Re: The True Cost of the Essentials

From: Mark Doyle <doyle_at_APS.ORG>
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2002 12:24:55 -0500

Greetings Ebs,

Well, I hope this doesn't qualify as "bombing".

On Wednesday, April 3, 2002, at 04:12 AM, Eberhard R. Hilf wrote:

> APS asks for a solid proposition for a future scenario with a sound
> business model?
> It seems that you start from assuming that the short cut of free access
> full texts available on the web from the author to the reader
> (by either his server, distributed services or central archives)
> is inevitable. Thats fine.

Yes, I think it is pretty much inevitable. Whether that means our current
subscription model will fail completely is unknown, but that too seems
likely to me as well.

> The future role of the learned societies such as APS as the leading one
> in
> Physics is the same as ever: serve the physicists with
> professional services for their daily work.
> APS as society's information management competence center instead of
> document distribution center.

Certainly there is a role for the APS in creating services that help
carry out research. But I wouldn't say "instead of document
distribution" - we
still feel that carrying out peer review and ensuring the archiving of
high quality
physics research is part of our mission. This may not be the case in the
but we think that it will be.

> That means here: a bundle of services to manage scientific documents:
> * intelligent personalized retrieval
> * crossreference across all sources, including inst.-webservers,
> * virtual subfield collections and alerting

All great services.

> * professional offline refereeing (refereeing after dissemination of the
> documents, and independent of where it resides (even across publishers
> of
> course); closest to this is the successful 'living reviews of
> Gen.Relativity', although far too slow), that is referees who are
> experts
> (and might even be paid by APS) to oversee actively their field and the
> new papers and read them and referee/summarize openly.

We do think about alternative forms of peer review. I agree that review
will be an important layer and that journals like Reviews of Modern
will become more important and will probably evolve.

> * permanently updating collection of authors tools to help them writing
> and transferring to MathML/XML in a 'state of the art' way.
> [Revtex 4 was in that respect at that time the best tool by concept].
> * etc.

Yes! (Thanks for the REVTeX 4 compliment.)

> The business model follows from this:
> * registered users [Members of the society APS or associated societies
> (DPG) for free, who paid with their fee: thus contracts with the other
> major societies (how much per member would be an estimate?]
> * registered Institutes, Libraries
> * anyone from Industry by registration (highest fee,..).

A subscription model - that is fine. Value added services should support
themselves. I don't think these services are any where near enough
to support the traditional peer review process though (I can't tell if
you are saying
we should give up on this as well).

> [500.000 physicists worldwide make up thus
> for 50 Mill. $ per year, enough?]

Not sure. Is traditional peer review still needed? We spend millions a
on just that. APS's current journals budget is about $26 million per year
and it "breaks even".

> Transition period: charge the printed copies of APS much higher, and
> reduce the online versions gradually to zero.

Can't do this. Our printed copies are already priced so that they cover
the extra costs related to their creation and distribution. Making us
more dependent on the doomed and collapsing print would be disastrous.
The services you listed above are not enough to generate the income
we need to continue to do the peer review and other essential things
related to the journals. A better way forward in my view is to try to
get each value added service explicitly paid for upfront, whether it
is traditional peer review, alerting services, living reviews, etc.

> Dear Mark, I am shure you will quickly bomb down these naive
> propositions.

Sorry, if I did...

> But still I would be glad for an answer. Since DPG is starting a server,
> where we invited APS to join with services and which could serve as a
> marketing place for these services

APS of course is interested in developing new services. But the priority
us right now is figuring out what (if anything) is needed to continue to
publish our journals which the community still find exceedingly valuable.


Mark Doyle
Manager, Product Development
The American Physical Society
Received on Thu Apr 04 2002 - 18:58:07 BST

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