Re: NIH's Public Archive for the Refereed Literature: PUBMED CENTRAL

From: Mark Doyle <doyle_at_APS.ORG>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 13:49:44 -0400

> From: Lee Miller <>
> Date: 1999-09-22 09:49:28 -0400

> How has the income stream for physics journals been affected by the
> apparently universal use of the LANL archives in physics?

For Physical Review, not much at although online usage of Phys. Rev. D
(about 90% of which appears on LANL) seems somewhat depressed compared to the
other Phys. Rev. journals which don't have as large a percentage of papers
on LANL.

Since the late 60's, there has been a steady average 3% per year dropoff in
Phys. Rev. subscriptions. The trend has accelerated a bit over the last year
or two, but mostly this is attributable to things like the Asian economic
crisis and the strong dollar. There is no indication that availability of
papers on LANL is contributing to this decline.

Furthermore, Phys. Rev. D submissions are actually increasing now because of
APS's forward looking policy. We have a copyright statement that allows
authors to keep (and even update) there papers on xxx and we allow for direct
submissions from xxx to the journals. I believe PRD has benefitted overall
by being receptive to the needs of the community it serves.

For the very long term, we are examining what it would take to do away with
using subscriptions to support the peer-review process. There are two big
hurdles: 1) reducing the cost of handling electronic manuscripts and 2)
author/institution/funding agency acceptance of paying submission fees up
front. I don't think we can really impose 2 until 1 is accomplished and we
make it clear that this will lead to free reader access, at least to the
article content itself. Other services such as linking and searching and
archival (pre-e-print-era articles) access may be offered on a subscription
basis, but at least the first two will have to compete with automated
services provided by e-print services. Many efficiencies for accomplishing 1
depend on the authors taking more care in manuscript preparation and any
benefit a publisher like APS gets from this will also carry over to an
e-print archive. It may even come to the point where Phys. Rev. will just be
an overlay on an e-print archive, but we are still a ways from that.

None of this is particulary troublesome to APS because we aim not to make
money, but to diffuse knowledge of physics. So if we can accomplish the
peer-review function and the archiving using a different economic model, then
we will do it. Thus, we aren't idly sitting around waiting for the
subscription system to collapse, but instead we are actively re-engineering
our processes to blunt any impact of what may be inevitable. The physics
community is voting with their feet on the importance of e-prints in their
day-to-day research and this is something that APS can not and will not
ignore. Afterall, they are APS and APS is they.


Mark Doyle
Research and Development
The American Physical Society
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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