Re: Should Publishers Offer Free-Access Services?

From: Thomas J. Walker <tjw_at_GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 11:00:00 -0500

To resurrect a long dormant thread--

>On Fri, 28 Aug 1998 10:45:02 -0400, Thomas J. Walker <tjw_at_GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
>>Arthur Smith ( Might e-reprints be a way to evolve into
>>free access in an all-electronic future? Authors (or their institutions or
>>grants) would get used to paying for immediate toll-free access. (They
>>should get delayed toll-free access without charge.)

At 12:24 PM 8/28/98 -0400, Arthur Smith wrote:
>No, I don't think claiming you are providing "e-reprints" through
>electronic publishing is a good solution. Authors will not be easily
>fooled by this (why can they not just post it on an e-print server
>and have free unlimited reprints?)

Offering e-reprints would not fool authors. It would give authors a way
easily to make accessible the archived versions of their articles (that is,
the official, paper-published version with its formatting and pagination).

Am I correct in my understanding that APS authors are not specifically
permitted by APS to post the PDF files of their articles on the XXX server?
If they are so permitted, they will surely soon learn to do it. If they are
not permitted to do it, should not APS provide them an ethical, convenient,
contractual way of having it done for them--namely, by selling them the
service [which would be equivalent to selling them an infinite, permanent
supply of toll-free, Web-accessible reprints]?

If they are not permitted to do it, and APS declines to sell them the
service, aren't more and more authors likely to think doing it themselves is
the only way to accomplish what should be done for the greater good (as
Steven suggests). And won't APS not only lose revenue it could have earned,
but also miss a chance to get authors accustomed to doing what Steven and I
say they will need to do in the all-e future--namely, to pay for making
their referred versions accessible toll-free on the Web?

>And why should you delay publication of
>possibly important results just because the author was unable or refused
>to pay?

No one is talking delaying publication. Without e-reprints every article is
potentially already available as

1. an unrefereed e-print,
2. refereed hardcopy in the paper journal,
3. as a paper reprint from the author, and
3. as a pdf file (of the refereed hardcopy) on the author's server.

A delay in posting the PDF, refereed version of some articles to XXX is the
only way to justify charging those authors that want immediate posting.

>And why should not readers pay, in some form at least?

Readers should not pay because authors of research articles would rather
that their readers not have to pay. And the cost of providing their readers
free access (so long as paper continues) is negligible.

>authors pay for everything, the economic pressures will almost certainly
>force publishers into a "vanity press" mode, where quality drops through
>the floor (authors care little for quality control, it is the reader who
>cares). Tell me how you will sustain the quality of existing scientific
>journals against the pressure to cut costs and please the author!

Authors do care about quality, as do tenure and promotion committees.

Thomas J. Walker
Department of Entomology & Nematology
University of Florida, PO Box 110620, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
E-mail: FAX: (352)392-0190
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:45:29 GMT