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RE: Should university presses adopt an OA model

In brief, the point of this post is that there is a very great 
range in efficiencies of existing publishers.  There are 
top-quality journals produced by the not-for-profits (society and 
professional associations, university presses) at minimal cost. 
For a healthy scholarly communication system into the future, 
libraries should support these affordable options.

Irving Rockwood (CHOICE) wrote:

...would not some of the energy we seem to be so committed to 
putting into making scholarly publishing costs go away, be better 
put into finding ways to ensure that we, as a society, can and do 
adequately fund things like education (including higher 

Comment:  I couldn't agree more.  In my opinion, everyone 
involved in scholarship and higher education - scholars, 
librarians, university administrators, students, and publishers - 
should be working together to help everyone to understand the 
importance of higher education and research, particularly in this 
pivotal time as we are going through so many transitions - to a 
global world and economy, a knowledge economy / society, and 
towards an environmentally sustainable economy.  All of these 
require significant and rapid advances in our knowledge, and many 
highly educated people with the skills for the work of the 

As for seeking efficiencies in scholarly publishing, as we have 
seen from recent discussion there is a very great range in cost- 
effectiveness of existing publishers.  There are quite efficient 
publishers providing high quality at low costs, to publishers 
providing basically the same quality at much higher costs.

CHOICE, as a monthly publication and a premiere source of 
reviews, at $315 US for a subscription, is below-average IN COST 
for an LIS title, and above-average in frequency and quality. 
The opportunities for efficiencies with such a journal are, 
obviously, a great deal less than with some other journals.

As a journal of reviews, CHOICE is of course different from peer- 
reviewed journals.  What about a peer-reviewed journal from the 
publisher of CHOICE, ACRL?  I did some analysis for a forthcoming 
book, and found that ACRL's College and Research Libraries is an 
incredible bargain - with a low subscription cost and substantial 
contents, the subscription cost on a peer-reviewed article basis 
is about $2.50 per article.  This is a very great deal less than 
other journals, even in LIS.  Another commercial journal with a 
comparable level of quality averaged about a hundred times more 
than College and Research Libraries.

For librarians, this is very important.  Keeping a high-cost 
option may mean cancelling dozens, even a hundred low-cost (but 
often high- quality) options.  This is one of the reasons why we 
need to take a more wholistic view of scholarly communication, to 
think about what kind of journal and monograph publishing options 
are in the best interests of scholarship in the medium-to-long 
term, and not just how to cope with the latest budget crisis.

What is in the best interests of scholarly communication?  A 
healthy and substantial not-for-profit sector:  society and 
professional journals, and university presses.  Competition in 
the commercial sector - missing from the subscriptions picture, 
but a real possibility with open access as authors, departments 
research funders actually see what they are paying for publishing 
services.  Open access, of course.

Any opinion expressed in this e-mail is that of the author alone, 
and does not represent the opinion or policy of BC Electronic 
Library Network or Simon Fraser University Library.

Heather Morrison, MLIS
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics