Re: Nature 10 September on Public Archiving

From: Albert Henderson <NobleStation_at_COMPUSERVE.COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 18:19:28 -0400

on 16 Sep 1998 Mark Doyle <> wrote:

On Wed, 16 Sep 1998, "Albert Henderson <>" wrote:

> The cost of
technology for accessing xxx is extremely minimal, less than subscribing to
a single year many journals. Increasing coverage at xxx makes the return on
such a minimal investment even higher. Establishing and maintaining a print
library that contains (not to mention grows with) the same information as
xxx has little, if any, return on investment in this way.

You must have Physical Review D in mind when you say technology
for accessing xxx is minimal Tenopir and King (J. Schol Publ 24,3
1997:153) indicate the average 1995 price of a learned journal is $284.


>> Unlike the electronic-only journal, most publications must run two
>> distributions. Many readers lack the infrastructure required to
>> participate in epublishing.

> A decreasing number and probably not a majority... [snip]

I would be interested in evidence regarding such majorities.


>> Associations like AAAS, with members who
>> prefer their paper copy, are particularly hard pressed to cut out
>> print.
> 'Prefer' is not 'require'. Anyway, no one is saying print has to be cut
> out. The issue is whether print or electronic is the primary deliverable.
> Current publishing is heavily slanted towards print production so electronic
> production is fit in as an ad hoc added cost. But this isn't the optimal
> solution. Having two distribution methods does not require two production
> processes. Rather, you can quite effectively use a single production process
> geared towards electronic distribution with printing as a single extra step
> for which publishers can charge users who want it.

Or the reverse, since IMHO print readers are still the majority.
I think the electronic option is fine and useful. It has not
proved its viability in spite of the exiting opportunities that
it offers.

>> So epublishing while appearing to provide economies actually
>> becomes an extra burden that demands extra investments in technology,
>> human resources, etc.
> Only because of the way it has evolved as an ad hoc add-on to the current
> print-oriented processes. But, yes, of course there are investments
> required, but these investments, if done correctly, can have extremely high
> returns.

We are in agreement.

>> There are more pressing problems flowing from the poor productivity of
>> research. Even Newt Gingrich complains about the poor dissemination and
>> synthesis of scientific results. The taxpayer is not getting his/her
>> money's worth. The researcher is insulated from important information.
>> Going electronic offers no solution to this.
> How does increasing library subscriptions to paper journals increase
> productivity? Having more paper in your library doesn't make it any easier
> to find the articles that are relevant to your research. Going electronic
> means more effective searching, faster browsing, automated filtering with
> notifications, more open communications, better access, more time for doing
> research.

First, I don't care whether subscriptions are paper or electronic.

Second, you have to understand that to prepare a comprehensive
review article, the writer needs comprehensive primary sources.
That also means comprehensive coverage by databases (which really
pioneered in electronic publishing 30 years ago, financed
largely by the marketplace).

Third, what research needs is more evaluation and synthesis
of research. The first recommendation of a Presidential panel
indicated, "scientists must create new science, not just shuffle
documents: their activities of reviewing, writing books,
criticizing, and synthesizing are as much a part of science as
is traditional research (President's Science Advisory Committee.

Because "dissemination" was ditched by science policy and
university administrators, I see little real hope for the
researcher until policy that supports "dissemination" --
regardless of medium -- is reaffirmed.

>> British Library consultant David J Brown indicates the new media will
>> not survive if the economic market is not large enough. (ELECTRONIC
>> PUBLISHING AND LIBRARIES. London: Bowker-Saur 1996)
> So? That doesn't mean that the market isn't large enough. I think it is far
> more likely that publishers who don't evolve to take advantage of the new
> media won't survive. If the market changes, it is up to the publishers to
> respond to the change in the market, even if that includes streamlining
> production so that expenses are more in line with what the market will
> support.

Publishers have responded by cutting editorial coverage,
demanding author subsidies, and abandoning research
entirely. Why did AIP get out of publishing physics
monographs last year? Should university presses also
fold up their monograph lines?

>> He also points out
>> that library growth has not been sufficient to absorb the growth of
>> research. I would add, nor is library growth able to disseminate what
>> it cannot absorb. In my eyes this is due to universities diverting
>> library finances to support administrative growth.
>> A solution to the problems of dissemination would be easily derived by
>> financial support of library growth that would keep up with research.
> A sub-optimal solution you mean. Another solution is to change the process
> so that library growth isn't required. Such solutions exist.

If science (and its work product) grow, and libraries don't,
what will be libraries' function? Are science libraries a
part of science?

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

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