[From: FOS Newsletter http://makeashorterlink.com/?Z53834B71
Interview with Ingenta CEO Mark Rowse
In my last issue (FOSN for 6/17/02) I wondered why Ingenta had appointed
such an FOS-friendly advisory board. Ingenta produces electronic editions
of scholarly journals for publishers of print journals. So far Ingenta
produces no FOS or open-access journals.
On July 15 I had a wide-ranging telephone interview with Mark Rowse,
Ingenta's CEO, who answered my earlier question and many others.
The short answer to my original question is that Rowse sees no conflict
between FOS and Ingenta's current business. He wants to know what's
happening in the FOS domain, wants Ingenta to advance some of the goals of
the FOS movement (more below), and wants to position his company beyond the
sometimes politicized conflicts in the scholarly communication industry
For Rowse scholarly journal articles are not merely free or priced. They
evolve, and are often both free and priced at different times or in
different versions. In the earliest stages, they are usually free, for
example in presentations at conferences and informal email
discussions. They might also be free at some middle stages, such as
circulating preprints to colleagues or posting them to a preprint
exchange. The final stage tends to be publication in a peer-reviewed
journal. Rowse does not rule out making this final stage free as well,
but points out that, even when it is priced, it is compatible with free
distribution of the earlier versions at earlier stages.
Rowse believes that publishers are starting to recognize the legitimacy
of free versions of published articles. This is shown by their growing
acceptance of eprint archiving, at least of preprints.
Having said this, Rowse emphasized that Ingenta is not a publisher and
does not want to become one. Others can solicit content and organize
its peer review. Ingenta's niche is to produce the ejournal of the
Rowse's openness to free distribution of preprints is one factor that
led Ingenta into the eprint services business.
Background: On July 1, Ingenta announced its plan to produce a
commercial version of the eprints software developed at Southampton
University. Eprints is the open-source software for creating OAI-compliant
institutional archives. The Southampton version of the software will
remain free and open source, and will continue to undergo development. The
free Southampton version and priced Ingenta version will coexist and
serve different constituencies.
Rowse is betting that some institutions will not want to bother installing
and maintaining an eprints archive, even if the software is free. Ingenta
will take on these jobs for institutions willing to outsource them, as
well as the job of uploading content to the archives, a follow-through
step that many institutions neglect. Institutions will choose whether
to host the archives themselves or have Ingenta host them. The even
when Ingenta hosts them, the archives will be open-access. For many
institutions, Rowse believes that hiring Ingenta will cost less than
doing the same work themselves.
Rowse can't yet estimate the release date for the commercial version of
the software. Ingenta is still writing the code and considering different
Though Ingenta will sell the software and related services, Rowse
does not expect them to produce a significant portion of company
revenue. Ingenta has other reasons for entering the eprints and OAI
services business. First, it would like to assure the consistency of the
metadata generated by different archives at different institutions. It
would like to provide researchers with searching tools that cover both
refereed and unrefereed content, perhaps with different tabs on a search
results page. It would like to interest commercial publishers in the OAI
metadata harvesting protocol, even if these publishers will never adopt
open access. It would like to enhance the protocol for various value-added
research functions. In all these ways, it would like to make the free
and priced worlds interoperable. Above all, it would like to be involved
in scholarly communication at every stage in the life of an article.
Finally, I asked whether Ingenta had considered producing open-access
journals. The answer is yes, but Rowse noted that he has never been
approached by an open-access journal.
Ingenta's expertise includes the DRM system that limits online access to
a journal's paid subscribers. But Ingenta only enforces the access rules
requested by its publisher clients. Open-access journals might not have
considered Ingenta in the past, because they would not take advantage of
its DRM (true) or because they believed Ingenta was committed to priced
access (untrue). But Ingenta is willing to produce ejournals for anyone,
whether they wish to use its DRM or not. In fact, because open-access
journals would use fewer of Ingenta's services, Ingenta could charge them
less for production and hosting. (Ingenta would not compete with companies
like BMC, for the same reason that Ingenta would not become a publisher.)
Since the question hasn't yet arisen, Rowse can't give a price
for this service. But he invites open-access journals to contact him to
discuss it. It's possible that Ingenta's experience and economies of scale
would make its production costs lower than other alternatives.
Ingenta home page
Ingenta announcement of its Open Archive and E-Print services
Open Archives Initiative
For more on Ingenta's support for online scholarship, see its June 25
acquisition of BIDS, the non-profit academic bibliographic service in the UK.
...and its study of the impact of site licensing and library consortia on
academic journal publishing.
* PS. Some publishers ask Ingenta to allow free access to their
contents. Here's one example,
Journal of the Association of Laboratory Automation (current issue)
The only snag is that articles are only "available for download for 24
hours". I don't know what this time limit means in practice. But if it is
enforced, then this is free access without open access in the full sense.
But that is only how one journal chose to regulate access. I recommend
that fully open-access journals take Mark Rowse at his word. If you are
comparing prices for mark-up, hosting, and production (just about
everything but editing), then ask Ingenta for quote.
Copyright (c) 2002, Peter Suber
Received on Fri Aug 09 2002 - 20:17:18 BST