Re: ALPSP statement on BOAI

From: Sally Morris <sec-gen_at_ALPSP.ORG>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 16:06:18 -0000

Isn't Stevan's position a bit like making chocolates free and suggesting
that people pay for the box if they want to?

Seriously though, ALPSP is currently carrying out another large-scale
research study to ask academics what they think - and do - about all types
of electronic publication, both traditional and new. The results may help
us move this issue forward. In the meantime, ALPSP remains convinced that
much of what traditional publishing does will continue to be of value. We
therefore urge the development and testing of alternative business models
before, and not after, moving to a 'give it all away' framework which risks
pulling down what people do value, as well as what they don't.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Stevan Harnad" <>
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2002 10:42 AM
Subject: Re: ALPSP statement on BOAI

> On Tue, 19 Feb 2002, Arthur P. Smith wrote:
> > On Sun, 17 Feb 2002, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> > > This is an empirical question, and one that the ALPSP opinion survey
> > > a few years ago could not possibly answer. Only the market can answer
> > > it, by testing whether scholars (actually, the institutions who pay
> > > their subscriptions) value the part of formal publication that goes
> > > above and beyond peer review to pay for it EVEN IF IT IS NOT FORCIBLY
> > > CO-BUNDLED WITH PEER REVIEW: If given a choice between paying for peer
> > > review alone, and paying for the rest, of which peer review is only a
> > > part, will institutions (on behalf of their scholars) want to keep
> > > paying for the rest?
> >
> > Huh? How is that the question? Why exactly are institutions the only
> > ones who can legitimately represent their scholars?
> That's not what I meant! What I meant was that (for most journals) it is
> institutional subscriptions and licenses that pay the bills, not
> individual ones.
> So, of course it is the individual researchers whose needs and wishes
> matter, but it is the university subscription/license that
> represents and implements them.
> > And why is
> > it that the only consideration here at all is what the "scholars"
> > want anyway? Don't we have a very broad consituency to consider?
> > Researchers, certainly, but also students,
> Yes, of course, researchers in the making.
> > researchers in distant disciplines,
> Not sure what you mean. I suppose university libraries looking to
> optimize a finite serials budget consult other disciplines than than
> the core one when it comes to cancellation decisions, but I'm not sure
> what your point is: Unaffiliated researchers? Field workers far from
> the Internet? Rather peripheral questions, I should think, with obvious
> answers...
> > historians,
> Historians? As a constraint on how on whether to purchase peer-review
> only, or the add-ons (paper, PDF)?
> > and yes, perhaps, scholarly societies and their long
> > historical association with disciplines,
> Ditto: Would individual researchers and their institutions KNOWINGLY
> agree to subsidize their societies' other "good works" (meetings,
> fellowships, prizes , membership costs, lobbying) at the cost of
> their own research's impact, if the trade-off, and the alternatives,
> were actually made clear to them, and dissociable, through unbudling, so
> they can actually vote, with their eyes open?
> Continuing the Gutenberg-era co-bundling of peer review and all the
> rest, now that it is no longer necessary, simply conceals these
> contingencies, and possibilities.
> > and the fundamental
> > needs of "science" itself, for the health of each discipline?
> Yes, let there be full disclosure, full unbundling, and let scientists
> and their institutions make an informed choice among the true options,
> discipline by discipline.
> Prediction: The benefits or maximizing impact and access will far, far
> outweigh all other factors.
> > So who should decide whose priorities matter? Well, I have no
> > problem with empirical evidence and the wishes of the market; aside
> > from Stevan's pipe dreams about peer review not "forcibly co-bundled"
> > with other add-ons (there used to be a LOT of journals that published
> > camera-ready articles and only did peer review - were they evidence
> > for a market for this?) one could take a detailed look at the current
> > market for research publications and, I believe, learn quite a lot...
> I'm not sure what Arthur means. Peer review is not a red/green light
> decision on camera-ready fodder. It is a dynamic, interactive
> quality-control process, sometimes involving several rounds of revision
> and re-refereeing, for which the online medium is optimally suited.
> Right now, as a legacy of the Gutenberg era, the peer-review SERVICE
> (to the author-institution) is forcibly co-bundled with add-ons (paper
> edition, publisher's PDF) that are sold exclusively as a PRODUCT (to
> the reader-institution).
> This is what must be unbundled, so the market can take an informed
> decision on whether it wants, needs, and wishes to continue to pay for
> all of them, or just the peer review. While they are forcibly co-bundled,
> the market's informed decision can never be tested or made;
> self-archiving forcible unbundles them so it can.
> > But at least ALPSP is doing some real research on some of the issues,
> > rather than just dealing in anecdotes, speculation and wishful
> > thinking... give them some suggestions for new studies and I'm sure
> > they'd be willing to give them careful consideration.
> I have indeed given ALPSP some very specific suggestions for how they
> might phrase their questions in a less biassed way, so as to get a
> better idea of what authors WOULD want, if it were available:
> ALPSP Research study on academic journal authors
> We also have some newer and fuller data of our own:
> But, in the end, opinion surveys, with hypothetical options, are no
> substitute for actually sampling the options in practice. (What Simon
> says is often not Simon does, or would do.) Self-archiving, and
> sampling the rewards it confers (in impact and access) will allow
> authors and readers to make an informed choice by unbundling the
> options.
> As I've said many times before, though, the empirical data so far are
> these:
> (1) Self-archiving is increasing (physics, 200K, computer
> science 500K, other disciplines ???).
> (2) Users make heavy use of the self-archived research.
> (3) Self-archiving is correlated with impact (for high impact
> authors and papers).
> But:
> (4) So far, self-archiving has not led to any significant
> cancellation pressure, even in the disciplines where it is most
> advanced.
> So it is quite possible that there will continue to be a demand for the
> add-ons even when all refereed drafts are available online for free, in
> perpetuum.
> But that's just fine! Then we don't have to worry about a new
> business model to pay the essential costs of peer review: they
> will continue to be fully covered by the steady market for the
> add-ons as they were in Gutenberg days. But access to the vanilla
> peer-reviewed draft will be free; and everyone will be happy.
> If that happens, I will be the first to happily concede that the
> add-ons were worth continuing to pay for after all. The goal was never
> to ruin or needlessly restructure journals, but merely to make sure no
> would-be user is ever unable to access any refereed research because he
> or his institution cannot afford the access tolls.
> But to confirm that that's true, we must push on with getting
> all refereed research self-archived!
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Mar 07 2002 - 18:12:20 GMT

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