59.2 FULL TEXT AND COMMENTS ON PERGAMON PLUS PLAN, Lois Heiser
59.3 SUSPICIOUS QUESTIONNAIRE ON SERIALS, Peter Graham and Margaret Maes Axtmann
59.4 FROM THE EDITOR: THE UBELL SURVEY, Marcia Tuttle
59.1 "PERGAMON PLUS"
David Flaxbart, Chemistry Library, University of Texas at Austin, email@example.com.
Has anyone seen or reacted to Pergamon's latest ploy? A faculty member in the Chemistry Department (and editor of one of their major journals) forwarded to me a letter from Pergamon announcing their new "Pergamon PLUS" program, or "Pergamon Library User Support."
This program will allow authors of papers accepted by a Pergamon journal to nominate any library to receive a 25-pound "credit" good toward the purchase of any Pergamon title. While any library may be nominated, Pergamon is encouraging authors to select from a list of "approved libraries/institutes in developing countries" rather than their home libraries. While Pergamon handles the accounting status for recipients, libraries may accumulate credits and use them much later. The announcement states that the program will begin with earth science titles in 1993 and expand to all titles in 1994.
For me, initial optimism was replaced with cynicism toward this program. Even at a large institution like the University of Texas, the amount of credit received would likely be offset by the costs of keeping track of it. Example: UT researchers published 4 articles in _Tetrahedron_, a major chemistry journal, in 1988-89. This would be worth about $180 in credit for our library. _Tetrahedron_ cost $4,783 in 1992. Smaller institutions publishing less might not even want to bother with it, and I'm not sure a large library would either.
The whole program sounds to me like a ploy by Pergamon to defuse recent accusations of indifference to library budget problems by presenting authors with a plan that makes the publisher look magnanimous. Meanwhile the prices continue to soar and the problem gets worse. By encouraging authors to nominate foreign libraries, they may also be looking to expand their subscription base into new markets, though I find it hard to believe any cash-strapped library abroad would suddenly spring for a Pergamon title costing thousands after receiving a few hundred dollars in credits. I'm curious to hear other views on this latest maneuver.
59.2 FULL TEXT AND COMMENTS ON PERGAMON PLUS PLAN
Lois Heiser, Geology Library, Indiana University, firstname.lastname@example.org. First distributed on GEONET-L and submitted by Steve Foote, Emory University. Used with permission.
In order to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation of the Pergamon PLUS plan, the following is the full text of the letter sent to the Pergamon Press journal Editor:
Pergamon PLUS - Pergamon Library User Support
What is Pergamon PLUS?
1. Pergamon PLUS will enable authors of articles published in Pergamon journals to award credits to the library of their choice for the purchase of any Pergamon journal.
2. Each time a paper is accepted for publication in a Pergamon journal, the corresponding (senior) author will receive a credit for 25 pounds to be awarded to any library of his or her choosing.
3. Scientists in the developing world and in former communist countries have particular difficulty in accessing the current literature. Pergamon will maintain a list of libraries and institutes in these countries to which authors will be encouraged to award credits.
How will it work?
1. When an article is accepted for publication the corresponding (senior) author will receive, together with the proofs (or upon acceptance, if a camera-ready journal), a form which will allow the author to nominate the library of his or her choice to receive a credit for 25 pounds. This form should be completed and returned to Pergamon Press.
2. A list of approved libraries/institutes in developing countries will accompany the form to enable the author to allocate the credit to one of these, should this option be chosen.
3. Pergamon will record and maintain the credit status of each library, and will send a regular statement to libraries together with the appropriate amount in credit vouchers. Authors awarding credits will be acknowledged in the statements.
4. Libraries may accumulate credits over several years and use them towards the purchase of any Pergamon journal.
When does it start?
1. Pergamon Plus will initially be offered to authors in selected Pergamon earth science journals. This will enable us to measure reaction, monitor performance and iron out any problems prior to full scale implementation. It is planned to launch the scheme for the earth science journals in early 1993.
2. It is planned to launch the full scheme for all Pergamon journals for the 1994 subscription year.
How do I obtain information?
As an Editor of a Pergamon journal, you will be kept informed of progress on Pergamon PLUS on a regular basis. Should you wish to have further specific information, please contact:
Dr. Peter Shepherd Tel: 0865 743500 Publishing Director Fax: 0865 743954 Pergamon Press Ltd Headington Hill Hall e-mail: (Earn/Bitnet) Oxford OX3 OBW England Pergpts@uk.ac.rl.ib END of Flyer
Questions posed by Lois Heiser:
Has Pergamon informed libraries about this plan?
How does this work when a library pays a vendor for a the subscription to a Pergamon title?
Should a credit generated by an Earth Science journal article be applied to a Biology journal invoice?
Why doesn't Pergamon just reduce all of our subscriptions by a comparable amount instead of all of this paperwork?
If the corresponding (senior) author assigns the credit to an Estonian University, why should Indiana University pay full price and in effect make an unwilling, unknowing donation?
Suggestions from Lois Heiser:
Inform your purchasing unit about this program!
Inform your faculty if you think any such credits should be applied to your journal invoices, or become involved with them on selecting a "sister" institution where all credits would apply.
Complain about Pergamon PRICES in general.
59.3 SUSPICIOUS QUESTIONNAIRE ON SERIALS
Peter Graham, Rutgers University Libraries, GRAHAM@ZODIAC.BITNET; Margaret Maes Axtmann, University of Minnesota Law Library, M-AXTM@vm1.spcs.umn.edu.
>From Peter Graham:
I've just received at home an 11/2 letter from Robert Ubell Associates purporting to be doing "an important research project studying the professional lives" of librarians, though in fact it is a questionnaire heavily related to how one's library spends on journals. Mark Tesoriero, who signs the letter as Director of Research, explicitly says that the firm of Ubell "has been asked by a group of concerned publishers...to investigate the future of the US library journals marketplace."
I'm deeply suspicious of the goals and motives of such a survey and would like to initiate a discussion of it in SPN. I would like Ubell to identify who is asking them to do this survey, and ask either Ubell or the sponsors to identify just what they expect to learn that they could not find out from dealing with the more or less organized representatives of the library community. In addition, I'm curious about how many people got this.
The form calls for return by Nov. 27 (and the first 100 respondents will have a donation of unspecified amount made to their favorite charity).
>From Margaret Maes Axtmann (first posted on COLLDV-L and used with permission):
I received a copy of the Robert Ubell survey. It is billed as "an important research project studying the professional lives of scientific, technical and medical librarians." The questions concern budget, vendor services, factors used in renewing or cancelling journals, scope of collection, etc. The cover letter states that the firm was asked by a group of concerned publishers and purveyors of scientific and technical journals to investigate the future of the US library journals marketplace. It also states that donations will be made to the designated charities of the first 100 completed responses.
I am certain that the survey was sent using an ALA-generated mailing list. It certainly was not sent to a carefully targeted group of sci-tech librarians or I would not have received one. Other surveys of this type have generated discussion on the nets. I too would like to hear what people think of this method of data gathering.
59.4 FROM THE EDITOR: THE UBELL SURVEY
Marcia Tuttle, email@example.com.
In the light of the above and other questions and comments about the Ubell survey, I called Robert Ubell Associates yesterday and spoke with Mark Tesoriero about it. He did not have time to write the statement I requested, but he did fax me the survey, the covering letter, and significant parts of the prospectus sent to publishers soliciting their participation in the project. I shall summarize our conversation and reprint parts of the prospectus.
Robert Ubell Associates, Inc., is a New York market research and consulting firm, with emphasis on science and technology. Clients include commercial publishers, learned societies, etc. Realizing that libraries' budget cuts are of great concern to both large and small sci-tech publishers and that these publishers for the most part have not evaluated their journal programs in many years, Ubell initiated the project that includes the questionnaire discussed above.
The first phase of the project was holding focus groups in Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Diego, with the goal of learning how librarians evaluate the journals in their collections for purchase, retention or cancellation. The mail survey is the second step, and its questions cover isues that came out during the focus groups. It was sent to 18.000 (supposedly) sci-tech librarians drawn from lists rented from the large library associations.
Concerning the donation to charity for the first 100 completed responses, Tesoriero said that Ubell had wanted to reward members of the focus groups in some way for helping the publishers, but they discovered that most librarians were not permitted to accept any "gift." The donation was the best reward they could think of. They did not want this to be a barrier; no library or librarian's name had to be revealed, and the responder names the charity.
The following is the text of the Executive Summary of the prospectus for "Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishing in U.S. Library Markets into the 1990s: A Multi-Client Research Project by Robert Ubell Associates."
This survey is designed to elicit responses regarding the future of scientific, technical and medical periodical publishing in the U.S. library marketplace through 1995. It targets issues of critical importance to periodical publishers and subscription agents; e.g., rising prices and shrinking subscription bases, effect of electronic products on print periodicals, and the future focus of public and private funding. The survey employs qualitative techniques (personal interviews and focus groups) as well as quantitative means (mail questionnaires and telephone surveys).
- Three focus groups are planned, one each in an East Coast, West Coast and Mid-west location to elicit qualitative data from different areas of the country. Participants for all groups will be selected from lists also to be used in the mail survey. A typical focus group will be comprised of fifteen participants selected to represent the demographic make-up of each library market segment.
- Mail questionnaires will be sent to members of various library associations. Approximately 18,000 surveys will be mailed.
- Telephone interviews will be employed to confirm and augment the mail survey results. A minimum of 100 to 300 telephone responses will be collected.
- Personal interviews will be scheduled to gather additional qualitative information. Interviews will be scheduled with prominent figures in their fields in order to gain their perspectives on issues covered in the survey. Between six and twelve interviews are planned.
By polling professional librarians with these methods, the survey pinpoints subtle trends and abrupt shifts in periodical budgeting and library buying patterns and projects them into the future -- thus providing publishers with the critical details they need to make informed decisions on the effectiveness of their current and future editorial, marketing, pricing and distribution strategies.
Only Charter Participants may collaborate in the design of questionnaires and focus-group scripts, and may submit up to five additional questions or key issues to be explored in each study.
Charter Participants may attend any of the three focus-group sessions. Participating clients will receive videotapes of all three focus-group sessions.
Charter Participants will meet with Robert Ubell Associates staff to identify issues and review drafts of questionnaires and scripts, allowing clients to contribute to the design and objectives of the study. Individual reports on each data collection method will be delivered to clients prior to the final report.
The results of the study will be totally confidential. Only participating clients will be entitled to receive copies of reports and videotapes. Neither the press nor any other party will be given access to the results.
End of text.
Although I did not receive a copy of the survey in the mail (our Western European Humanities Bibliographer and a library science graduate student did), I now possess two copies! I'm glad I did not receive a copy, because I would hate to feel an obligation to answer the questions. In my opinion, few of the 18,000 librarians would have access to some of the data requested. My library has no separate budget line for "secondary publications," for example. I wonder if *any* of us could project accurately the situation three years from now. I find it interesting that in question 15, "Please indicate the importance of the following in your decision to cancel a journal subscription," pricing is not mentioned.
Despite my feelings about the questionnaire itself (and I realize that questionnaires are difficult to do well), my conversation with Mark Tesoriero convinced me that the study is quite legitimate and is in no way related to certain previous surveys we know about. I have just returned from the Society for Scholarly Publishing's Top Mangement Roundtable. My strongest impression was a concluding statement by co-chair Chet Grycz to the effect that the problems faced in scholarly communication are difficult and complex; there are no easy solutions, and there is no single solution; the first steps publishers and librarians are taking together in joint ventures may well help to save the scholarly communication system. While the Ubell project is being done for the benefit of publishers, libraries and their patrons should benefit as well.
This newsletter issue is long, but I believe necessarily so. We will be happy to include your comments about either Pergamon PLUS or the Ubell survey in future issues.
Readers of the NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES are encouraged to share the information in the newsletter by electronic or paper methods. We would appreciate credit if you quote from the newsletter.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES (ISSN: 1046-3410) is published by the editor through the Office of Information Technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as news is available. Editor: Marcia Tuttle, Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org; Paper mail: Serials Department, CB #3938 Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27599-3938; Telephone: 919 962-1067; FAX: 919 962-0484. Editorial Board: Deana Astle (Clemson University), Jerry Curtis (Springer Verlag New York), Janet Fisher (MIT Press), Charles Hamaker (Louisiana State University), James Mouw (University of Chicago), and Heather Steele (Blackwell's Periodicals Division). The Newsletter is available on the Internet and Blackwell's CONNECT. EBSCO and Readmore Academic customers may receive the Newsletter in paper format from these companies.
Back issues of the Newsletterare available electronically. To get a list of available issues send a message to LISTSERV@GIBBS.OIT.UNC.EDU saying INDEX PRICES. To retrieve a specific issue, the message should read: GET PRICES PRICES.xx (where "xx" is the number of the issue). To subscribe to the newsletter, send a message to LISTSERV@GIBBS.OIT.UNC.EDU saying SUBSCRIBE PRICES [YOUR NAME]. Be sure to send that message to the listserver and not to Prices. You must include your name. To unsubscribe (no name required in message), you must send the message from the e-mail address by which you are subscribed. If you have problems, please contact the editor.