Re: Online Self-Archiving: Distinguishing the Optimal from the Optional

From: Arthur P. Smith <apsmith_at_APS.ORG>
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2002 10:39:11 -0500

Stevan Harnad wrote:

>The following is a wild guess on my part (but, considering how
>conservative was my estimate of the number of would-be users, I think
>it's a well-buffered guess): I doubt that even 10% the planet's would-be
>users have access to even 10% of that annual corpus today.
In physics, at least, that's a wild underestimate - 10% of would-be
users for the research literature
in physics is about 20,000 people - our journals are accessible by over
100,000 researchers who use them actively (just from online usage
statistics); I'm not sure what fraction of the literature we publish,
but I believe it's in the neighborhood of 5-10%. So, assuming we're not
a major exception in accessibility among physics publishers (and I know
at least AIP and IOP's subscription numbers aren't that far behind
ours), you're way off on this one. Maybe it's true in medical or other
fields, but that level of access loss seems hard to believe.

>All that is still necessary from peer-reviewed journal publishers is
>a *service,* namely, peer review, and we already know how much that
>service alone would cost the planet: At the conservative estimate of
>$500 per article, it would cost $10,000,000 annually.
Uh, your math is way off there. The total would be $1 billion ($1000
million for clarity). And your $500 is after a factor-of-three
improvement in costs that isn't exactly available as yet.

> Now what do you
>think the planet is paying now, annually, for those 20,000 journals
>(collectively, in subscriptions, license, and pay-per-view, by those
>institutions that can currently afford it)?
I believe total current sales of scientific research journals is $5 - 10
billion/year. And I believe that number should be sufficient for close
to 100% access to 100%, if we could work out the business model
properly. Which is what the large site license approach and differential
pricing models are directed towards. Of course the total number will
have to grow as research volume increases, even so.

> If
>researchers don't have open-access now, because they have not done what
>the authors of 200,000 papers in physics, 500,000 papers in computer
>science, and who knows how many other authors have already done -- namely,
>to provide immediate open access to their own peer-reviewed research
>output by self-archiving it -- then they have only themselves, and
>definitely not their publishers, to blame.
Well... readers have authors to blame (as well as publishers)... they're
not always the same people, you know.


Received on Thu Dec 12 2002 - 15:39:11 GMT

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