Re: Role of arXiv

From: Simeon Warner <simeon.warner_at_CORNELL.EDU>
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2010 00:57:42 -0400

On Fri, Oct 08, 2010 at 04:36:26AM +0100, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> On Thu, 7 Oct 2010, Joseph Esposito wrote (in liblicense):
> >Finally, once again taking the centrality of arXiv to the
> >community it serves into consideration, what would happen if a
> >modest deposit fee were assessed--say, $50 per article?
> The IR cost per paper deposited will be closer to 50c than $50, once all
> universities are hosting their own output, and mandating that it be
> deposited.

I do not think the 50c number is supported by fact or by trend. I know
that for Cornell's IR the number is much closer to $50 than to 50c if
one divides cost to operate by the number of new submissions in the
same period. (I would love to see data for other IRs.)

For arXiv the number is <$7. We have the benefit of significant scale
(65k submissions/year) and a user community that require very little

This is not to say that IRs aren't worth the support from their local
institution! Compared with the cost of doing research resulting in an
article, $50 is pocket change. I think that a key driver for IRs is
that they align well funding with mission. At Cornell we consider it a
worthwhile service for our faculty to provide considerably more
support for the IR than arXiv could provide its users.

(As a side note I mention that at arXiv we consider free access and
free submission to be foundational and thus did not consider an
author-pays model. See for
more details of our business planning process.)

> >I am not
> >suggesting that this should or should not happen; I am simply
> >wondering what the outcome would be. (BioMed Central, PLoS, and
> >Hindawi all charge more than this, though they provide additional
> >services.) Would the number of deposits remain about the same?
> >Would the number drop? And if it dropped, how precipitously?
> Guess again! Once the burden of hosting, access-provision and archiving is
> offloaded onto each author's institution, the only service that journals
> will need to provide is peer review, and hence journals will be charging
> institutions a lot less than they are charging now. (Print editions as
> well as online editions and their costs will be gone too.)

Overlay journals are also very interesting and I hope will grow in
number. This does not seem to be happening yet though. A trend we see
right now is a rather problematic increase in the number of low
quality author-pays website-and-little-else online journals. They
aggressively promote their articles through open-access services such
as arXiv while established journals wrestle with the transition.

In all of this the tools necessary to use IR content effectively still
lag well behind the facilities offered by subject repositories. One
should also not underestimate the cost of building effective
collections over harvested data (see, for example, the NSDL experience ).

Received on Fri Oct 08 2010 - 05:57:57 BST

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