Re: The Logic of Page Charges to Free the Journal Literature

From: Steve Hitchcock <> <> <>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 14:48:10 -0400

Stevan, In view of the recent explosion of debate you have
participated in (Scholar's Forum etc.) this is going back a week or so, but
in the interest of wanting not to 'weigh it (the LANL model) down' ...

At 12:44 PM 4/28/99 +0100, you wrote:
>It is conceivable to pay for the quality control via S/L/P in PARALLEL
>(i.e., there is a free version in the Public Archive and a fee-based
>version in paper, and in the Publisher's Online Archive), and there is
>no reason anyone should object to that, except that it makes no sense:
>Why would anyone want to continue paying for what they can get for free?

Stevan, Good question, and one for the commercial players to
answer. Non-exclusivity is the lever to get them to answer, and it would be
good not just for authors and users, but publishers too. I think it is
possible to build enhancements that are worth paying for - and there are
many good examples in many fields, such as open source software. In
contrast, exclusive copyright is a drag on publisher innovation.

I see the e-print archives as the open source software model for scholarly

>Now do you see the logic of why it does not make sense to recover that
>30% directly via S/L/P barriers?

No. The open source model does not prescribe how market forces will
develop. I believe that page charges will be at best a niche market,
because I see little demand from authors, readers, publishers or
librarians, and there are few incentives at the moment. But my view doesn't
matter because it is not a market driver. The point is that open source
should produce a better cost model for our papers, whether it's S/L/P or
page charges. So I can't see the point of this part of the argument.

Assume there is a global e-print archive freely available, and that
principal goal has been achieved. Your next concern is that we still have
the refereed journals to certify papers. Since you believe that people will
not pay for what is free elsewhere - this may be a core fallacy - we have
to recover the costs of refereeing via upfront page charges to protect the
journals. In other words the fallacy leads you to think that without income
guaranteed by page charges the journals will be abandoned. I don't think
it's remotely likely that publishers will abandon the journals even if they
have to cede exclusivity to the archive. On the other hand, if the large
share of the academic 'market' somehow opts for page charges that would
represent a bigger threat to the journals than otherwise would be the case.

Wouldn't it make sense to concentrate on non-exclusivity in pursuit of a
free global archive, leave the 30 per cent S/L/P stuff alone, then let
market forces work?

Steve Hitchcock
Open Journal Project
Multimedia Research Group, Department of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (01)703 593256 Fax: +44 (01)703 592865
Open Journal Project Web page
"Bringing journals alive on the World Wide Web"
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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