Re: Self-archiving, journal usage and cancellations

From: Steve Hitchcock <>
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 2005 17:43:55 +0100

Since this discussion has become quite long and involved, perhaps it is
worth summing up the OA options for journal publishers:

easy: green (e.g. Elsevier)
risk-free (for now): hybrid (subscription + OA-by-author/paper) and green
(two income streams for the price of one, e.g. Springer)
tricky: gold (start up as a new OA publisher; or slowly, cautiously
launch/transform journal by journal)
risky: do nothing (not green, no OA)

So Sally's reservations appear to rule out the easy option - just so long
as her members know this.

While the focus of this list has tended towards what the researcher should
do, it is worth noting that from the publisher's perspective there are
other players on the chess board, so I've highlighted a couple of the more
significant players above, and taken them into account in the assessment.


At 14:03 05/10/2005, Sally Morris (ALPSP) wrote:
>On 16 September Stevan Harnad said on this listserv:
>"[Research Fortnight] The Institute of Physics has already seen article
>downloads from its site diminish for journals whose content is
>substantially replicated in a repository, says ALPSP.
>[SH rejoinder] This statement is false, and is the exact opposite of
>what the Institute of Physics has said (Swan & Brown 2005)"
>I was correctly paraphrased by the Research Fortnight journalist; my
>statement (in our letter to RCUK), which he claims was false, was actually
>as follows:
>"Increasingly, librarians are making use of COUNTER-compliant (and
>therefore comparable) usage statistics to guide their decisions to renew
>or cancel journals. The Institute of Physics Publishing is therefore
>concerned to see that article downloads from its site are significantly
>lower for those journals whose content is substantially replicated in the
>arXiv repository than for those which are not."
>The IOP evidence to which I referred was publicised by them on 5th
>September in a posting from Ken Lillywhite to various listservs, of which
>I assume Stevan was aware. For completeness I will repeat it here:
>"Recent claims made by some of those who advocate the mandatory deposit of
>published articles in institutional and subject repositories prompt us to
>correct and clarify the relationship between physics journals and the
>physics e-print archive
>It has been claimed that because physics publishers have co-existed with
>the arXiv over the past 14 years, publishers have nothing to fear about
>the future. We take the opportunity to point out that the past is not
>always a good predictor of future
>Ever since the launch of the physics e-print archive in 1991, authors
>publishing in IOP Publishing journals have had the choice to post their
>preprints to the service. However, we do note that article downloads from
>our site are significantly lower for those journals whose content is
>substantially replicated in the arXiv repository than for those which are
>not, after usage statistics have been normalized to take account of
>journal size.
>Usage statistics (e.g., ProjectCOUNTER) are now increasingly used as a
>'value for money' measure in the library
>community and elsewhere. Clearly, as usage statistics become more
>commonplace, it would be only natural for
>cash-strapped librarians to conclude that subscriptions to low-use ^
>albeit high-quality, peer-reviewed ^ journals
>are no longer necessary. In this situation subscription-based journals
>published by a learned society such as
>ourselves would become economically unviable."
>What's more, there is anecdotal evidence that some librarians, at least,
>do have both the power and the inclination to cancel subscriptions to
>journals which are not being used. See, for example, Bob Michaelson's
>(Northwestern University) posting to PAMNET on 15 September:
>"Surely you know that physicists use the free depository arXiv as their
>primary source for physics information - to such an extent that some
>long-established physics journals such as Nuclear Physics now have
>scarcely any readers (we know this because we have the online
>statistics)... " Bob subsequently confirmed to me that he does, indeed,
>use low usage statistics as one reason for cancellation.
>I am assured that the IOP spokesperson to whom Alma Swan spoke included
>the all-important word 'yet' - as in 'we have not seen greater
>cancellations yet'. Other publishers tell me that they have also
>observed significantly lower usage for journals most of whose content can
>be found in arXiv.
>Thus my statement was not false. If Stevan had been aware of the evidence
>upon which it was based, as I assume he was, then he should have known
>that my statement was not false and should, I feel, apologise publicly to
>ALPSP in consequence.
>Sally Morris, Chief Executive
>Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
>South House, The Street, Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3UU, UK
>Tel: +44 (0)1903 871 686
>Fax: +44 (0)1903 871 457
>Email: <>
Received on Thu Oct 06 2005 - 18:21:01 BST

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