Re: Failing business models

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_Princeton.EDU>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 21:35:48 -0500

Were I an university administrator, I would be very reluctant to provide financial support for publish OA
articles in hybrid OA journals until there was a considerable amount of OA articles in the journal. If there is a
very low amount, the key advantages of OA will be lost. People without subscriptions will not even try to
access the articles in a journal unless they are aware they have a reasonable chance of success--for most
users I would guess this at 25%, and a far as I am aware PNAS is the only journal to have reached that
point. Only the most conscientious of ILL librarians would check this if the frequency were truly low, for it
would be cheaper to order a copy rather than have a 1% chance of getting it directly.

But PNAS has another reason for inducing people to check. The articles after several months are all available
with delayed OA. The odds then rise from 25% of just published articles to 100% 6 months back. If all one
has in Feb. 2007 a date in "2006", most people would learn to give it a try, especially because this particular
journal is likely to be used heavily enough for them to remember about it.

The generally used indexes--even those that do indicate OA availability in some form--do not indicate specific
articles in hybrid OA.

Are there any journals from your company where the amount of OA is anywhere near the PNAS figure?
If not, there is a barrier in credibility. You could perhaps diminish this by complementing the hybrid OA model
with delayed OA to all your titles.

This is less of a problem with Green OA, for in most fields the amount of archived articles is at least 15%,
and it is thus worth checking for a freely available copy using the Google Scholar/Google combination. If
people did use Google Scholar routinely, would they see that your articles are available? I don't think so--it
would be the same as in any conventional index.

David Goodman, Ph.D., M.L.S.
Bibliographer and Research Librarian
Princeton University Library

----- Original Message -----
From: "Velterop, Jan, Springer UK" <Jan.Velterop_at_SPRINGER.COM>
Date: Thursday, February 22, 2007 9:37 am
Subject: Re: [AMERICAN-SCIENTIST-OPEN-ACCESS-FORUM] Failing business models

> Fytton,
> You say that publishers should convert their journals to gold OA. I
> agree, of course. Hybrid models are a staging post in the
> transition process. What we shouldn't forget, though, is that the
> publishers cannot convert to gold OA in isolation. Unless
> librarians, funders, authors, university administrators, et cetera
> support such change, not only in word, but in deed, it will be
> problematic and very slow in coming. That support, I'm afraid,
> especially in deed, is still rather limited and fragmentary at the
> moment.
> Best,
> Jan
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum on behalf of J.F.B.Rowland
> Sent: Thu 2/22/2007 12:53 PM
> Subject: Re: Failing business models
> Thanks, Jan, for this very lucid explanation of the situation
> regarding subscription-based scholalrly publishing and why it is
> now dysfunctional.
> The publishers' Brussels Declaration spoke of a 'healthy,
> undistorted free market' in scholarly publishing. As your
> explanation shows, such a market does not exist at present - nor,
> indeed, has it ever. Each journal is a natural monopoly - you
> can't get the same content anywhere else. And the existence of a
> healthy free market has the prerequisite that 'he who pays the
> piper calls the tune'. In scholarly publishing this has never been
> the case. Authors control the journals (by their choice of where
> to submit their work) and it is there for their benefit; but
> libraries pay the bills.
> If the publishers mean what they say about a 'healthy, undistorted
> free market', they should convert their journals to Gold OA. Then
> we will finally reach the position where those who 'call the tune'
> actually 'pay the piper'.
> Fytton Rowland, Loughborough University, UK.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Velterop, Jan, Springer UK
> <mailto:Jan.Velterop_at_SPRINGER.COM>
> Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2007 10:34 AM
> Subject: Failing business models
> Dana Roth writes that "The primary problem with the current system
> is the failing business model followed by many commercial publishers."
> I presume she means the subscription model. Which, incidentally,
> is not just used by commercial publishers but also by not-for-
> profit ones.
> I agree with her. But it's not the use of the subscription model
> by commercial publishers that is the 'primary problem'. It is the
> fact that the subscription system cannot cope with the unrelenting
> growth of scientific articles that is being produced worldwide.
> Before the internet, the subscription model had increasing
> problems, but it was probably the least worst solution, by no means
> ideal. Now, with the internet working and pretty mature, we can
> have better systems. There definitely are publishers, for-profit as
> well as not-for-profit (just look at the recent press release of
> the DC Principles Coalition), who seem to be wedded to the
> subscription model, but not only publishers. Libraries, too, do not
> seem to be too keen on replacing the dysfunctional system with a
> better one. And even a school of thought in the OA advocate camp,
> the self-archiving champions, argue that the subscription system
> will continue to sustain journals.
> Of course there are difficulties to overcome if one wants to make
> the transition from one system to the next, and let's concentrate
> on overcoming those difficulties.
> The subscription system has the following problems (and quite
> possibly more):
> -The price to readers/libraries bears no relation to quality. This
> needs no further explanation, I guess.
> -The price to readers/libraries bears no relation to the amount
> per article that's taken out of the academic market. A 'cheap'
> journal can, on a per-article basis, take more money out of
> Academia than an 'expensive' journal. This is more common than is
> perhaps realised. A substantial number of not-for-profits have
> seemingly low subscription prices, but take more money per article
> out of the academic market than even the most expensive commercial
> publishers (where it hovers in the $5000 range). I know of several
> cases where it is twice or even three times as much, and if someone
> would care to analyse this information (it often is available, for
> not-for-profits), one might find even higher multiples.
> -The price to readers/libraries bears no relation to the cost of
> publishing, but rather, to the numbers of subscribers. This is the
> origin of the price spiral. Journals were cancelled, and for some
> reason commercial journals suffered more than not-for-profit
> journals, on the whole (with exceptions), as a result of which
> subscription prices went up. This caused further cancellations and
> thus the vicious cycle was created. One of the reasons why some not-
> for-profits have been able to maintain lower prices is the
> existence of cancellation-resistant compulsory member subscriptions.
> -The cost to libraries of subscriptions that are needed bears
> little relation to the size of the actual research or teaching
> efforts at the institute in question, but instead, reflects the
> width of the range of disciplines researched or taught. A
> specialised institute (take CERN as an example) needs no more than
> a handful of journals. On the other hand, a university where the
> name 'university' still relates to 'universal' knowledge, and where
> a wide range of subjects are taught and researched, needs vastly
> larger numbers of journals to satisfy the needs of its constituents.
> -Subscription price stability can only exist in an environment of
> stability of the number of subscriptions, and of articles
> published. But that environment doesn't exist. Library budgets have
> been under pressure for the longest time, which is especially
> apparent if they are expressed as a percentage of the research
> budgets. And the number of articles keep on growing.
> Most of these problems are solved in a system in which the
> 'publish or perish' culture (which is definitely not of the
> publishers' making) is reflected more transparently. A system in
> which research articles are seen for what they are: a kind of
> 'advertisement' in which the author 'advertises' his scientific
> prowess, in order to get acknowledgment, citations, leading to
> tenure, future funding, for a few the Nobel Prize, et cetera. That
> doesn't mean that articles aren't full of information useful to
> readers. But so are conventional advertisements.
> The advertising analogy is not perfect, but I'm using it to
> illustrate the point that there is logic in the system that levies
> charges for the processing and formal publication of research
> articles and subsequently makes them universally available with
> open access. Open access publishing.
> Jan Velterop
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum on behalf of Dana Roth
> Sent: Wed 2/21/2007 11:28 PM
> Subject: Re: Some initial thoughts on the Brussels Declaration on
> STM publishing
> The fact that something is possible doesn't mean it is advisable.
> There is a distinct advantage in having an organizational
> structure that
> one can depend on to maintain stability. Sure, the 'research
> community' can create their own journals, but who among them is
> going to give up
> their research and/or teaching to manage the process?
> The evolution of distributing research results, from circulating
> letters among peers to the formal journals we know today, occurred
> because of
> the obvious benefits in an organizational structure.
> The primary problem with the current system is the failing business
> model followed by many commercial publishers.
> Dana Roth
> Caltech
Received on Sat Feb 24 2007 - 04:20:53 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:46 GMT