ISSN: 1046-3410 NEWSLETTER ON SERIALS PRICING ISSUES NO 250 -- June 16, 2000 Editor: Marcia Tuttle Guest Editor: James Mouw CONTENTS 250.1 FROM THE GUEST EDITOR, James Mouw 250.2 JOURNAL PRICES AND THE EURO, Fred Friend 250.3 PRICING OF PHYSCHEMCOMM (ROYAL SOCIETY OF CHEMISTRY,SPARC), Bernd-Christoph Kaemper250.1 FROM THE GUEST EDITOR
In the first article of this issue Fred Friend poses a very interesting question regarding the effect of the value of the euro on journal prices for 2001. I turn this discussion over to our readers for input.
250.2 JOURNAL PRICES AND THE EURO
Fred Friend Director Scholarly Communication, University College London, email@example.com
[Received May 23, 2000]
Does anybody know how the decline in the value of the euro will affect journal prices for 2001? In the UK we are told that the strength of the pound and the weakness of the euro is making our exports expensive, so in theory that should make our imports of journal subscriptions from euro countries like Germany and the Netherlands cheaper. The same principle should apply to prices in the US as a result of the strength of the dollar. When the old German mark and Dutch florin were high in value we were told that this would result in higher journal prices, so is the reverse true now? What will happen to the pricing of Elsevier, Kluwer, Springer journals in 2001?
250.3 PRICING OF PHYSCHEMCOMM (ROYAL SOCIETY OF CHEMISTRY, SPARC)
Bernd-Christoph Kaemper, Stuttgart University Library, firstname.lastname@example.org
[Received June 15, 2000]
While I find the pricing of SPARC titles in general favourable compared to their declared competitors (cf. further down), I was very astonished to see the price set for PhysChemComm which came out as a wanna-be alternative to Chemical Physics Letters (North- Holland). The latter one publishes about 1600 articles per year with about 10,000 pages. So this $US 9000 journal costs the subscriber about $US 5.60/article or about $US 0.90/page, for which the subscriber receives print and online. The SPARC alternative comes at $US 350, is Internet-only, and published 15[!] articles in 1999, and 8 articles in the first half of 2000. That means it costs $US 22/article or about $US 3.50/page (at about 6 pages per article, on average), unit prices that are "royal," indeed. Access to articles that were published in 1998 is free. During 1999, access to PhysChemComm was still free with all full institutional subscriptions to the RSC's letters journal Chemical Communications (ChemComm, $US 1340, about $US 0.53/page or $US 1.20/article, 1082 articles in 1999). This is no longer the case, and we decided not to continue our subscription (incidently, we got no complaint at all from faculty which came perhaps not unexpected considering the marginal output record of this new journal).
It seems very ironic that we can read on "PhysChemComm in the News" (at the RSC website) quotes like these ...
Libraries join to cut price of journals: This is the RSC hitting back and reducing costs for libraries. With commercial publishing much of the profit is for the benefits of shareholders. At the RSC and many other institutions, income from academic publication goes back into supporting the subject.
(Times Higher Education Supplement, October 1998.)
Cut price journals: The Royal Society of Chemistry and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) are collaborating on a series of new high-quality, peer- reviewed electronic journals, which are to be offered at a fraction of the price of competing commercially published journals.
PhysChemComm, which provides rapid communication of articles in physical chemistry, is the first product of the RSC-SPARC partnership.
(Chemistry in Britain, January 1999.)
... when in effect the current price reminds us more of Gordon & Breach pricing policies when calculated on a per unit basis (as we certainly should do, following the example of the late Henry H. Barschall who did so much to advance cost awareness within both the physics and the library community). However RSC may justify this pricing, at $US 22/article, this is definitely a document delivery product, not a subscription product.
Is it cited at all? Yes, but from the 19 articles published in 1998-1999, according to the Science Citation Index, 5 were cited altogether 12 times from late 1999 to mid 2000 (10 of these are self citations by authors of the cited papers). One cannot yet calculate an impact factor but it is most certainly less than the 2.257 (JCR 1998) of Chem. Phys. Letters.
Finally, I was relieved to see that other SPARC journals seem to be more favourably priced when compared to their competitors. E.g., Organic Letters (ACS, $US 2645 for Print+Internet, if libraries subscribe to plan B) costs about $US 0.60/page or $US 2.30/article which compares favourably to its competitor Tetrahedron Letters (Pergamon, $US 8859) that costs about $US 0.90/ page or $3.20/article (note however that Organic Letters at present publishes about 60% less in pages than Tetrahedron Letters); Evolutionary Ecology Research is $US 0.27/page or $US 4.40/article and therefore considerably cheaper than its predecessor Evolutionary Ecology (Kluwer) which cost $US 0.80/page or $US 11.40 /article; and for Geometry & Topology, the competitor of the high- prized Topology (Pergamon, $US 1223, about $US 0.94/page or $US 19 /article), the internet edition is free and the yearly print edition costs only $US 50 ($US 0.12/page or $US 3.60/article) (note however that here again the newcomer still has only a third of the size of the established title). On the other hand, the Internet Journal of Chemistry ($US 289 for academic institutions), which has no counterpart among commercial journals, is also quite expensive with about $US 11.60/article. It has some very advanced features which may justify to a certain extent its higher price; nevertheless, we don't have a subscription because there was no request from faculty to take out one.
If presented with the alternative to have to cancel some print subscription to stay in budget no one will recommend paying several hundred dollars for "letter journals" that publish just a handful papers per year, even if it seems in principle desirable to support those start-up SPARC journals. We would find it more reasonable if the RSC continued its former praxis to include PhysChemComm with institutional subscriptions to ChemComm which will have a much larger subscriber basis, therefore distributing the costs among many more libraries. Of course, if this title continues to attract so few authors and articles (1% of its competitor's number of articles), it may be that it doesn't pay anyway to sustain this journal.
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