Re: What should society publishers do?

From: Thomas J. Walker <tjw_at_GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 13:32:31 -0500

I'm pleased to find that Stevan and I agree that both self-archiving and
sales of "offprints" or "IFWA" to authors prior to the abandonment of paper
may speed the transition to a system where all articles are freely
accessible on the Web and publication charges are paid by the authors and
their supporting institutions.

I'd like to add to the "What should society publishers do?" thread by
commmenting on two of Stevan's answers to questions I posed in a previous

At 04:08 PM 2/22/00 +0000, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>On Tue, 22 Feb 2000, Thomas J. Walker wrote:
>> Question: If FES's revenues from institutional subscriptions begin a steep
>> decline, how should FES garner enough revenues to continue publishing paper
>> issues until its members are willing to forego them?
>Charge more and more for paper, but don't try to stop the online
>version from being made available free by the author. (This would make
>the situation much more realistic.)

Charging more for institutional subscriptions will likely cause a steeper
decline in revenues from that source. Libraries have a serials crisis, and
they have little excuse to continue their subscriptions as long as FES is
giving IFWA to all its authors. When FES raised its institutional
subscription price by 25% in 1999, it lost 11% of its institutional
subscribers (

Charging members more for subscriptions also has its problems. Some
members may belong largely to receive the societies journal (in paper).
When FES raised dues in 1999, membership suffered.

>> Question: Should FES not sell publisher-provided IFWA at a fair price to
>> those authors who wish to pay for it?
>Yes, as long as FES does not try to stop self-archiving by those who don't.

I've always agreed with Stevan that societies should not try to stop, and
probably cannot stop, self-archiving. FES has never put any restrictions
on authors distributing their articles before or after refereeing or

I think it is time for scientific societies to come down squarely on the
side of providing as much free access as quickly as possible and to discuss
honestly with members the options for, and the fiscal difficulties of,
transitioning to what is desirable and (in the opinion of many) inevitable:
free Web access to all refereed articles.

Tom Walker

Thomas J. Walker
Department of Entomology & Nematology
University of Florida, PO Box 110620, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
E-mail: FAX: (352)392-0190
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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