160.2 AIP AND APS RESPOND TO GORDON & BREACH, Marc Brodsky and Harry Lustig
160.3 ACCREDITATION MAY BE THE ANSWER! Russ Dennison
Sandra Whisler, University of California Press, email@example.com; Marie Hansen, Johns Hopkins University Press, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were glad to see Chuck Hamaker's observations in NSPL 156 regarding the emerging electronic publishing models. We'd like to share with you now some of our reactions, as publishers who are struggling with the issues of pricing, marketing, and cost recovery in this new world. We will focus most on two university press projects -- SCAN (University of California Press: http://sunsite.Berkeley.EDU:8080/scan/) and Project Muse (Johns Hopkins University Press: http://muse.jhu.edu/) -- because we are most familiar with these and because we believe they offer a different model from that apparently informing some of Chuck's remarks.
1) The cost recovery plans for these two projects do fall into the category of "package deals" (SCAN by discipline and Muse initially by the entire database with plans to offer subject packages as well). At this stage, there didn't seem to be any other feasible way to handle it; neither the presses nor the libraries wanted the overhead costs of negotiating domain licenses for single publications costing $40-$60 each. In addition, even with some foundation support, we still need to begin generating electronic income as soon as possible, to help defray the substantial development costs of creating electronic products. In the university press world, with our break-even pricing structure for print publications, there isn't any pool of money available to support r&d. If libraries are unwilling to support the development of electronic publishing by purchasing databases in the early years, the migration of humanities and social science journals--and the development of alternative models--will be much delayed.
2) In regard to "ownership," the licensing agreements for both SCAN and Muse offer a pretty full range of activities to anyone from a licensed domain -- downloading, saving, printing, etc. In addition both presses recognize that the licensing libraries have an ongoing right to the information and, therefore, offer the right to download the database onto a local fileserver if a library cancels its subscription. So we are selling substantially more than metered access.
3) We agree that a market for specific articles/chapters, etc. sold to individuals on a non-subscription basis will develop. There are technological solutions being tested today that would provide adequate controls for the financial transactions. And we are working on a divide between the "public" and the "restricted" sides of the publishing site which will allow people to obtain enough information (weighted search hits, abstracts of articles and chapters, etc.) to make purchases. But everything about this market is so unpredictable that it can't be counted on to provide any financing for electronic publishing developments in the early years.
4) We must question Hamaker's assumption that the costs associated with electronic publishing are orders of magnitude lower than those for print publishing, though we do expect there to be some savings. While printing and distribution costs do disappear, we still must recover the up-front costs of editorial expenses, copyediting, keying in corrections, overhead, and the like. To place content online substantial new electronic costs appear -- for coding of files, designing good front ends, refreshing information as new technologies develop, providing reliable fileservice and longterm access, etc.
Anyone who doubts that this is so should look at the new ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS site developed by the University of Chicago Press and think about the immense labor involved in designing and coding such a rich site: http://www.aas.org/ApJ/. It is still much too early in the process to determine what scholars in different fields will find useful, and therefore too early to determine the level of staff investment (which is, after all, the primary cost in publishing) which will be necessary to deliver scholarship in those desired forms. And finally, I do not believe that we will see much reduction in marketing costs, both because creating and maintaining Web sites is not cheap and because informing interested scholars of the availability of quality new work will be more vital amidst the cacophony of the Net than it is in the clutter of the paper world.
We believe that we speak for many of our colleagues in university press publishing when we say that we look forward to working closely with many in the library community as we strive to develop new ways of disseminating scholarship -- new ways which improve and increase access for scholars.
160.2 AIP AND APS RESPOND TO GORDON & BREACH
Marc Brodsky, American Institute of Physics email@example.com; Harry Lustig, American Physical Society, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In issue 159.2, a spokesman for Gordon & Breach Science Publishers (G&B) has posted an inflammatory response to a statement by the American Institute of Physics and The American Physical Society that appeared in issue 158.2. The latter was a verbatim reproduction of a statement by AIP and APS that was published in _Physics Today_ in January 1996 (at p. 58).
We stand by our statement concerning the lawsuits filed by G&B, with one minor amendment to reflect events after the release of our statement (a Swiss court has held there is a need for further proceedings).
From the outset of the U.S. litigation, G&B has asserted that a survey concerning the costs of journals prepared by Professor Henry Barschall and published in _Physics Today_ and the _Bulletin of the American Physical Society_ (PT, July 1988, 56; BAPS July 1988, p.1437) constituted false or misleading advertising. Just as we stated, the court has rejected this claim on two occasions, holding "that Barschall's articles constitute protected speech . . . ." The court also said that "(t)he conclusion we reach is supported by the consideration of the chilling effect on speech in the academic and non-profit context that could be the result of allowing actions such as this to proceed." G&B's response simply ignores the fact that its principal claim was rejected.
G&B recounts its interpretation of the events surrounding the preparation and publication of the survey. Suffice it to say, none of G&B's assertions bears on the underlying validity of Barschall's survey, which applied a methodology used in a variety of different studies by librarians and others. In any event, G&B's claims of invidious purpose and of collusion between Professor Barschall and the AIP and APS in the preparation of the survey were not the findings of the court. In fact, the court specifically held that "we do not construe the alleged advertising message in Barschall's articles to be the articles' central message or intent."
The U.S. is the fourth country in which we have had to defend our right to publish Barschall's survey. Another scientific society (the American Mathematical Society) has similarly had to defend itself from G&B's legal onslaughts as a result of its publication of a similar survey. It continues to be our view that such litigation is extraordinarily wasteful and is flatly contrary to the norms of scholarly behavior. We have always been prepared to publish G&B's criticisms of the Barschall survey without cost to G&B so that its claims could be openly aired before the affected community, but G&B instead has sought to silence communication in this area through litigation around the globe.
G&B contends that our publication of surveys that reveal the comparative cost of journals to librarians -- a comparison in which the G&B journals fared poorly -- constitutes unfair competition. We believe that the entire scholarly community has a right to be informed of such matters. Librarians evidently agree, as they have given awards to Professor Barschall for his work. We shall continue to resist G&B's efforts to suppress this information.
160.3 ACCREDITATION MAY BE THE ANSWER!
Russ Dennison, Winona State University, email@example.com.
There are large communications problems facing the scholarly community. The present communications system has worked for several centuries. However due to the increase in the number of scholars, the system is overloaded.
Cyberspace may offer a solution after resolving two problems. The first problem is validation. Scholars must accept cyberspace documents as legitimately published materials. The second problem is rapid identification and retrieval of scholarly documents in cyberspace. The increasing glut of vanity publishing in webspace is a growing barrier to scholarly communication.
Accreditation may be the answer to all these problems.
Universities (and perhaps foundations, associations and societies) could form an accrediting body for cyberspace documents. These documents could be in FTP, Gopher, HTML, Java, VRML or any other format. Each member of the accrediting body would decide which of their own cyberspace documents should be certified. Certified documents would be expected to be scholarly, roughly on par with the information published by university presses. Each certified document would be identified by the accrediting body's trademark. This trademark would allow searches to be restricted to only certified cyberdocuments, thereby eliminating vanity items. It would also permit legal prosecution of "impostors." Each member would set up its own procedure for certification, perhaps using an existing university press or creating a new faculty review committee. There would be a periodic accreditation review of the member by a "visitation" team to determine that the certified cyberdocuments are of high quality.
The costs of certifying and maintaining the cyberdocuments would be borne by the accrediting institution. This would be an added expense at first, but as accredited cyberdocuments replaced print journals, the total expense would decline. Provisions for mirror sites would have to be included in the accreditation agreement.
Accreditation would validate cyberdocuments at the level scholars expect (peer review). It would also readily identify and provide those documents. The speed of communications would increase. The information would be available to the entire scholarly community. Universities would become not merely creators and consumers of information, but providers of information as well.
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