139.2 SCIENTIST RESPONSE TO SANDY THATCHER IN 138, Ross Whetten
139.3 SCIENCE LIBRARIAN'S RESPONSE TO SANDY THATCHER IN 138, Tony Stankus
139.4 SERIALS LIBRARIAN RESPONDS TO JOHN MERRIMAN IN 138, Hannah King 139.1 1996 FAXON SUBSCRIPTION PRICE PROJECTION UPDATE: FALLING US DOLLAR MEANS STEEPER 1996 INCREASES
Ron Akie, Faxon Company, email@example.com.
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 year. % Paper and Postage: After several years of stability, paper prices have sky-rocketed due to very limited inventories. Postal costs have also risen. % 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.139.2 SCIENTIST'S RESPONSE TO SANDY THATCHER IN 138
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 rewarded.139.3 SCIENCE LIBRARIAN'S RESPONSE TO SANDY THATCHER IN 138
Tony Stankus, College of the Holy Cross, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Taiwan.") 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).139.4 SERIALS LIBRARIAN RESPONDS TO JOHN MERRIMAN IN 138
Hannah King, SUNY University at Syracuse Health Sciences Library, email@example.com.
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 consortia?" 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- ies. 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.
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