194.1 AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY ONLINE JOURNALS
Peter Graham, Rutgers University Libraries, firstname.lastname@example.org; Mike Day, UMIST, email@example.com
From Peter Graham [received September 23, 1997]:
Anthony Durniak writes a persuasive and clear piece on ACS pricing in SPN 193.1. He says, i.a., "The journals must not only sustain themselves financially but also yield enough surplus to fund the development of new journals and new technologies."
This sentence gets at the heart of what many wonder about ACS pricing. Are we as subscribers being asked to subsidize other publications and other "technologies," that is to say, other ACS activities, by paying for the journals our libraries buy? Could he please describe what percent of the subscription income goes to fund activities other than the journal paid for, and could he be more explicit about both the other journals and the other technologies? And who they are for, i.e. what audiences?
There is a view that one of the jobs of the scholarly societies is indeed to aid
in the dissemination of research and findings. This distinguishes them from the
commercial publishers, who are willing to do this but have a different
fundamental aim. But it has been suggested that some scholarly societies have
strayed from their goal by depending on journal income to fund other society
activities, all no doubt worthy but not what the
subscriber wishes to fund by this means. It would be helpful if Anthony Durniak
could comment on this from the ACS point of view as well.
From Mike Day [received September 26, 1997]:
I have read the piece in Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues no.193 about the 'Rationale for American Chemical Society Web Journal Prices.' The following points spring immediately to mind -- they are not intended to be exhaustive -- concerning the comparative values and costs of the printed and electronic versions.
The article states that there will be access to multiple years of information -- each of the "journal subscriptions in 1998 includes access to all the material published since January 1996, and this archive will grow." What will be the position about access to the archival file to the years subscribed to if a library ceases its subscription? What is the guarantee of access to the 1998 file in 2048? A significant difference is that with the printed version the Library owns an archive to retain or dispose of at its discretion in perpetuity.
Libraries may allow whomever they choose to use their printed versions and may use them to supply interlibrary loans. How does this compare with the Web version?
These points are covered by the general one of what are the terms of the licence that subscribers to the electronic version are likely to be asked to sign.
Finally, in the UK, printed journals are free of Value Added Tax, whereas electronic information is subject to VAT at 17.5%. Although this is not the publisher's problem, it does mean information in electronic formats currently costs UK libraries 17.5% more than the same information in printed form.
194.2 AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY RESPONDS TO CUSTOMERS'
QUESTIONS ABOUT ONLINE JOURNALS
Anthony Durniak, American Chemical Society, firstname.lastname@example.org
[Received October 31, 1997.]
We've received three types of questions about the pricing policies for the ACS journals on the World Wide Web reported in the SPN #193.1. Marcia Tuttle asked that I respond to them, so here goes. Let me take them in reverse order of difficulty:
1) Will there be a package plan for Web Journals?
Yes -- the three package plans that we offer in print are now available for Web journals as well. The details were posted this week on our Web page: http://pubs.acs.org under the section "About Web editions." In short the plans offer a 10% discount from the list price of each package of subscriptions for Web journals or combinations of Web plus print editions. The "ACS All Pubs Package" plan includes all 31 publications we produce, while the "Biochemical Package" includes eight titles related to biochemistry and pharmaceutical sciences. The last of the three packages is called the "School Package," and it includes 16 core publications considered necessary for an academic institution that offers an ACS accredited undergraduate chemistry program. Although it is called the "School Package" it can also be ordered by corporations or other institutions that can use this excellent core collection of chemistry journals.
2) What about archives?
There are really two parts to this question. First, will the ACS physically keep an archive? The answer to that is Yes. The ACS is committed to maintaining an archive of its electronic journals just as it has done for years in print. We intend to maintain master archives of all our electronic journals and if technologies change in the future, we'll convert the archive to the most widely used access and information retrieval and display technologies.
Second, under what terms and conditions can a library have access to this archive? The answer to this question is more complicated and still under study. Our initial offer is that rather than restrict an electronic subscription to only one-year's volume of a journal, the way we do in print, we include with the electronic subscription the current year plus several years of archives. But once a subscription ends, we plan to end access to the journal and the archive. Some library customers plan to take the combined print and electronic subscriptions in order to preserve their archive in their possession.
Others have asked us to find ways to let them keep perpetual access to the volume year for which they subscribe, even after they cancel a subscription. There are several administrative and technological issues associated with this. Primary among these are the costs of maintaining customer records and updated technological systems to provide access. Our challenge is finding a way to cover the costs of providing access in future years to customers who pay us for one year of subscription. Normally the library pays the costs of brick and mortar to house the print archive and staff and materials for maintenance and conservation of older printed volumes. In an electronic world there are new costs for holding the electronic archive at the publisher site. We plan to evaluate our options to this with our library customers.
3) Are we as subscribers being asked to subsidize other publications and other "technologies," that is to say, other ACS activities, by paying for the journals our libraries buy?
Many professional societies use a portion of the surplus from their publications programs to finance educational and other not-for-profit activities of the society. The ACS is no different.
But the biggest component of our pricing strategy is to ensure that our prices are set in a way that allows us to invest in the future growth of the program, both by expanding the number of scientific articles we publish and by developing new technologies to deliver these technologies in faster and more convenient fashion. Without this economic capacity, science publishing could dissolve into the state of scholarly publishing in the humanities where articles wait years for publication.
To be sure, the economic incentive at a scholarly society is not an end unto itself, the way it is for a commercial publisher. Rather, the economic incentive is a means to an end. In the case of the ACS that end is the support in the broadest and most liberal manner the advancement and practice of the chemical sciences. It's a goal that the ACS has proudly served for almost 125 years. And it is a goal that we are committed to continue to serve even through the major shifts caused by this new technology.
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