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Re: Open Choice is a Trojan Horse for Open Access Mandates

David: Why do I feel we are covering old ground and old inaccuracies below??

Sometime in 2004 there was discussion both on this list and in other venues, noting that the publishing output of large research universities is considerably higher than your numbers below, and thus -- if a per article fee of any size (over $900) is to be charged for STM, these universities will need to find considerably more funds than they are currently spending on subscriptions, where the cost is shared by many readers.

I don't intend here to disagree about what is the best cost/price model for publishing research, but rather to repeat some data from my December 2003 seminar presentation on this topic, based on approximate (conservative) publications numbers from Yale -- which is not by any means the largest STM article producer among ARLs:

Number of STM articles published (most indexed by ISI
with an estimate for the rest): 3,600
(this excludes humanities journals)
*I estimate the above number is about 10% on the low side and
that the real number was closer to 4,000)

STM journals budget that fiscal year $3.6M

On this basis, our per-article STM purchase
cost was: $900-1,000

Assuming those same STM 3,600 - 4,000 articles
@ your $2,500 $9M-10M

@ $1,250 (which is LESS than PLoS now charges
and also less than the top BMC journals) $5M

It's almost impossible to calculate the humanities numbers as the citation sources for them are much more scattered and meager, and the citations patterns are very different to STM. Social Sciences fall somewhere between the two and are not estimated above.

Ann Okerson/Yale Library

On Sun, 18 Mar 2007, David Goodman wrote:

The grant money supporting research in science and many fields of the
social sciences has for many years already produced n many campuses
exactly this effect Sandy fears--and in many matters in addition to
library funding.

But in this particular case the newly freed money will come from the
expensive subscriptions in the science fields, supplemented by the
publication fees paid by their grants. If a no longer needed
biochemistry journal cost $20,0000 a year, the biochemists will not
unnaturally expect some of the money to be spend in publishing their

But this shift if properly administered can have great potential
benefits in the humanities: the publication of humanities monographs is
already often supported by funding from the author's institution or
special grants for the purpose. Any reasonable university administrator
will see the virtues of using some of the newly available money from the
cancellation of science subscriptions to support publication fees in all
fields of study. As Sandy remarks, the humanities faculty will make it
clear that they expect such consideration.

(This is one of the reasons libraries may not be suitable to mange
publication funding: they typically do not have the power in campus
politics to stand up to the interests of individual academic groups. The
chief academic officer is in a much stronger position. )

The median ARL library spent $5.8 million in serials in 2005*. Assuming
that $0.8 million is the cost of the many small serials to which Open
Access paid on behalf of the author funding is not applicable.  The $5.0
million is enough to fund 1,000 journal articles at $2,500 each, and and
100 books at $25,000--quite apart from funds from granting agencies,
using the current costs. If journal articles can be produced at half the
cost (as for many non-profit publishers), and if publication subventions
needed by books publishers are half the full price of production, then
it will fund 2,000 articles and 200 books. The median faculty size for
an ARL institution is 1,353. This is at least 2 articles per science
faculty a year, and 1 book for humanities faculty every other year. Many
science faculty produce more, but they usually have grant funds
available in addition.

*(The actual amount is about $0.6 million higher, for some institutions
report electronic serials separately.)

The general principle of funding publication at the author side is
applicable to all fields. The opportunity that this gives for open
access is similarly pertinent to all fields. The need is also
similar--it is just as hard for those working in small colleges to
acquire expensive monographs as articles from expensive journals.  Just
as many first-rate journals have subscriptions in the low 100s, many
first-rate academic books sell a similar number of copies.

The best thing that could possibly happen to Penn State Press is the
adoption of universal open access.

David Goodman, Ph.D., M.L.S.

----- Original Message -----
From: Sandy Thatcher <sgt3@psu.edu>
Date: Friday, March 16, 2007 6:26 pm
Subject: Re: Open Choice is a Trojan Horse for Open Access Mandates
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu

If I interpret what David is saying correctly, this means that
scientists carry so much more political clout on most campuses
that what they deem to be a priority use of funds will
determine where they are re-directed, as opposed to the
humanist scholars who might actually benefit from having more
money spent on monograph purchases since, as the MLA report so
clearly demonstrated, the monograph still is very much the
"gold standard" for promotion and tenure in their fields. Isn't
it time for the humanists to rebel?

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State University Press

We are not just more likely but certain to be able to have the
money used for subsidizing article publishing in open access
journals, because the money will be used for this purpose
whether we will or no.

The faculty and administrators want money for the purpose, and
the savings by canceling journals is an exceedingly attractive
source. Furthermore, it is hard to argue otherwise, for
ultimately the money is being used for the same purpose, to
support scientific communication through journals. I cannot
imagine any administrator giving the library money to purchase
large commercial journals once the contents of these journals
will be available without payment, and I cannot imagine any
faculty that would not agree.

The only real question is the degree that the control of this
money will be in the hands of the library.

Unless libraries make serious plans for the use of this money by
supporting publication in distinctive ways, such as editing
faculty publications or subsidizing the local production of
journals, I do not think there could be a strong case for
retaining the money in the library budget. its the people
without specific attractive projects who lose out in budgeting.

Strategically, Stevan Harnard is right that the best way of
keeping control the money will be to cancel the journals as soon
as practical, before we are compelled to, and immediately use
the money for appropriate ends. If we take action only
defensively, it is not likely that we will be able to retain or
control the money. With luck, we might be able to retain some of
it for books, but not if we wait until the money is removed over
our opposition or hesitancy.

If the university expects to be able to pay for all publication
fees through a combination of internal and external funds, the
support should probably be administered in a routine way through
the research office, just as other research support is managed.

If the university expects to be able to supply only part of the
money necessary, it would be much better administered outside
the library, because the library does not have the practical
power to deal with the demands of competing groups--it will be
much more hazardous than administering the division of
acquisition funds, because it will affect individual faculty
members very directly.

There is no reason for libraries to expect funding for functions
they do not perform, and our best chance of retaining adequate
funding for our unique purposes of bibliographic and reference
assistance is to concentrate on this, and adapt our organization
to realities.

I consider myself an optimist in this, for I think it will be
possible for the profession to adapt.

David Goodman, Ph.D., M.L.S.