Re: Survey: How many refereed journals can your library NOT afford?

From: Sally Morris <sec-gen_at_ALPSP.ORG>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 11:17:25 -0000

Both Academic Press and Michigan seem to have found that, when a complete
collection of content is made available free at the point of use, anything
up to half the actual article usage comes from previously unsubscribed
material. If one can scale up these findings, it would appear that library
subscriptions may cover no more than half of users' potential information

These figures don't, of course, show whether the actual usage per journal
title was significantly more concentrated in those titles subscribed to than
the others, or how the usage from non-subscribed titles compared with
Inter-Library Loan/document delivery from the same titles. I would guess,
though, that the usage was (a) fairly thinly spread and (b) considerably
more than had previously occurred via ILL etc. It would be interesting to
know if either study has relevant evidence.

This seems to me to suggest two (not mutually exclusive) possibilities:
1) When material is free at the point of use it is used much more widely
than librarians might have expected. Interestingly, this argues for and not
against the journal 'bundles' which librarians generally seem to dislike so
2) Browsing may generate a larger proportion of use, compared with
targeted database searching (followed by ILL etc supply where the material
is not subscribed on campus), than might have been expected. This confirms
the SuperJournal findings of the importance of browsing. Whether browsing
is a realistic mode for identifying content of interest if literally
everything is freely available at the point of use I am not so sure! A
journal-like 'envelope' giving relevance and quality signals may still be

Sally Morris, Secretary-General
Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
South House, The Street, Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3UU, UK

Phone: 01903 871686 Fax: 01903 871457 E-mail:
ALPSP Website

Learned Publishing is now online, free of charge, at

----- Original Message -----
From: "Albert Henderson" <>
To: <>
Sent: 17 January 2001 13:35
Subject: Survey: How many refereed journals can your library NOT afford?

The idea that access is obstructed by budgets is
very interesting. The bottleneck in science
communications is based on the theory that
researchers can locate useful materials through
databases and citations in the literature.

The databases have reduced their coverage, also
thanks to stingy budgets. The National Library
of Medicine bibliographies, which in early days
attemped to be comprehensive, covered less than
ten percent of the biomedical literature according
to the centenery essay by Martin Cummings. Analyses
of other discipline-wide databases reveal similar
shortcomings. Like the libraries themselves, the
secondary information services are shrinking in
comparison to the totality of publication.

Some beancounters will argue that most journals /
papers are not worth covering. If this is true,
then money invested in research is wasted. Compare the
growth of financial investments in academic research
with the number of papers recognized by the National
ENGINEERING. Spending has doubled and redoubled while
the total number of recognized papers creeps upward.
The percentage of U.S. papers has fallen, contradicting
claims of leadership!

Clearly, sponsored research is aimed primarily at keeping
our most profitable universities well in the black. Agency
and university managers have no interest in productivity.
The real scandal is the relationship of science agencies to
research universities, as I describe at length in
"Undermining Peer Review" in the current issue of SOCIETY
38(2):47-54 2001.

Best wishes,

Albert Henderson

-------------Forwarded Message-----------------

Date: 1/14/2001 10:42 PM

RE: Survey: How many refereed journals can your library NOT afford?

It would be very helpful if those of you who have access to the data
could reply to the following 3 questions:

(1) How many refereed journals does your library subscribe to? (By
"subscribe," I mean either Subscription (S) or License (L), on-paper or
on-line, or both.)

(2) What proportion is that, of the total number of refereed journals
that are published (anywhere) that could conceivably be relevant to the
researchers (in all fields) at your institution?

(3) If we now add in your total potential annual budget for
Pay-Per-View (P), in addition to the prior annual figures for S and L:
What proportion of all the published papers in all the refereed
journals of potential relevance to your researchers can you afford to
purchase through Pay-Per-View?

The reason I have requested the S/L/P data in this rather
counterintuitive form is that I think these figures will prove to be
very revealing. And it is precisely these figures -- the figures for
all the papers your researchers MIGHT have wanted to read, if only they
could access and afford them all -- that tell the true story of what
the current status quo is costing research and researchers in lost
impact and access. And what freeing it all would gain them.

We are all too accustomed to think in terms of the journals our
institutions CAN afford to access, rather than the ones they cannot.
This short-sighted reckoning might be what is holding us back -- or
preventing us from seeing the urgency and advantages of -- freeing this
literature immediately through self-archiving.

Here is a prediction: The data will show that even the very richest
institutions, with the biggest S/L/P budgets (e.g., Harvard), will only
be able to afford a minority of the total relevant annual corpus. And
most institutions will be able to afford much less.

This means that MOST of the refereed research literature is
inaccessible to MOST researchers on the planet -- which is particularly
scandalous, given that ALL of that literature is a give-away FROM all
those researchers, and that there is no longer any reason, hence any
justification, whatsoever, for ALL of them not having access to ALL of
it, for free, right now.

Here's hoping that the data you provide in response to these three
questions (plus the January 23 release of the Eprints 1.1
institutional archive-creating software
<>, compliant with the January 23 release of the
OAI 1.0 Open Archives protocol <>) will at
last get us all to the optimal and inevitable in 2001!

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 Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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