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Re: APS pricing explained for 2003

Anthony Watkinson is absolutely right.  I have a couple of additional
points to make.

A successful journal is one that attracts an increasing flow of good
papers. This inevitably leads to an increase in the number of papers
published, an increase in pages and, eventually, an increase in frequency.  
The consequence is an increase in price to reflect the greater volume of
information.  Successful journals should be welcomed!

Unsuccessful journals attract fewer papers of real quality - often
rejected by more successful or prestigious journals.  Symptoms include
consistently late publication, double issues that have no more pages than
a single issue, etc.  Rather than turning their fire on successful titles,
librarians ought to be gunning for unsuccessful titles.

John Cox
John Cox Associates
Rookwood, Bradden
TOWCESTER, Northants NN12 8ED
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1327 860949
Fax: +44 (0) 1327 861184
E-mail: John.E.Cox@btinternet.com

----- Original Message -----
From: "Anthony Watkinson" <anthony.watkinson@btinternet.com>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: 4 August 2002 10:29 pm
Subject: Re: APS pricing explained for 2003

> I think Don may be misunderstanding what is going on.
> In the first place the APS as an organisation does not decide what
> articles are accepted or rejected. This decision is made by the editors
> the APS have appointed. They are presumably well regarded members of the
> community who accept or reject on the basis of their own perceptions of
> quality.
> The APS can refuse to allocate more pages but, if they do that, and the
> number of papers being accepted by the editors increases, the backlog of
> accepted papers waiting for publication begins to build up. I am obviously
> talking about the print environment but that is where (even in physics) we
> still are. If the backlog builds up the cutting edge papers tend to go
> elsewhere and the prestige of the journal begins to go down. In the second
> place it is also possible that the APS is getting a bigger share of the
> best papers in its journals than used to be the case.
> I should add that in my experience editors of journals are very resistant
> to turning away papers which they think of of top quality.
> I would also like to suggest that quality is not as easy to determine as
> commentators not involved in the publishing process would like to think.
> The top journals (judged by impact factor) accept papers which are of high
> quality in scholarly terms, i.e. describe what appears to be high quality
> work and important results resulting from it, but they have a second
> reason for accepting and rejecting. They want and get papers which are of
> general interest to their community and/or present results that are likely
> to have serious consequences to the subject. There are plenty of excellent
> papers published in less important journals which are of the highest
> quality but contain results which are of interest to a more specialist
> audiences. Some librarians describe such papers as "mediocre". They are
> not mediocre. They are specialised.
> That is not to admit that mediocre papers are not published. There are all
> sorts of reasons put forward by generally respected editors for accepting
> mediocre papers. A common argument is that young scholars need to get
> their first papers published. Another argument is that it is important to
> accept papers from countries where scholarship operates at a less
> sophisticated level. I am reporting these arguments and there are others.
> I am not accepting them. It is important to recognise that all such
> arguments are put forward and such decisions are made by the editors
> appointed by the publishers, where these are learned societies or
> commercial companies.
> I also note that Don does not quote the work of Tenopir and King, who show
> that the number of papers published year on year faithfully reflects the
> number of researchers being paid to do research. Unfortunately the funding
> for libraries has not reflected the increase in research being published.
> Anthony Watkinson
> 14, Park Street,
> Bladon
> Woodstock
> Oxfordshire
> England OX20 1RW
> phone +44 1993 811561 and fax +44 1993  810067