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Re: Open Access: a role for the Aggregators

It might be noted here that nearly 3,000 colleges in this country have long been "free riders" on the system of scholarly communication maintained by the some 85 university presses that the small handful of parent universities choose to support. A somewhat larger number actually provide funds to their faculty to help subsidize publication of their monographs by these presses, but the vast majority pay nothing into supporting this system beyond what they buy for their own libraries. Recommendations often made to spread the burden more equitably for sustaining this system--made, for instance, by the National Enquiry into Scholarly Communication back in 1979--have never been pursued. As others have noted on this list, one effect of OA may be to exacerbate this already skewed burden that the larger research universities will bear in supporting the whole system.

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State University Press

This is a very interesting suggestion, and one that dovetails with our thinking at BioOne. Our OA collection currently has 8 titles (with the addition in 2008 of 5 titles from Conservation International), and we are exploring ways to grow it on a sustainable basis. At present, we ask OA titles to either submit their content in NLM XML or pay for their conversion and online loading/QC expenses, which are not insignificant. Some OA titles can cover that via author fees, but for most titles in organismal, environmental, and integrative biology, author charges are not an option--and this is a significant limiting factor. And of course, the costs of building and maintaining a sophisticated hosting platform extend well beyond conversion and loading charges. So we do not yet have a sustainable model for OA.

Recently we've been exploring the possibility of asking libraries to contribute to the financial sustainability of our OA collection, whether as a small percentage of their licensing fee to the subscribed collection(s) (allowing libraries to contribute on a proportional basis), or on a per-journal charge of the sort you suggest. We have discussed an opt-in model, whereby subscribing libraries could agree to be invoiced for the additional amount by checking a box on the subscriber license.

The problem is, as ever, that of free ridership. Would the benefit to library subscribers you identify--"more content accessible through one familiar, well-developed tool with lots of support..." be a sufficient incentive to escape the conundrum of free ridership and establish a new economic settlement (as we at BioOne think of it) for scholarly publishing?

We would genuinely appreciate feedback from the members of this list.

Mark Kurtz | Director of Business Development | BioOne
21 Dupont Circle Suite 800 | Washington, DC 20036
Phone 202.296.2296 | Fax 202.872.0884 | Cell 617.669.4276

On Mar 19, 2008, at 9:05 PM, Heather Morrison wrote:

 Vendors of aggregated databases and similar services to libraries
 have potentially very important roles to play in the transition
 to open access.

 These roles range from increasing visibility of open access
 journals through providing abstracting and indexing, to
 supporting OA services such as the Directory of Open Access
 Journals, to contributing to the economics of open access and
 including the full text content of OA journals in the aggregated
> databases.
> This could be a win-win-win situation.  OA journals benefit from
> enhanced impact and support; vendors can provide expanded
> services at little or no additional cost; and libraries can enjoy
 more fulltext content in the well-developed searching services we
 currently enjoy.

 By my calculations, libraries could fund an immense amount of
 open access journals, at costs of an average of $1 - $10 per

 For details, please see my blogpost, Open Access:  Roles for the

> Any opinion expressed in this e-mail is that of the author alone,
 and does not represent the opinion or policy of BC Electronic
 Library Network or Simon Fraser University Library.

 Heather Morrison, MLIS