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Re: the Yale argument on open-choice


I can see what you are saying about the subscription model though it seems to me (as we have seen) that there are a number of constraints now on maximimising revenue but I cannot see that the "author-pays" model does intrinsically prevent inflation. If a journal that rejects 90% of submissions sets author rates reflecting the cost they will be high - will they not? I am assuming that this hypothetical journal has a high impact factor and it is generously prestigious. What is to stop its owners, whoever they are, charging more "than they need" in order to use the surplus for whatever needs they have?

I well remember when BMC was launched that the $500 charge then was seen as the maximum and it was said (not by you) that they expected to be undercut and that $300 was possible. We have (have we not?) had a lot of inflation in your author charges and in the author charges of other OA journals.

I am not suggesting that a satisfactory model is not possible but I do not understand how the theory you invoke works out in practice.

----- Original Message -----

From: "Matthew Cockerill" <matt@biomedcentral.com>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 10:24 PM
Subject: Re: the Yale argument on open-choice

Is it not clear, though, that price inflation is an expected consequence of the subscription model?

If the research community hands over ownership/exclusive rights to publishers, it is economically predictable that publishers (whether commercial or not-for-profit) will charge as much as they can in order to maximize their revenues. Given that the academic community *really* needs access to that research, there is virtually no upper bound on what publishers with enough market power can get away with charging for subscriptions . The natural solution to this is surely for the research community *not* to give away the ownership/exclusive rights to the research.

Under an open access publishing model, you immediately have a much more effective market. The customer (the research community) can choose the publication service that offers the best value, ensuring that prices are kept down. This kind of 'substitutability' generally doesn't exist with the subscription model - hence the problem of journal inflation.

Matt Cockerill
BioMed Central

On 20 Mar 2007, at 22:34, Rick Anderson wrote:

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.
I'm not even convinced that there are many problems with the traditional model of user-pays publishing. The model itself works great, as Joe points out. The problem is with price inflation. If all journal subscriptions cost $5 per year, no one would be complaining about the subscription model.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries