[Received May 28, 1998.]
The latest attack on Elsevier ("Deja Moo" 207.2) has an all too familiar ring to it. Admittedly, we get credit for assembling an outstanding editorial board for the new chemistry journal in question (Inorganic Chemistry Communication), positive comments on the articles in the first two issues and no complaint about the price. But then out trots the fear of what the price might be in 20 years.
Four other Elsevier chemistry journals are mentioned in the article, journals with prices one might consider high. What is not mentioned is that these journals are also very large, publishing weekly or every other week. The Tetrahedron cluster, for example, published about 5,500 papers in 1997. There is a lot of tightly refereed information coming on these subscriptions. Too often recently detractors have conveniently "decoupled" (to use a currently popular word) price from volume.
Take, for example, the presentations being made by ARL in connection with its SPARC initiative. There is a slide that shows the average number of Elsevier titles subscribed to in 1997 by ARL libraries (378, costing $628,000). ARL goes on to say that the Elsevier titles represent only 3.5% of the total average serials holdings in the ARL libraries but account for 21% of the serials expenditures.
Even setting aside the problem of what titles are counted as "serials" (for we all know that all serials are not the same and there are many non-comparable items under this term), this is very misleading.
Elsevier's journals are larger than most publishers'. Many of our journals exceed 1,000 articles per year. And price is directly related to size.
While it is impossible to be specific without a detailed library-by-library analysis, it is clear that the ARL libraries have a collection weighted by the larger, more expensive titles (as the average for our whole list is much lower than the $1,661 average represented in the ARL figures).
If one assumes that the ARL libraries are buying Elsevier journals roughly proportional to the article coverage by ISI, it is likely those 3.5% of the titles are providing 18-20% of the journal articles coming into these libraries (depending on the field). In other words, the discrepancy between price and the amount of material received may not be significant at all.
I have sometimes thought that we should divide all of the larger journals into quarterlies, thereby reducing the cost per title dramatically. Think about it -- 13 separate quarterly journals instead of one weekly. Of course, this would be much less efficient for scientists and library technical services, but it would help in the statistics battle.
As I told an audience during a recent presentation, I and others at Elsevier have turned the other cheek so many times recently that we feel like we're watching a tennis match. I recognize the desire of ARL and some of its member librarians to create alternatives and to support some of our not-for-profit competitors. I would simply ask for much more care in the statements being made, as that will foster co-operation.
208.2 REPLIES TO WILLIAM BUSA RE: E-MAIL SOLICITATION
Carol Schaafsma, University of Hawaii, email@example.com; Judie Malamud, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, firstname.lastname@example.org
From Carol Schaafsma:
[Received May 20, 1998.]
I believe that my instantaneous negative reaction to Mr. Busa's question about email solicitation is closely related to my negative reaction to telephone solicitation from publishers. I prefer to use email or telephone contact for those items which are informational only (i.e., no action required) or which can be resolved BY ME with a "yes", "no" or "let's talk about it tomorrow at 2 p.m." type answer. Additional research or consultation is not required. None of the above apply to a publisher's solicitation.
When I do need to take further action (consult with a colleague, check accounts for fund availability, verify the status of a current order) I either take notes or print out the information. This may be only an inconvenience when there is just one or two a day. But when there can be five or ten in the mailbox daily, it IS time-consuming and frustrating. For me, Email should be "handle and move on", not "print, check, forward, bounce, file, try-to-find-again."
From Judie Malamud:
[Received May 21, 1998.]
It may be that librarians are not against an email solicitation but their purchasing and/or accounts payable departments are the culprits. We cannot use an invoice faxed to us nor, I suspect an invoice coming electronically. The money people still want to see a printed invoice received by snail mail.
208.3 STATEMENT ON SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES
Adrian Alexander, Big 12 Plus Libraries Consortium, email@example.com
[Received May 20, 1998.]
The May 20th web edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education includes an article about a recently released statement on scholarly communication issues by the chief academic officers of the Big 12 Conference. The statement was released to the press through the Big 12 Plus Libraries Consortium, and copies of the press release and the statement are available at the consortium's website (http://www.library.okstate.edu/big12).
Authored by David Shulenburger, Provost of the University of Kansas, the statement calls for the Big 12, "in collaboration with other higher education associations, scholarly societies, and not-for-profit publishers" to "devise a collection action agenda to address the effective management of intellectual property in order to protect and promote scholarly communication." It also endorses the SPARC project being developed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and supports the role of library consortia in managing resource sharing projects.
208.4 ELSEVIER SCIENCE ANNOUNCES CHANGE IN INTERLIBRARY LOAN POLICY FOR ELECTRONIC FILES. Press release
John Tagler, Elsevier Science, firstname.lastname@example.org
[Received June 17, 1998.]
AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS and NEW YORK, NY, USA
Elsevier Science has announced a more flexible interlibrary loan (ILL) policy, allowing articles from licensed electronic holdings to be printed and the print copy delivered via mail or fax to fulfill ILL requests. This is a significant departure from the current policy followed by most publishers, which permits copies to be made only from the print version of a publication. Electronic transmission of files from the electronic original is not included in the new policy.
The change responds to librarians' requests for a user-friendly policy, as research libraries are in transition from print to electronic collections. This new arrangement will allow speedier and more dependable access (i.e., retrieving and printing articles directly from electronic files rather than obtaining print issues from library stacks and photocopying). It also provides a means for fulfilling ILL requests for titles that are not held in print format.
Libraries licensing Elsevier Science journals through its two electronic subscription services -- Elsevier Electronic Subscriptions and ScienceDirect -- will be allowed under this new policy to use these electronic files as a source for ILL. The license terms provide certain limits regarding ILL transactions and provide for the collection of sufficient data for all parties to evaluate the process. Copies must be requested by and sent to an academic or other non-commercial research library; orders received from a for-profit company or directly from an individual cannot be filled. Also, the request must come from the same country as the library delivering the copy, and no copies can be exported without a special agreement on fees. Elsevier Science will watch with interest whether usage levels and borrowing practices are consistent with what is anticipated in light of recent discussions with the library community.
Karen Hunter, Senior Vice President, Elsevier Science, indicates, "A paradigm shift is underway in how libraries collect and distribute scientific research information. We have had very productive negotiations with librarians in the past three years as a rapidly growing number of research libraries has subscribed to our electronic services. Our new ILL policy is in response to the needs expressed by librarians during discussions on electronic licenses. We feel it provides for greater convenience and flexibility, and preserves the greatly-valued tenet of interlibrary loan."
Elsevier Electronic Subscriptions, launched in 1995, offers a local storage option for libraries, with complete electronic editions of up to 1,100 Elsevier Science journals delivered to the subscribing institution and mounted, stored and delivered over the local network. ScienceDirect was launched in 1997 and provides libraries with Internet access to remotely stored journal full-text files for a broad spectrum of scientific, technical and medical disciplines. Both services offer electronic subscriptions in addition to or in lieu of traditional print subscriptions.
Elsevier Science is the world's leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical publications and has offices in Amsterdam, Lausanne, London, New York, Oxford, Rio de Janeiro, Shannon, Singapore and Tokyo.
Contact: Karen Hunter, Senior Vice President
Tel: 212 633-3787; Fax: 212 633-3764
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 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Readers of the Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues are encouraged to share the information in the newsletter by electronic or paper methods. We would appreciate credit if you quote from the newsletter.
The Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues (ISSN: 1046-3410) is published by the editor through Academic and Networking Technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as news is available. Editor: Marcia Tuttle, Internet: email@example.com; Paper mail: 215 Flemington Road, Chapel Hill NC 27514-5637; Telephone: 919 929-3513. Editorial Board: Deana Astle (Clemson University), Christian Boissonnas (Cornell University), Jerry Curtis (Springer Verlag New York), Isabel Czech (Institute for Scientific Information), Janet Fisher (MIT Press), Fred Friend (University College, London), Charles Hamaker (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Daniel Jones (University of Texas Health Science Center), Michael Markwith (Swets North America), James Mouw (University of Chicago), and Heather Steele (Blackwell's Periodicals Division). The Newsletter is available on the Internet, Blackwell's CONNECT, and Readmore's ROSS. EBSCO customers may receive the Newsletter in paper format.
To subscribe to the newsletter send a message to LISTPROC@UNC.EDU saying SUBSCRIBE PRICES [YOUR NAME]. Be sure to send that message to the listserver and not to Prices. You must include your name. To unsubscribe (no name required in message), you must send the message from the e-mail address by which you are subscribed. If you have problems, please contact the editor.
Back issues of the Newsletter are archived on 2 World Wide Web sites. At
UNC-Chapel Hill the url is: http://www.lib.unc.edu/prices/. At Grenoble the url is: http://www-mathdoc.ujf-grenoble.fr/NSPI/NSPI.html.