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RE: Critique of OA metric

There are other important aspect of the journal brand, besides a 
given quality level (however defined).  The editor and reviewers 
also select articles of interest to a particular community, and 
collect them together in one (physical or virtual) place, so that 
readers don't have to search everywhere for them (this may go 
further, and reflect the editorial team's particular take on the 
area, though this doesn't always happen).

In some ways I would say that the signal 'what this journal's 
about' is an even more crucial one to readers than 'what is the 
quality level of this journal'.  Interestingly, PLoS One would 
appear to lack that signal (but then, I suppose, so does Nature!)

Sally Morris
Partner, Morris Associates - Publishing Consultancy
Email: sally@morris-assocs.demon.co.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Ahmed Hindawi
Sent: 26 October 2009 23:22
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Critique of OA metric

I don't think the amount of author-side payments or the 
percentage of their coverage of the cost of the publication is as 
fundamental as being characterized in Sandy Thatcher's reply 
here. IMHO, the most importance factor that differentiates OA 
publishing from vanity publishing is the existence of the brand 
and the publisher's desire to keep and enhance that brand by 
editorially selecting what they accept for publication. The 
typical vanity book publisher who relies on author payments does 
not care about the quality of the books they publish because 
there is brand based on the correlation between the quality of 
different books in their program.

It is quite different when it comes to OA journal publishing, 
where the publisher is trying to build a brand for the journal by 
publishing only manuscripts of a particular quality level. This 
leads to better reputation for the journals and the publisher 
knows that this will lead to more manuscripts being submitted to 
the journals for possible publication. If the correlation between 
the quality levels of different articles in the same journal 
became irrelevant, the publishers will behave quite differently 
(I have possible causes and possible consequences of this 
happening in the future in "2020: A Publishing Odyssey" 

In my opinion there are two reasons for not seeing a Gold OA 
scholarly book publishing programs or attempts by publishers: the 
less important one is that it costs significantly more to publish 
a scholarly book than it costs to publish a scholarly article (an 
order or magnitude more in the estimation of many that know 
better than me), which makes it more difficult to fund by 
author-side payments. The more important reason is that it is 
difficult to establish a brand as a book publisher because 
authors don't expect that much correlation between the quality of 
books published by a particular publisher. The journal brand as a 
"Stamp of Quality" of the articles it publishes is certainly much 
more visibile than the publisher brand as a "Stamp of Quality" 
for the books it publishes.

Ahmed Hindawi

On Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 11:34 PM, Sandy Thatcher <sgt3@psu.edu> wrote:
> Phil doesn't mention this, but one wonders why Shieber thought he
> could draw conclusions about OA STM journal publishing by looking
> at what happens in trade book publishing. =A0Not only is book
> publishing VERY different from journal publishing, but it is even
> VERY different from most of the publishing that academic presses
> do.
> Moreover, in terms of subsidies requested from authors, both
> vanity academic publishers and the best university presses ask
> for subsidies; the main difference is that the former request
> them routinely, and they usually have to come out of the authors'
> own pocket, whereas for the latter subsidies are requested only
> when truly needed to make publication of a book feasible and they
> often come from departmental or foundation funds, not the authors
> directly. But, in any event, for university presses anyway, there
> is no correlation at all between the amount of subsidy required
> and the quality of the publication.
> Sandy Thatcher
> Penn State University
>>In another of his series of fine posts, Phil Davis has a good 
>>critique of some of the metrics for OA that are coming out of 
>>Harvard. Definitely worth a look:
>>Joe Esposito