Re: Distinguishing the Essentials from the Optional Add-Ons

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 11:55:14 +0100

At 01:32 PM 7/26/01 +0100, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>On Wed, 25 Jul 2001, George Lundberg wrote:
>> i certainly can agree with one point
>> the market will decide
>> however i would not count on any "windfall savings" unless there is a
>> secure on-going revenue stream
>> and that is, of course, a fundamental problem with any "giveaway" product
>I am not quite sure what George means here (nor what he is taking me
>to mean):
>Note that most of this is hypothetical:
>The part that is not hypothetical but certain is:
>The (hypothetical) windfall savings would be those of the university
>libraries, from S/L/P cancellations, if (hypothetically) the online
>availability of the self-archived ("giveaway") version of all refereed
>articles (if/when most or all of them are indeed self-archived) were to
>cause a catastrophic drop in the demand (hence revenue streams) for the
>S/L/P version (on-paper, publisher's PDF, publisher's online
>enhancements). A portion (be it 10% or 30%) of those university
>windfall savings could then be used to pay the costs, on a per-paper
>submitted/accepted basis, to maintain the revenue streams for the sole
>remaining essential service from refereed journal publishers, namely,
>the implementation of peer review.
>The only part that is not hypothetical but certain is the preferability
>of free access to the refereed research literature (does anyone wish to
>contest this?), and the fact that author self-archiving would immediately
>provide this (does anyone wish to contest this?).
>Now let us unwrap these contingencies, to show how they could fail:
>(1) Researchers could fail to self-archive their refereed articles,
>hence fail to free them online, despite the potential benefits in
>visibility, access and impact. One hopes they will not fail to do this,
>and one can keep explaining and facilitating its feasibility, legality,
>and optimality, but there is always the possibility that the token will
>fail to drop, or to drop in enough researchers' minds, or to drop any
>time soon. In that case, the rest is moot.
>(2) Even if all refereed research is made available online for free in
>OAI-compliant Eprint Archives soon, this may not diminish the demand
>for the S/L/P version. In that case, the rest is moot.
>(3) But if the giveaway version does generate a catastrophic drop in
>the demand for the S/L/P version, as reflected in S/L/P cancellations,
>then the annual institutional windfall S/L/P savings are the natural
>candidate (though not the only one) for paying the essential
>peer-review service costs for that institution's outgoing research papers.
>Now the above is what I meant. Can anyone help me interpret what George
>Stevan Harnad

I think George was referring to your paras (2) and (3). If OAI-compliant
archives don't put the journals out of business, the "journals pricing
crisis" is unsolved; the finacial problems for academic libraries remain.
But if the journals do go out of business (because academics access the
free versions of papers, don't use their library to access journals any
more, and consequently no longer support library purchases of journals),
then the catastrophic drop in income to the publishers will lead to a new,
but short-term, problem: a new form of financial support for the
quality-control activity will have to be agreed rather quickly. Ideas have
been floating around for a while -- for example, those of John W.T. Smith
-- but we will need not just bright ideas, but an international consensus
among academics, which might not be attainable quickly enough.

Fytton Rowland.

Fytton Rowland, M.A., Ph.D., F.I.Inf.Sc., Lecturer,
Deputy Director of Undergraduate Programmes and
Programme Tutor for Publishing with English,
Department of Information Science,
Loughborough University,
Loughborough, Leics LE11 3TU, UK.

Phone +44 (0) 1509 223039 Fax +44 (0) 1509 223053
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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