NO 139 -- April 25, 1995

Editor: Marcia Tuttle

ISSN: 1046-3410






Ron Akie, Faxon Company,

April 24, 1995, Westwood, MA -- Since we released our initial price projec-

tion for 1996 subscriptions in January, the US dollar has fallen dramatic-

ally. In the interest of providing librarians objective information, wheth-

er the news is good or bad, to help in planning and budgeting, we have 

revised our projection for 1996. We now expect that a typical collection 

will see an overall increase of 14.8 percent, versus our original projec-

tion of 13.5 percent. The US dollar is 9 percent weaker against the key 

European currencies than we thought it would be at this time and shows few 

real signs of significant recovery. We think it is prudent, therefore, to 

add an additional contingency of at least 5 percent to the Currency Ex-

change component of the price increase for European titles.

                   January 1995 Projection         April 1995 Revision

                   North American  European      North American  European

   Page Inflation    2.5%          3.0%            2.5%            3.0%

   Paper/Postage     3.0%          3.0%            3.0%            3.0%

   General Inflation 2.5%          2.0%            2.5%            2.0%

   Cancellations     2.5%          3.0%            2.5%            3.0%

   Currency Changes  N/A           7.5%            N/A            12.5%

   Total Increase   10.5%         18.5%           10.5%           23.5%

   Typical Overall Increase:   13.1%                       14.8%

               (based on 67% U.S., 33% European collection)

The increases detailed in each category above represent the net effect that 

each component is expected to have on the final subscription price. For 

example, European title page increases in total are expected to be closer 

to 6%, but the net effect on the price will be 3%.

Key Assumptions.

  %  Page Inflation: Even with tighter editorial standards, increased manu-

     script submissions will result in more published pages again next 


  %  Paper and Postage: After several years of stability, paper prices have 

     sky-rocketed due to very limited inventories. Postal costs have also 


  %  General Inflation: Inflation in both Europe and the U.S. has been 

     accelerating and is expected to continue to rise at moderate levels.

  %  Cancellations: Publishers continue to see increased subscription can-

     cellations and must therefore allocate increasing fixed costs over a 

     shrinking unit base.

  %  Currency: As explained above, the continued decline in the value of 

     the US dollar will mean substantial price increases on European sub-

     scriptions. This factor is a direct result of global economies and 

     currency markets and is fundamentally beyond the control of publishers 

     or agents.


Ross Whetten, North Carolina State University Dept of Forestry, ROSSWHET@UNITY.NCSU.EDU

Sandy Thatcher asks "How many scientists, I often wonder, are really aware 

that their pursuit of ever more outlets for their publications, at increas-

ing expense, are wrecking the system of scholarly communication for their 

colleagues in the liberal arts?" As a scientist, I have a somewhat differ-

ent perspective on this issue. I venture to suggest that scientists seek to 

publish because it is essential to their professional survival. Given a 

choice between producing numerous "least publishable units" and being pro-

moted, or producing a few comprehensive, significant and meaningful papers 

and being denied tenure, which course should one choose? (This is not a 

rhetorical question; as a junior faculty member facing a tenure decision in 

a few years, I have recently been offered this choice.) I suspect a will-

ingness to make that self-sacrifice is uncommon. Publish or perish is a 

reality for both scientists and scholars in the liberal arts; the differen-

ces are in the types of publications expected, the costs of producing those 

publications and the degree to which publication costs are inflated by 

demands for "positive revenue flow" or profit for the owner of the publica-

tion outlet. The intrusion of commercial publishers into STM publishing has 

exacerbated a situation that previously existed with the journals produced 

and owned by scientific societies, and that is the expectation of a profit 

(by whatever name) from publishing scholarly work. Many scientific socie-

ties demand a positive revenue flow from their publishing operations, and 

use the revenue to support other activities of the society. This is argua-

bly a more worthy cause than paying dividends to stockholders of a commer-

cial publisher but is not necessarily the most appropriate use of the li-

brary acquisitions budget. Clearly any publishing operation must recover 

the cost of production by some means, and some net operating surplus is 

necessary for growth and capital improvements, but the level of operating 

surplus expected by many societies is much higher than would be justified 

under those conditions, and the profit margins of commercial publishers are 

frequently higher still.

What to do? First, work for change in the tenure and promotion policy at 

your institution. A few universities are now asking for only the five (or 

ten) most significant publications in the tenure/promotion portfolio, rath-

er than considering the number of publications as a criterion. This single 

change could have a profound impact on how scientists view their research 

programs and their publications. Second, seek out opportunities for collab-

oration between university presses, library acquisitions managers and well-

known scholars on your campus to produce and distribute electronic STM 

journals. The university community includes representatives of producers, 

distributors, and consumers of scholarly information. There is no impedi-

ment to the production of high quality, peer-reviewed, widely available 

electronic STM journals; if universities take the lead in producing and 

distributing such journals, the economics of STM publishing and serials 

acquisition could change dramatically.  

Both of these courses of action will require a substantial effort to "edu-

cate scientists about the consequences of their behavior," but maintaining 

a collegial tone to the discussion will be more helpful than expressing 

resentment over past inequities. Not all scientists are blind to the conse-

quences of their behavior, but alternatives to the current behavior are not 



Tony Stankus, College of the Holy Cross,

Sandy Thatcher (Penn State University Press) has recently participated in a 

discussion of swaying the publishing habits and library subscription de-

mands of scientists (NSPI 138.2). He asks two important questions relating 

to citations and circulation. First, prompted by the comments of Hannah 

KIng (NSPI 137.6), he asks if there is a direct correlation to be made 

between size of circulation and frequency of citation, among science jour-

nals. My guess is that there is, given carefully chosen comparison sets. In 

other words, the most widely circulated journal for original research in 

biochemistry is very likely to be the most cited. Further, the most widely 

ciruclated serial for reviews in biochemistry (an important distinction 

here: original research vs. reviews) is also the most likely to be most 

heavily cited. In many situations, moreover, the journal or serial that has 

the greatest number of gross citations also has the highest number of cita-

tions on average (the "impact factor") but this is not generally the case 

with review journals, which usually publish substantially fewer (if gener-

ally longer) papers. Most of the good studies I see emphasize "impact fac-

tors" more than gross citations, and most advertising campaigns for jour-

nals nowadays also highlight impact factors. My basis for this estimate of 

the generally valid relationship between circulation and citation comes 

from two of my books (shameless plug warning): _Making Sense of Journals in 

the Physical Sciences_ ISBN: 1-56024-180-2, and _Making Sense of Journals 

in the Life Sciences_ ISBN: 1-56024-181-0. Both are published by Haworth 

Press, and came out in 1992. In each of these books I graphically analyze 6 

factors about dozens of sets of journals matched by scientific specialty 

and type of article emphasized (generally journals of original research as 

opposed to reviews).  A cursory look this morning shows that in at least 

90% of these comparisons the most circulated journal as evidenced by OCLC 

library holdings is also the most cited as measured by average-citations-

per-paper ("impact factor"). Of course, this may not be the only strong 

correlation. Highest impact factors correlate very well with percentage of 

papers by American authors, with combined American/Western European/Japan-

ese percentage, and there is an inverse correlation between percentage of 

Third World authors and high impact factors. There is even a seemingly 

ironic correlation between the medium priced American competitors in a 

matched set of science specialty papers and impact factor leadership: the 

most expensive Eurojournals are only occasionally more cited in terms of 

impact factors. The key issue in journal holdings in a geoscientific sense 

is that the "expensive" middle ground of Eurojournals cannot be confidently 

excluded from holdings because a significant enough proportion of European 

(and more advanced Asian) citation classics appear within them again and 

again. (See three chapters in another of my books: _Scientific Journals: 

Improving Library Collections Through Analysis of Publishing Trends_. Ha-

worth Press, 1990. ISBN: 0-86656-905-7. The chapters are: "The Rise of 

Eurojournals," "Is the Best Japanese Science in Western Journals?" and 

"Asia's Other Sci-Tech Dragons: the International Publishing Patterns of 

Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China, Singapore, South Korea, and 


Second, Thatcher asks if any article has been published about the use of 

_Science Citation Index_ in tenure and promotion decisions. Actually, there 

have been several. I'm kind of partial (for obvious reasons) to "Publica-

tion Quality Indicators for Tenure or Promotion Decisions: What Can the 

Librarian Ethically Report?" _College and Research Libraries_ v.44. no.2, 

pgs.173-178, 1985. But certainly Eugene Garfield, the founder of _Science 

Citation Index_, and others have done a good job as well in other papers.

Portions of this reply to Thatcher would be relevant to the comments of 

Peter Graham (NSPI 138.3) but I will spare your readers a rehash of seem-

ingly self-serving self-citations!

An interesting final note: Thatcher asks if "an article appeared in a less 

prestigious journal but was very frequently cited, does the frequency tend 

to outweigh the degree of the journal's prestige in such decisions?" Curi-

ously, this has happened in a number of tenure decisions, but it has almost 

always been entangled with issues of nationality/race, gender, and the 

question of a sufficient number of papers overall for tenure. My sense is 

that in these complicated decisions, a demonstrably above-average rate of 

citations for a paper in a lesser journal, or a higher-than-expected rate 

for fewer papers can be taken into consideration, and has proven decisive 

in discrimination suits. In the gender wars, it has been shown that women 

scientists very frequently publish fewer papers, but that the rate of cita-

tions to those papers is somewhat higher per-paper than for specialty-

matching male scientists. (This still leaves most male scientists more 

cited because their greater gross number of marginally less-cited papers 

still garner more citations overall.) But speaking as a very frequent "out-

side expert tenure examiner," (and for ethical rerasons, always unpaid), I 

would not wish to get too involved in further discussions (being "deposi-

tioned" is about as pleasant as having a root canal or an IRS audit).


Hannah King, SUNY University at Syracuse Health Sciences Library,

John Merriman (138.5) asked for feedback about possible increases in serv-

ice fees charged by subscription agents as a way to counteract decreases in 

publisher discounts. Certainly, most librarians using the services of sub-

scription agents share their agent's worries about the financial stability 

of the business over the next 5 years. Our agents are not merely business 

contacts but colleagues and sometimes friends. Librarians, however, are 

primarily responsible for meeting the needs of their clientele efficiently 

and effectively. Our responsibilities demand that we endeavor to secure the 

best services at the lowest cost possible. Every added fee increases the 

amount of our declining resources spent on our steadily shrinking serials 

collection. For many of us, the question may become "Can we afford the 

services of subscription agents or would it be more efficient and just as 

effective to do it ourselves either as individual libraries or through 


Subscription agents have placed themselves in competition to both of the 

groups that they need most: libraries and publishers. By developing docu-

ment delivery services direct to the consumer, they began to compete with 

libraries. These same delivery services create tension with publishers who 

are worried that document delivery will eventually kill many journals along 

with their publishers. It was Faxon which first promoted the idea of "just 

in time" services. Readmore invested in Uncover. Ebsco also has built up a 

document delivery service.  

These services, while not generating a lot of revenue from selling articles 

because the cost of each article must be kept low enough to achieve a high 

volume, may still possess an opportunity to recover the loss of publisher 

discounts. Information about consumer behavior is extremely important to 

publishers and those that advertise products in journals and magazines. Who 

is requesting what articles from what journals and how many times? Which 

groups of consumers appear willing to pay top dollar for articles from 

which journals? Since publishers may not be able to pay for usage data, 

subscription agents may need to sell direct to advertisers and to librar-


Subscription agents need to remember the old adage "you can't get blood 

from a stone." Libraries can no longer justify either the high costs of 

serial subscriptions or any higher fees charged by subscription agents to 

our purchasing departments and our administrators. To survive, agents must 

begin to think more creatively and find markets for the huge amount of data 

they have generated as a "side effect" of their routine business. Supermar-

kets use consumer data to gain not only increased income but discounts and 

special services from their name brand suppliers. However, they must keep 

consumer prices low enough to generate enough volume -- read data -- to 

keep their data valuable. Publishers may simply need to accept market real-

ities and accept advertising as a way to keep subscription prices low.

Mr. Merriman, I hope you will urge your association to explore new sources 

of income, discontinue services that are only "bells and whistles," and 

maintain low service charges for libraries. 


Statements of fact and opinion appearing in the _Newsletter on Serials 

Pricing Issues_ are made on the responsibility of the authors alone, and do 

not imply the endorsement of the editor, the editorial board, or the Uni-

versity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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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:; Paper mail: Serials Department, 

CB #3938 Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel 

Hill NC 27515-8890; Telephone: 919 962-1067; FAX: 919 962-4450. Editorial 

Board: Deana Astle (Clemson University), Christian Boissonnas (Cornell 

University), Jerry Curtis (Springer Verlag New York), Janet Fisher (MIT 

Press), Fred Friend (University College London), Charles Hamaker (Louisiana 

State University), Daniel Jones (University of Texas Health Science Cen-

ter), James Mouw (University of Chicago), and Heather Steele (Blackwell's 

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