ISSN: 1046-3410 NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES NO 244 -February 15, 2000 Editor: Marcia Tuttle CONTENTS 244.1 FROM THE EDITOR, Marcia Tuttle 244.2 _JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR STRUCTURE_, Dana Roth, et al244.1 FROM THE EDITOR
I thought I was kidding when I said I'd miss library systems support more than anything else when I retired! Well, it's nearly true. You have noticed that no issues of the pricing newsletter have been put on the UNC Web site for many months. That's because I find technology advancing without me. A new version of Microsoft Word did me in. However, with the help of David Romani and Karen Hein, I now know how to produce those issues and I'll get right on it. But remember, you can always go to the Web site in Grenoble, France (listed at the end of each issue). It is always up to date - and it's searchable.
One more bit of housekeeping and a thank you to UNC's Will Owen for his kind help that enabled me to send issues 241 and following. There is a new way to subscribe to the newsletter. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org You should receive confirmation of your subscription. The new Lyris software and I are not yet comfortable with each other, so I encourage you to let me know if you are having trouble subscribing and unsubscribing.
Finally, I realize that the letter reproduced below contains much of the same content as a recent article by Dana Roth and Robert Michaelson. However, because the newsletter distributed these librarians' original letter to the editors of _Journal of Molecular Structure_ and the editors' responses, I believe it belongs here for the record.
244.2 _JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR STRUCTURE_: LIBRARIANS' RESPONSE TO
PROFESSORS LAANE AND BARNES Dana Roth, Caltech, email@example.com and other signers
[Received January 31, 2000]
We, the undersigned librarians, wish to offer further commentary about the pricing and content concerns that we raised earlier re: _Journal of Molecular Structure_, and hope this will also serve to answer the responses received from the journal's editors.
We are currently in the midst of a publishing revolution, that will surely result in enormous changes in the dissemination of scientific research results. In addition to the continuing serials funding crisis, which is largely the result of a dramatic escalation in subscription prices of commercially published S-T-M journals, the advent of user-friendly online databases (such as Web of Science, INSPEC and SciFinder Scholar) is also having a dramatic effect on library budgets. The essential nature of database access in academic libraries, which is increasingly coupled with a 'just in time' journal article access policy, will soon be placing many high priced specialty research journals at severe risk of cancellation. This cancellation risk is especially true for journals, such as _Journal of Molecular Structure_, which couple low impact factor rankings with exceptionally high subscription prices. While the comparison of Impact Factors between disciplines is obviously unfair, the _Journal of Molecular Structure_'s 1996 and 1998 Impact Factors of 0.867 and 0.807, which ranks it 58th & 68th among approximately 100 physical chemistry journals, is cause for serious and immediate concern.(1) Thus, all authors and editors should be very interested in the economic viability of their distribution tools, and certainly have a vested interest in providing feedback to both publishers and library selectors.
A significant factor in the subscription cost of the _Journal of Molecular Structure_ (and to varying degrees many other commercially published specialty research journals) is the increasing number of festschriften, bibliographies and conference proceedings/abstracts.
If festschriften are (as suggested by Professor Laane) simply reviews of an individual's "most recent work," they are hardly appropriate for inclusion in a journal reporting significant research results. Review papers are obviously very important contributions but should appear in publications with much wider distribution (e.g. _Accounts of Chemical Research_ or _Advances in Chemical Physics_), at much lower cost. Festschriften should be recognized as an anachronistic holdover from the 19th century,(2) and recipients could be more appropriately honored by the example of H.C. Brown's students and co-workers in their presentation of "Remembering HCB."(3)
Bibliographies of spectroscopic literature are, for any library that can afford J. Mol. Struct., totally redundant. If there is a 'third world' need for this material, it could easily be downloaded and distributed by e-mail at virtually no cost.
While some conference papers, such as plenary lectures and 'Winter School' contributions may be worthy of wide dissemination, the typical conference paper (or even the typical seldom-cited research paper appearing in the _Journal of Molecular Structure_), published at a cost of nearly $1/page, is clearly unfair to the journal's subscribers. Routine conference proceedings or abstracts, because of their very nature (preliminary, speculative, establishment of priority), clearly do not warrant publication in a research journal. This is especially true when 'journal' publication invariably results in year long delays in their appearance. A more appropriate model for publication of conference papers or extended abstracts, is shown by the American Chemical Society, which publishes conference preprints at little more than the cost of reproduction, postage and handling.(4)
In conclusion, we are sincerely trying to act as responsible customers. Timely and conveniently available reports of significant research results are the life blood of the scientific enterprise. However, if a given journal is only serving a small select group of researchers and wishes to continue publishing Festschriften, Bibliographies, Conference Proceedings/Abstracts and seldom cited research papers, it should seriously consider 1) an e-mail contents service and 2) direct deposit of the papers in an electronic archive, with provision for ready access through hyperlinks from standard indexing and abstracting services. For those needing a monthly print-on-paper product, an abstract bulletin could easily be provided at 1/100th the cost of the current subscription price of _Journal of Molecular Structure_.
1. Institute for Scientific Information. _EJournal Citation Reports_. 1996 and 1998.
2. Bohannan, Paul. "Fest Me No Schriften." _Science_ 166(3907), 819 (November 14, 1969).
3. "Remembering HCB: Memoirs of colleagues and students of Herbert C. Brown as prepared for the symposium in his honor in West Lafayette, Indiana on May 5 and 6, 1978."
4. _Polymer Preprints_ (American Chemical Society. Division of Polymer Chemistry). Papers presented at the meeting ... These bi- annual volumes currently offer about 2000 (8.5x11 inch) pages for an annual subscription cost of $100. The ACS Divisions of Petroleum Chemistry, Fuel Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry and Polymeric Materials, Science and Engineering also publish preprints of meeting papers or extended abstracts.
(signatories in alphabetical order; opinions expressed are our own, not necessarily those of our institutions)
Tina E. Chrzastowski Chemistry Librarian University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard Dess Rutgers University Library of Science and Medicine email@example.com
David Flaxbart Head, Chemistry Library University of Texas at Austin Welch Hall 2.132 Austin TX 78712 firstname.lastname@example.org
David Goodman Biology Librarian, and Co-Chair, Electronic Journals Task Force Princeton University Library email@example.com
Erja Kajosalo Chemistry Librarian MIT Science Library 14S-134 firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Michaelson Science and Engineering Library Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois 60208 email@example.com
Dana L. Roth Caltech 1-32 1200 E. California Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91125 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kendall Rouse Head, Chemistry Library University of Wisconsin-Madison 1101 University Ave. Madison WI 53706 Email: email@example.com
David Stern Director of Science Libraries and Information Services Kline Science Library Yale University 219 Prospect Street P.O. Box 208111 New Haven, CT 06520-8111 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary D. Wiggins Chemistry Library 800 E. Kirkwood Avenue Chemistry Bldg C003 Indiana University Bloomington, IN 47405-7102 E-mail: email@example.com
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