[Received September 23, 1997.]
Recently, a US court has decided in favour of AIP in the suit filed by Gordon & Breach about an article in Physics Today which compared the cost of scientific journals in terms of cents per word. A large number of scientists and scholars in the developing countries depend on secondary services for their survival, as their institutions cannot afford the huge costs of subscriptions to journals. [The best academic library in India - - the J R D Tata Memorial Library at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore -- receives about 2,000 serials. In the US many universities receive more than 50,000 serials.] It will help Third World scientists, scholars and their institutions if a detailed study could be made of the cost effectiveness of secondary services (such as Chemical Abstracts, BIOSIS, Compendex Plus, Science Citation Index, Physics Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, Social Science Citation Index, etc.). Of course, cost by itself would not mean much; the study should also look at the quality of the information provided, the speed with which each service covers the primary literature, ease of access, special features, and such other factors. I do not know if such a study is already available. If it is not, it should be carried out and the results publicised widely.
For example, one would like to know the total number of journals indexed cover-to-cover, the total number of papers/review articles/letters abstracted in a year, cost per abstract, time lag between the appearance of an article in a primary journal and the appearance of its abstract in the secondary service, and so on.
I wonder if any librarian or a scientometricist (who has access to most of the databases to be studied) would be interested in such a study.
I would like to hear from interested scholars.
196.2 MCB PRICE INCREASES
Carol Keck, Center for Creative Leadership, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Dana Roth, Caltech, email@example.com
From Carol Keck:
[Received Nov. 12, 1997.]
In response to Bernd-Christoph Kaemper's mail about MCB University Press, I would wholeheartedly agree that MCB cannot justify their journal price increases. We are a nonprofit, educational and research organization with interest in leadership development. MCB has continually been a problem because of unbelievably-priced journals and incredible price increases each year.
For example, the Journal of Management Development went up $1,230 this year, to $4,949, a 33% price increase over last year. We used to use EBSCO Subscription Services, and they reported a 223% increase in this title from 1990 to 1994. Since 1995, we've had about a 90% increase, if I figure correctly. Total: a 313% increase since 1990.
The Journal of Management Development in 1997 published two of its six issues with another issue, so there were essentially four issues. If they print four issues next year at $4,949, that is $1,237 per issue. All for a journal that most of our users find good, but not great, after reading. One user compared it in quality to Organizational Dynamics, which costs $56.70 per year.
Unfortunately, this journal is indexed by ABI/Inform, an index we often use, which creates requests for the articles. We have to subscribe to keep up with the requests. We couldn't use interlibrary loan for the number of articles that would be requested, and none of my usual document delivery companies provide it. We are at the mercy of MCB University Press.
I haven't even started using Emerald yet because of hidden cost fears, fears about restrictions on its use, and the complicated nature of what little I've done so far with it.
Please understand that these are my opinions and personal reactions, not those of my organization. The numbers speak for themselves.
From Dana Roth:
[Received Nov. 13, 1997.]
We had a similar experience with MCB (CWIS - Campus Wide Information Systems). This title was published by Meckler thru v.11(3),1994 and the subscriptions were $95/6 issues in 1993 and $98/4 issues in 1994. After MCB got rolling the 1995 cost quickly rose to $122 followed by even more dramatic increases to $184 in 1996 and $369 in 1997. Thanks to B-C. Kaemper for alerting us to this G&B wannabe!!!
196.3 FURTHER COMMENT ON ACS ELECTRONIC JOURNAL PRICING
Dana Roth, Caltech, firstname.lastname@example.org
In reading the press release announcing the availability of electronic versions of some of the ACS journals, I was a little surprised to learn that "No member dues go towards the ACS journals. The journals must not only sustain themselves financially but also yield enough surplus to fund the development of new journals and new technologies."(1)
If each journal is responsible for funding the development of its electronic version out of current subscription rates, are (or were) electronic services held up until sufficient subscription revenue was built up? If this is true, it certainly does not bode well for the future of the society's journals. I ask these questions because, as an ACS member, I would not object to the Society funding development costs for new technologies from member dues. Hopefully, the ACS will soon recognize that the Society as a whole needs to help fund some of the substantial capital costs of the coming transformation in information distribution.
The press release also seems based on an assumption that academic libraries have large bags of unspent cash and that there is a compelling reason for them to switch from print to electronic subscriptions. Given the infrastructure and maintenance costs for faculty electronic access, let alone for large numbers of students, most academic libraries will be very hesitant to give up the print product anytime soon. This view is reinforced by a recent article by Nature's production editor (2), who states that "In general, most researchers are still getting what they need from print, so have little incentive to acquire the necessary hardware, or the appropriate mindframe, to embrace Web-only journals."
I am also concerned that the ACS' marketing efforts may be undercutting access to the electronic product in academic libraries. There seems to be a bias in favor of individuals and large corporations with multiple 'library' subscriptions.
Using JACS as an example, an additional $60 per year for an individual's print + electronic access is literally only a pennies a week increase in the subscription cost, assuming they can afford the equipment. For large corporate libraries, there is obviously an incentive to take advantage of the savings afforded by cancellation of duplicates and offering site wide access. In the academic setting, however, where the likelihood of losing individual print subscribers is much less, there will be pressures on the library to keep the print subscription and pay the 20% to 90% surcharge for varying degrees of electronic access. For libraries with combination subscriptions to all the ACS journals, this surcharge will be on top of an annual subscription rate of $20,354 (for 1997).
Prices are given at: http://pubs.acs.org
1. Anthony Durniak [a_durniak@ACS.ORG] Rationale for ACS Web Journal Prices. Monday, September 15, 1997 CHMINF-L Listserve
2. Porteous, J., Plugging into electronic journals. Nature 389(September 11), 137-138(1997)
196.4 HISTORICAL NOTE ON PRICING ISSUES (ACS)
Albert Henderson, Editor, Publishing Research Quarterly, email@example.com
[Received Nov. 2, 1997.]
Anthony Durniak explains the publishers' need for capital very well in his response to criticism of the American Chemical Society prices. It really is an obligation.
In the 20 years following 1972, university research expenditures doubled (on a constant dollar basis), creating many new specialties. Library expenditures increased only 35%.
Most readers probably don't remember the ACS resolve not to start new journals during the 1970s. [Chemical & Engineering News Dec 10, 1973]. Finally around 1981 or 1982, ACS was forced to develop its first new journal in a dozen years.
During the hiatus, ACS and other associations were criticized by librarians for two-tier pricing. The Internal Revenue Service decided to revoke ACS's tax-exempt status, interpreting journal discounts to members as 'inurement' to individuals. After two years of angst, IRS reversed the ruling. (Chemical & Engineering News Nov 3, 1980) Two tier pricing is still with us and member discounts are larger than ever because the non-member prices have been forced up by falling circulation.
196.5 ALCTS FIRST STEP AWARD
Judy Johnson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, firstname.lastname@example.org
CALLING ALL NEW SERIAL LIBRARIANS AND OTHERS INTERESTED IN SERIALS WORK!
The FIRST STEP Award, sponsored by the Serials Section of the Association of Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) and underwritten by John Wiley & Co., is open for applications for the coming year. THE DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS IS DECEMBER 20, 1997.
The award is a professional development grant -- the purpose is to provide librarians new to the serials field an opportunity to broaden their perspective and to encourage professional development in ALA conferences and participation in the Serials Section of ALCTS.
REQUIREMENTS: Any ALA member with five or fewer years' experience in the serials field, who has NOT previously attended an ALA Annual Conference, is eligible. A $1,500 grant donated by Wiley is applicable toward round trip transportation, lodging, and registration fees.
APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Applicants should submit a current resume, a cover letter and two written references to:
Chair, First Step Award Committee
PO Box 1414
Schenectady, NY 12301
Voice (518) 442-3633
Fax: (518) 442-3630
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT MAGGIE HORN
NOTE! ALL REFERENCES AND PAPERWORK MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE DEADLINE IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED -- APPLICANTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR INFORMING THEIR REFERENCES OF THIS CONDITION. THANK YOU.
196.6 OPTICS EXPRESS
From David Stern, Yale University, email@example.com:
[Received September 19, 1997.]
I would encourage all librarians to take a look at a fascinating new approach to journal distribution, the new Optics Express. This electronic-only peer-review title, produced by the Optical Society of America in cooperation with the American Institute of Physics, attempts to provide short and very timely articles at no cost to readers or libraries. The author pays what amounts to a page charge. There is a completely electronic review process, which should reduce the traditional 6+ month time lag to a few weeks ... and will probably significantly reduce any production costs as well.
For more information please see URL
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