Re: December D-Lib piece

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2000 20:07:21 +0000

On Wed, 2 Feb 2000, Robert Apfel wrote:

> Unique features of this journal are that it accepts multimedia (e.g.,
> audio and video files), and it features an online Manuscript Management
> Systems for handling the peer review process...
> This process permits a submitted article to be peer reviewed and
> published in as little as one month.

Congratulations on your new journal! (Note, though, that online peer
review, and its associated speed and efficiency, is now being practiced
by more and more journals, both paper and online, so though
progressive, that is not the unique feature of your new journal.)

> As you properly pointed out, the QC/C costs are modest, but not
> negligible. We handle them by charging a per-article author charge of
> $350 for accepted articles, and nothing for rejected ones.

The amount is a bit high, but not unreasonable for the current costs
(which will go down). What might be a bit too optimistic is to levy
them before authors have access to their institutions' S/L/P savings to
pay them with. I hope this does not compromise your submission quality
or quantity, but it may not.

> This is not optimal, but until the S/L/P savings come back to us, we
> have no alternative.

Slight correction: The S/L/P savings come back to the
author-institution, and then QC/C charges can be paid out of a portion
of those savings... (I think the ambiguity comes from the unusual but
laudable fact that when you say "us" here you are speaking on behalf of
us, the research community, and not as an editor, on behalf of another
set of interests, and alas conflicting ones! Some editors forget that
they too are "us.")

> Although individual readers are not charged for accessing the articles
> online, we plan to ask libraries to pay a modest fee ($150/yr) to
> support the development of this approach, as well as the long-term
> archiving and migrating of material (especially multimedia files),
> which was not directly addressed as a long-term cost in your article.

That too might be reasonable, by way of a library's investment toward
creating the condition for future S/L/P savings, but again, premature
charges before savings are realized may compromise the volume of
participation. But one can only wish it well! (Institute of Physics
[IOP] has been experimenting with something like this for some time
now; it might be good to check how they are doing.)

> Of course, the problem is that the publisher, who has the QC/C costs,
> must somehow recover costs from the libraries and other subscribers who
> now have the S/L/P savings. The mechanism by which this transfer takes
> place still eludes me.

You are quite right. I don't think there is a natural transition
scenario; it will have to be planned and designed collaboratively.

> Another approach for funding is to put on the hat of the taxpayer. I,
> the taxpayer, fund science and technology research funded by
> governments. For every dollar (or pound) of my tax money, I should
> insist that the government insist that the researcher spend a certain
> portion (1%?) on dissemination of research. Yes, grantees ask for
> money for publications, but often they do not use it, but rather
> rebudget it for salaries or supplies. They then go to the publishers
> that have no author fees, which are, of course, the for-profit
> publishers that tend to charge the libraries the greatest subscription
> fees for their journals. By requiring the expenditure of a certain
> expenditure for dissemination (use it or lose it), we can pay up front,
> thereby eliminating downstream costs and complications (like fulfilment
> of subscriptions, etc.).

I think that is an excellent idea, and an alternative to more
complicated S/L/P re-budgetings. But would it be a longer shot to
try to cause it to happen; and could it happen as quickly?

> Thank you for laying out such reasonable arguments in your article. If
> we can only get entrenched constituencies to look not only at their own
> operations but also at the new paradigms demanded by the new
> technologies and opportunities, the path ahead will become much
> clearer.
> Robert Apfel
> ARLO Editor
> Yale University

My hunch is still that the surest and fastest way to get entrenched
ways to change is if the research community takes matters into their
own hands (by publicly self-archiving all their work in Open Archives)
as the Physics community has already done, successfully.

But initiatives like yours are most commendable and welcome; let 1000
flowers bloom.


Stevan Harnad
Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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