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Re: the Yale argument on open-choice

I agree with everything Eric says here as far as it goes. Let's go further: some enterprising publishers (really service providers, but call 'em what you will) will come up with increasingly automated services that drive costs down further--to $500, to $100, to $50. What happens to output then? Does it rise or fall? I think it will rise significantly. This now puts a new burden on filtering, on finding what you want. Readers will thus encounter more services that try to direct their attention. These services will exact a toll of some kind. Where is the gain?

For all the many problems of the traditional model of user-pays publishing, it does one thing very well: it marries the production of information to the ability to consume it. In plain English, this is called living within a budget.

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eric Hellman" <eric@openly.com>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2007 5:04 PM
Subject: the Yale argument on open-choice

This economic analysis makes a faulty assumption that article production is completely inelastic (in the supply-demand curve sense).

Lets first take the simplistic assumption that there would be only one price ($2500) to publish an article- how would the article producing community respond- why they would of course stop publishing least-publishable-unit articles, thus significantly reducing the cost to Yale.

In reality, there would emerge price competition among publishers- very prestigious journals would be able to charge much more than the less prestigious journals; Yale would end up spending more on the prestigious titles and probably less on the less prestigious titles.

The price competition would then engender technological competition in cost reduction. Different journals would chose different cost/quality trade-offs; the winning formula would be chosen by the market of authors seeking publication venues.

I'm not saying that the yale conclusion is necessarily incorrect, I'm just saying that what seems to be obvious, could possibly be false.

Eric Hellman, Director
OCLC Openly
Informatics Division
eric@openly.com http://openly.oclc.org/1cate/ 1 Click Access To

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

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

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