[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Nature Journals: Versioning Vicissitudes

Kimberly Douglas sends the following message to liblicense-l:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kimberly Douglas <kdouglas@library.caltech.edu>
To: "'liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu'" <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Cc: "'d.muscatello@natureny.com'" <d.muscatello@natureny.com>
Subject: Nature Journals: Versioning Vicissitudes
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000 17:40:22 -0700

I am encouraged that Nature has apparently grasped enough of the research
community's ire against publishers' restrictions on access to research
articles to provide a mechanism in which that genre can be separated from
the proprietary content so that it can be more available.  The specific
statement in the Nature licence (cited by George Porter earlier) that
allows teaching staff to make copies for coursepacks without further fees
or permissions is a bellwether step that ALL publishers should emulate.  
I view this as most definitely forward thinking.  Is it a perfect
agreement, no. Does it challenge our assumptions of journal issue
integrity, yes.  Do publishers need to work with other segments of the
industry regarding implementation of innovative approaches, also yes.  
Afterall, we, as individuals and as a society, are all struggling through
the transition from print to digital network and care needs to be
exercised as to what is abandoned and what is retained.  But change must

Versioning or information service differentiation is an inevitable
consequence of incorporating the network and associated computational
tools in every aspect of our lives. Journals like Nature and Science have
evolved into richly mixed information services containing advertising,
research articles, news, commentaries, job postings, book reviews etc.  
Nature, as Dana Roth pointed out, does not have society backing - so it
must rely solely on market relationships to thrive.  It is a challenging
case around which to wrap one's brain as to how it will move from the
printing press model of information dissemination to the network model
given the variety of services the journal provides.

Shapiro's and Varian's description of "versioning" was presented in their
book, Information Rules (1999), as a method by which an information
service could penetrate NEW previously untapped markets.  This would allow
for revenue increase (or replacement) without over-burdening the legacy
market. Since advertising revenue plays such a large role in the finances
of Nature, there could be more "versioning" opportunities along that
revenue stream if the advertising audit models are up-to-speed. Perhaps
Nature could charge for advertising space differentially depending in
which service, research articles, versus news and reviews, online or
print, the ad appears?  Such a revenue stream model might provide the
financial basis for re-designing the entire service.  Nature also needs to
think about what other markets there might be for parts of their journal
and think through the necessary rights to take action.  Would online book
vendors or the publishers be interested in licensing access to the book
reviews?  This is where "versioning" has real economic potential.

Kimberly Douglas
Director, Sherman Fairchild Library and Technical
Information Services
Caltech Library System
Pasadena, CA  91125