Re: Should Publishers Offer Free-Access Services?

From: Thomas J. Walker <tjwalker_at_MAIL.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 10:14:51 -0500

The exchange copied at the end of this posting prompted me to ask this

Why hasn't APS offered its authors, at a fair price, a valuable service
that all would want and many would buy--namely, the service of posting an
author's APS-formatted article on arXiv?

[Currently authors sign a copyright agreement that denies them the right to
do this themselves.]

The advantage to the authors would be that the paper-archived version of
their refereed articles would be on arXiv, and they (the authors) would be
relieved of the bother of having to prepare and post their own
less-attractive and less-authentic versions of their final paper if they
wanted users of arXiv to directly access it.

[Authors can already post the APS-formatted version on their own home
pages, but as Andrew Odlyzko has documented, _any_ impediment to access
reduces the use of information (The Rapid Evolution of Scholarly
and, as Stevan continually reminds us, attention to their articles is what
authors of the journal literature want.]

The advantage to APS would be that it would be making money from providing
a service for which many authors would be willing to pay a fair
price. (Currently a fair price should be quite low; Entomological Society
of America [ESA] prices a similar service for 75% the price of 100 reprints.)

That such a service might be popular is suggested by these data: for the
latest issues of two of ESA's journals (Environmental Entomology and
Journal of Economic Entomology), 64% of authors thought it worthwhile to
pay for immediate free Web access to their refereed, ESA-formatted articles
( [If ESA succeeds
in having its immediate-free-access articles immediately accessible through
PubMed Central, its service will become even more comparable to what is
suggested above for APS .]

If APS has not yet asked its members whether they favor or oppose APS
offering the service described above, perhaps it should.

Tom Walker

At 07:59 PM 12/19/2001 +0000, you wrote:
>On Tue, 18 Dec 2001 Arthur P. Smith <apsmith_at_APS.ORG> wrote:
> > if publishing free literature really involved no copy-editing, we would
> > likely never do it, as a publisher with a historical interest in certain
> > publication standards.... Just my opinion, really...
> > The society has stated goals to "advance and diffuse the knowledge
> > of physics" which is more about publishing quality "content" than
> > "doing peer review". We [APS] manage the peer review as part of
> > publishing journals of course, that's how we determine what's worth
> > putting in our journals. But if the journals ceased to really mean
> > anything in terms of improved presentation of the content, I
> > suspect we would just sell the business to whoever wanted it;
> > Elsevier probably.
>It's my opinion that in this case Arthur's opinion does not
>represent the APS (Marty?)... It think that if the Physics
>community should ever decide that all it wants/needs is peer
>review, APS will then faithfully provide that, rather than
>ceding the titles...
>In any case, the extent to which copy-editing is worth paying
>for, over and above peer review, is surely something the
>market could decide, once the online access to the peer-reviewed
>draft was free. (APS is generously freeing access even to its
>proprietary, copy-edited drafts, by allowing its authors to
>self-archive them, although this rather moots the market decision!
> )
>Stevan Harnad

Thomas J. Walker
Department of Entomology & Nematology
PO Box 110620 (or Natural Area Drive)
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
E-mail: (or
FAX: (352)392-0190
Received on Thu Dec 20 2001 - 16:29:53 GMT

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