A final thought Re: PR's 'pit bull'?

From: Dana Roth <dzrlib_at_LIBRARY.CALTECH.EDU>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2007 16:12:04 -0800

I find it somewhat surprising that there has been very little mention of
the importance of scientific societies in the publication of their
respective scholarship. I was reminded of this by an ironic news item in
the latest Elsevier Library Connect newsletter
http://libraryconnect.elsevier.com/lcn/0501/lcn050107.html entitled "A
Student Perspective on the Serials Crisis".

This article was based on a Master of Engineer Project in Cornell's
School of Operations Research and Industrial Engineering designed as an
"Operational Analysis of Scholarly Journal Publication and Access
Alternatives in the Digital Age." Their "call to action was a call for
compromise from all sides: Authors pay a little, libraries continue
paying via reduced subscription fees, and publishers reducing fees and
broadening revenue streams.

This is exactly the business model currently followed by the
Electrochemical Society and the Society for Neuroscience and was the
general practice for society publications (e.g. ACS, APS) before Robert
Maxwell and the crush of commercial journals which began in the 1960s.

Because of their very modestly funded business model, societies were
reluctant to publish new titles, a chore that commercial publishers
relished because they did not require author page charges and could
easily afford to launch new titles with revenue from their substantial

I hope we can put the 'Serials Problem' in perspective and recognize
that society publishers are and will continue to be absolutely essential
and that the main cause of the problem we are discussing is commercial
journal profit margins.

In this regard, compare, for example, the 2005 price/page for:

Inorganic Chemistry(ACS) $0.26
Inorganica Chim. Acta(Els) $1.88

Organic Letters(ACS) $0.65
Tetrahedron Letters(Els) $1.60

Biomacromolecules(ACS) $0.30
Biopolymers(Wiley) $3.70

The avoidance of distinguishing between society and commercial
publishers seems disingenuous at best and the distinction must be part
of any serious discussion. Additional data is available at

Dana L. Roth
Millikan Library / Caltech 1-32
1200 E. California Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91125
626-395-6423 fax 626-792-7540
Received on Wed Jan 31 2007 - 02:49:46 GMT

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