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Re: Revision to Physical Review B data

Mark makes many good points, and I would like to comment on his

Thanks for the clarifications. I would like to point out two items which
I think need further clarification though:

1) Of the 19 papers for Yale in PRB in 2004, only 6 were authors solely
by Yale researchers. Using a rule of 1/5 if only one author of 5 was from
Yale, I find that only 11.2 authors would have had to pay from Yale. This
is almost a factor of 2 difference.
Realistically, I don't see universities dividing and sharing these costs
into tiny segments for auditing and overhead reasons.  There will need to
be a better way to allocate shared payments from multiple grants.  This is
an implementation issue, rather than a serious roadblock.  Either way, the
costs are still significantly and unrealistically higher than present

2) My number was $2000 per article. Your article in Info Today stated the
fee for the $850/author per paper. I am confused by your calculation
below in which you seem to have resorted to $850/article.  Which is
My article in ONLINE (not Info Today, which is the platform) stated both
the lowest cost determined by a real publisher of $850 and your estimated
cost of $2000 with the more expensive elements of copy-editing and other
unstated benefits.

Are you stating that there is a difference between per-article and
per-paper cost calculations?  They should be the same thing, as the $850
per-article number assumed all costs of unaccepted manuscripts are
included in the final dollar amount.  I assume your $2000 figure also
included all costs.

So I think you still aren't representing the true numbers. It should be
noted that our analysis shows that some (might be most!) large US
research institutions (what APS would call Tier 4 now) actually paid APS
less money (in _unadjusted_ dollars_ even!) for their 2004 subscriptions
than their 1998 subscriptions despite the fact that we now include PROLA,
provide full electronic journals and linking, and publish almost 25% more
pages. This is primarily due to cancellation of multiple paper
subscriptions that most large institutions had. So while a changed model
might mean large research institutions pay more than they are currently
paying, it may not mean paying more than what they historically paid. One
might question whether this "stealth" transfer of support for journal
publishing away from large research institutions over the last decade was
actually fair. It would be useful if Yale went back and did a
retrospective study of what savings they have because of this kind of
It seems that all libraries can find cost savings due to your
technological efficiencies and new methods of manuscript delivery. This is
good news, and your organization is leading the way in reducing costs.
However, it is not valid to state that we should always be willing to pay
what we once did.  We always have new costs to allocate, and the pot of
funds is not growing at the rate of inflation, never mind the profit rate
of many publishers. It is our professional responsibility to look for less
expensive distribution models ... as long as we don't recklessly endanger
the necessary peer review aspect of good journal publishing.

The other point worth making is that while the APS journals make a good
benchmark because we budget fairly close to breakeven for our journal
operations, they are not the best example for figuring actual saving in a
global OA model. The OA model only will work when it is applied to your
most expensive (per article) journals, not your cheapest (assuming you
use something like the APS benchmark to limit how much you are willing to
pay in author fees - one would like to believe that commercial publishers
strive for the same level of efficiency and cost-effectiveness that we
have achieved at the APS). The fact that the OA model only works well if
it is applied globally and with payments really set close to actual costs
(and not to cover current publisher revenue/margins [and appropriately
adjusted to handle non-payment by some authors]) is what makes any
transition to an OA model such a difficult one.
I was using PRB for exactly the reason you state, to demonstrate that even
the best model will be extremely expensive, so imagine what would happen
for journals with (at least) four times the profit margin.  My assumption
was that if we migrate toward a break-even model such as yours, we would
still need a much larger revenue base than can currently be supplied by
the most significant authors and institutional producers.

Best regards,

Mark Doyle
Assistant Director,  Journal Information Systems
The American Physical Society

On Apr 16, 2005, at 12:35 PM, David Stern wrote:

In response to the email of Mark Doyle on Tue, 5 Apr 2005

Mark is correct, the numbers in my Online article for Physical Review B
were actually for another title.  The correct numbers for PRB are below.
The significant point remains the same, perhaps even more strikingly
demonstrated by this larger publication:

Direct author charges will be enormous and untenable for authors and
their high-publication institutions if total support migrates to
institutional fees.  Sharing costs equally among research libraries, or
using differential pricing across the largest group of libraries
(including corporate libraries), is still the most efficient way to
spread the real costs of the expensive peer review process.

Maintaining an adequate short-term revenue stream through some sort of
temporary consortial payment plan may provide us with the time we need
to move toward a reasonable direct payment model, removing the redundant
and inefficient method of funneling funds indirectly through
universities and corporations and then to publishers.

Of course we should also seek to reduce the peer review publication
costs in every possible way ... see my radical "post-publication peer
review model" for one example of reducing costs by reducing the number
of expensive rejections. This model still allows for complete searching
and archiving of submitted material that has not been nominated for the
more expensive peer review process.  If this distribution and peer
review process were managed by non-profit editorial boards with society
imprimatur, we could reduce the endless proliferation and
commercialization of the publish-or-perish cycle.

The numbers below show two sets of costs, one for the most efficient and
documented pubilication fee announced by a library-based ejournal ($850)
and the other for the PRB estimate of costs as described by Mark Doyle

Physical Review B: 5109 articles in 2004

     cost of publication = 5109 x $850/article   =    $4,342,650
                             5109 x $2000/article =  $10,218,000

       The current Yale expenditure is $8,740.
       Yale author charges for 2004 = 19 articles @ $850  = $16,150
                                                 @ $2000  = $38,000

Shared (equal) fees among multiple libraries
  at $850 per article

* if 20 libraries subscribe, annual cost for each is $217,133 per year
* if 60 libraries subscribe, annual cost for each is $72,378 per year
* if 120 libraries subscribe, annual cost for each is $36,189 per year
* if 200 libraries subscribe, annual cost for each is $21,713 per year

  at $2000 per article
* if 20 libraries subscribe, annual cost for each is $510,900 per year
* if 60 libraries subscribe, annual cost for each is $170,300 per year
* if 120 libraries subscribe, annual cost for each is $85,150 per year
* if 200 libraries subscribe, annual cost for each is $51,090 per year

Differential pricing model:

if 200 libraries share 3/4 of cost and 200 libraries cover 1/4 cost

                        Higher cost       Lower cost

at $850/article         $32,570                  $10,856
at $2000/article        $38,318                  $12,773

The OA author charge numbers are frightening high for large producers,
and are not predictable from year to year, as they are based upon
unknown author output.  The shared costs are very high, due to the
smaller number of remaining subscriptions, but at least they can be
budgeted.  Neither seems to be a better short-term solution for any but
the smallest (and corporate) libraries as we search for a more stable
and less commercial model for distribution of not-for-profit scholarly

David Stern
Director of Science Libraries and Information Services
New Haven, CT  06520-8111