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RE: Invitiation to Tender for ALPSP Open Access journals data analysis project

I'd like to comment on the opening line of this invitation letter by Sally
Morris.  "Open Access...is a very appealing journals model, particularly
for society publishers" seems overly broad (and/or too assuming).  The
fact is that some small professional society publishers are worried about
the Open Access model and what it could mean for them in terms of revenue.  

For instance, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) - one
of the most highly respected scientific societies in biology and the life
sciences - recently ran an editorial written by its executive director,
which lays out the concerns of non-medical scientific society publishers.  
Special attention is paid to the fact that agencies that fund non-medical
scientific research (such as the NSF, USDA, and EPA) "typically include
very little, if any, money for publication costs, and certainly not enough
to support the author-pay system described above."  The writer also
asserts that "Libraries and those who oversee their funding need to
realize that, as they agitate for author-pay open access, their current
budgetary and subscription decisions may well threaten the ability of many
nonprofit scientific societies to continue producing high-quality,
low-price journals and to reconfigure those journals for the online
publication that libraries want."  The entire editorial may be viewed at

I would suggest that before we can assume (or claim) that society
publishers will find OA an attractive model, we need to look at all sides
of the issue - the unique challenges faced by society publishers (by
field), the response by funding agencies, and more.  Many scientists feel
loyal to the small scientific societies that they belong to, and are
worried about the effect that OA will have on them.  Will OA drive all but
the largest, most expensive commercial scientific publishers (like
Elsevier!) out of business?  These issues might be worth considering in
the study that Sally Morris suggests.

Similarly, I have also heard from an ecologist I know that the American
Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) is also concerned about the
OA model and its possible (detrimental or otherwise) effect(s) on society
publishers.  But I do not have enough information on ASLO's stance to do
more than suggest that they are concerned.

Amy Schuler
Manager of Information Services
Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Millbrook, NY 12545
(845) 677 7600 x164

 -----Original Message-----
Sent:	Friday, January 09, 2004 11:43 AM
To:	liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Invitiation to Tender for ALPSP Open Access journals data
    analysis project 

Open Access (free access for all readers to published primary research
articles) is a very appealing journals model, particularly for society
publishers who publish not only to produce surpluses with which the fund
the society's other activities, but also in furtherance of their society's
mission to promote their subject.  However, there is as yet very little
basis of fact on which individual publishers and societies can make
decisions about whether or not to abandon their existing subscription
model and move to an alternative cost recovery model which enables Open

A significant number of journal publishers are in fact experimenting with
Open Access models;  the majority are seeking payment of publication
charges, either for all articles, or on an optional basis.  In addition,
there are some publishers whose experience with the Open Access model is
leading them to move away from it to a more traditional subscription

What is needed is a rigorous analysis of the data which is being collected
by these various publishers, in order to establish not just the financial
parameters and ultimate viability of Open Access models, but also the
effect of Open Access on other factors such as author submissions,
acceptance/rejection rate, usage statistics and - ultimately - citations.  
ALPSP is therefore seeking to carry out a study which will collect and
analyse as much relevant data as possible from an international range of
publishers;  a list is already available of some 10 publishers who have
volunteered to participate.  It is envisaged that the data analysis will
be completed in the second half of 2004, unless there is a strong argument
for spending more time.

I would be happy to send a copy of the Invitation to Tender to anyone who
is interested in quoting for this project.  I would also be delighted to
hear from additional publishers who would be willing to share their data
with the selected researcher.


Sally Morris, Chief Executive
Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
E-mail:  chief-exec@alpsp.org