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

From: Mark Doyle <doyle_at_APS.ORG>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 11:39:51 -0400

> From: Frank Norman <>
> Date: 1999-09-23 10:15:24 -0400

> Regarding 2), I have heard some concerns that this would unfairly
> penalise the most productive institutions/departments. Institution
> A producing 500 research papers p.a. will be liable for twice the
> level of charges of less effective Institution B producing only 250
> papers p.a. This may make the management of Institution A less
> than enthusiastic about such a move towards submssion charges.
> I'd welcome any further insights on this.

There are several ways to look at this. Is it fair that a small college
subscribing to Phys. Rev. for its students subsidizes the researchers at
large institutions through subscriptions? For Phys. Rev. there is a huge gap
between subscription income from Research Level 1 and 2 institutions and the
cost in disseminating papers from these institutions. I think it would be
more fair to burden the larger institutions with the actual costs that it
takes to disseminate their work. The main costs are not in the distribution
(especially with electronic publishing), but in the core costs for
peer-reviewing the manuscript and typesetting (which as I said earlier need
to be greatly reduced through efficient electronic submittal).

I advocate a system in which there would be a very low cost path for authors
who follow guidelines in manuscript preparation that obviate the need for
the labor intensive processing that we currently do. Authors who choose not
to follow the guidelines should pay for the services required to bring their
manuscript into the production process. The current system has no feedback
that makes authors sensitive to the costs in dissemination of their papers -
they often publish in expensive commercial journals precisely because they
don't have to pay page charges (this almost killed Physical Review D). A
colleague of mine suggested that if an author publishes in an expensive
journal, than their institution's library should charge them a fee to cover
the additional expense of the subscription - just to close the feedback loop.

Introduction of submission charges must be coupled to making the end product
free because that is a compelling reason for an author to pay them. I say
"author", but I really mean author/institution/funding agencies. A local
solution where authors have to divert money from their research grants to pay
fees is too unpopular to succeed in the long run (PRD suffered because
theorists who publish frequently have small budgets compared to experimental
groups that publish infrequently and have huge budgets). So a more global
solution is needed.

Paul Gherman's idea of an organization like SPARC actiing as a way to pool
institutional resources for paying submission charges is an interesting one.
I am leery of a system that freezes in the subscription model for the
long-term though. If part of the scheme was a long-term goal that
subscription prices should decline significantly and go away altogether, then
it would seem to an attractive path. In any case, it clear that new ideas
are needed.


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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:45:37 GMT