as the only way in
the long term that access to the research literature can be retained
without continual injection of funds to maintain access to the every
increasing costs of the print literature.

> Password-based individual
>subscriptions can be cumbersome, but there are technical means for
>easing that.

They are hideous for the libraries and thence large "aggregator" services
are starting up. s Blackwell's Navigator service and Ebsco's Ebscohost
mediate access to a large suite of journals. As electronic commerce
services mature I think it will become irresitable to cut out the library
as the middleman and sell direct to the academic end user.
>As far as "seamless literature", I think the only prospect we have
>for that in the next few decades is through the secondary or tertiary
>services (abstracters and indexers and the likes of Science Citations).
>Any other mechanism would leave out too much of the literature (past
>as well as current), and most people doing literature searches
>would not use it.

Coming out of left field from the World Wide Web Consortium W3C, is the XML
standard which contains within it the Resource Description Format (RDF)
which can carry rating information and indexing via the rapidly developing
Dublin Core Standard. This leads to economic models which can further
decouple the generation of indexes from the delivery of databases using. We
have seen this decoupling in the providion of multiple CDROM varients on
the one database. On the network we will see far more. It will also open
the possability of even more narrow and specialised indexes. The secondary
literature is just as much threatened by electronic publishing as the
primary publishers if not more so.

>Because it's a hassle for the author. I used to have a bunch of my
>papers available on a personal web site, but the computer they were on
>was re-purposed. I re-installed them on a new system, but that went
>away too. I haven't bothered to do it again, and I'm really not sure
>anybody ever downloaded one of my papers while it was up, free for

For the last three years whatever I wrote, which needed formatting, was in
html even internal memos. I just moved it from machine to machine as it was
easier doing that than using word processors and the consequent problems
that people had in converting one format to another. My experience is the

>Let me turn the question around - if an author's work is getting published
>in a reputable journal, and the author knows it will shortly be
>available and highlighted to the peers whose recognition he or she craves,
>what reason does the author have to put extra effort into posting
>it free on the web?

It has seemed to me that the extra effort was in reformatting it to
whatever style and WP format the publisher wanted.


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

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