2.0K vs. 0.2K

From: Thomas J. Walker <tjw_at_GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 10:21:58 -0400

Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 10:07:34 -0400
From: "Thomas J. Walker" <tjw_at_GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
To: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_coglit.ecs.soton.ac.uk>


Thought you might be interested in this exchange from earlier this year.

I was naive to think that Societies would think it win-win to sell at a
profit what their authors want.

Thomas J. Walker
Department of Entomology & Nematology
University of Florida, PO Box 110620, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
E-mail: tjw_at_gnv.ifas.ufl.edu FAX: (352)392-0190
Web: http://csssrvr.entnem.ufl.edu/~walker/tjwbib/walker.htm

>Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 11:47:26 -0500 (EST)
>From: "Arthur P. Smith" <apsmith_at_aps.org>
>Subject: Re: Should Publishers Offer Free-Access Services?
>To: "Thomas J. Walker" <tjw_at_GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
>X-Authentication-warning: lancelot.aps.org: apsmith owned process doing -bs
>On Thu, 18 Feb 1999, Thomas J. Walker wrote:
>> I posted this to the Sept Amer Scientist in November. I am now writing an
>> Annual Review article that includes a discussion of the transition from the
>> current journal system to an all-e system. Your answers might help me
>> understand the reluctance of journals to sell to authors what they want
>> (free, convenient access to their archived refereed articles without their
>> having to spend time making it happen).
>Hey, I might have changed my mind...
>> 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
>Yup - good point.
>> 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?
>I'm not quite clear on that. I believe the answer is no, they are not allowed
>to post the final PDF files - on the other hand the current copyright

>agreement does seem to specifically allow them to post the final PDF on
>their own web pages. It's a little confusing - our associate publisher is
>the one with the official answers, if you need an official answer. And
>the copyright agreement is under review (a "license" version has been
>and discussed extensively) so the answer may well change in the next few
>> 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]?
>Yes, that's certainly worth considering. The reluctance on our part
>may come from the complexity of keeping both free and non-free articles -
>but really it's only an additional 1-bit tag on the article. There may
>also be a reluctance in creating two apparent tiers of articles; those
>which are free and those which are not. There is certainly a great
>sensitivity here to ability to pay on the part of authors - the "page
>here have always been voluntary. And the price could be quite high (a
>rough guess is an average $2000 per article). And by making the PDF free
>based on initial author payment we may be reducing our options for
>data migration in the future (we couldn't very well charge for a
>new-fangled XYZ format if the old PDF was still available free, so
>how do we fund conversion to XYZ?) But I really can't speak for
>the organization on this - we're looking at all sorts of new models,
>and this is one that has been considered in the past and may well be again.
>> 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?
>Well, I think we don't really look at authors as you do, perhaps.
>70% of our authors come from outside the U.S., many come from FSU
>or even developing countries where there is no way for the forseeable
>future they will be able to pay even what Stevan would agree is
>a necessary charge. Even in the U.S. we get a substantial number of papers
>from grad students or postdocs, or even small college faculty (particularly
>theorists) for whom a $200 charge would be a significant
>burden, never mind $2000. But their work is definitely worthy of review and
>inclusion in the established literature. So how can we be fair?
>> >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
>No comment here... I'm not sure what I was talking about either, except
>the two-tier issue which I think really is important. If one
>set of articles is accessible to millions and the other to merely
>thousands of readers, which set is likely to become higher in prestige
>> >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.
>Perhaps this is the critical point where we differ. We (or at least I)
>don't anticipate paper lasting much longer at all. Look at Encyclopedias -
>once CD-ROM's came out, paper encyclopedias have basically become a dead
>market. Encyclopedia Britannica almost went under from it. Our utility,
>at least from our perspective, is not very far in nature from the
>reference utility of an encyclopedia, and will almost surely suffer
>the same fate within at most a decade. Probably less. The only reason
>it hasn't happened yet is that our content (all of the physics literature,
>say) is up to a thousand times bigger than an encyclopedia - once digital
>media with that capacity arrive, paper will be totally obsolete. And
>the internet means we may not even have to wait for physical media
>any more. And that means the electronic version has to recoup all costs,
>not just "last-copy". That's where the $2000 estimated charge comes from.
>> >If
>> >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.
>Yeah - well, I think I had a valid concern but I won't argue further on that.
> Hope this helps - feel free to send more questions/comments.
> Arthur (apsmith_at_aps.org)
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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