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RE: Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey 2009

This is a historical point so do turn off here.

I am not sure that Alan is right in his remarks in the third and 
fourth paragraphs.

I started my career in publishing in 1971 and was editorial 
director of Academic Press London during part of that decade. We 
did not use page charges except in the case of one journal and 
these page charges were inappropriately levied by a very high 
profile journal editor to improve speed to publication. The 
publisher did not know this!

We all know how moralistic librarians and publishers are about 
their practices and in this case I was brought up to believe from 
the start that page charges were immoral because they were an 
impediment to publishing. If you are based outside the US this is 
more likely to be an obvious way of looking at them. Outside the 
US grants did not on the whole allow page charges to be claimed. 
However my memory is that the journals of Academic Press NY did 
not levy page charges.

Incidentally this is not a matter of a distinction between 
commercial and not-for-profit. I was later head of journals at 
OUP. I do not think we levied page charges


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Sent: 19 May 2010 23:11
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: RE: Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey 2009

I think Sandy makes a very important point about 'unintended 
consequences' - it can happen to anyone, but I think Governments 
and funding agencies are very prone to this with legislation and 
policy implementation, particularly if they don't understand the 
system they are dealing with, and even more so when they think 
they do understand, but don't.

Here's another example, still possibly relevant today, but from a 
few decades ago, as related to me by a very respected US 
publisher. The page charge system was relatively popular in some 
disciplines in the USA, and had some good arguments in support of 
it (and of course still exists). Now, if I remember correctly, 
the National Science Foundation (NSF) allowed their grants to 
carry an allocation for the payment by authors of page charges, 
but only if the publisher were a not-for-profit (this must have 
been one of the first occasions when an agency appeared to take 
an 'anti-commercial publisher' stance?). Clearly they felt that 
their money should not go into the coffers of a 'commercial.'

Then some of the large European publishers made a bit of a virtue 
out of a necessity, and proclaimed that no page charges were 
necessary in their journals, and it became a standard line for 
all start-up journals from almost any source.

Now the director of one of the largest American Society 
publishers told me that the effect of this was to entice good 
European and then US authors to some of those journals, so much 
so that he had to gather and present evidence to his Governing 
Board that this was happening to some of the best papers they 
would have hoped to publish, and damaging their US journals - and 
they reacted by reducing page charges to try to regain the 
ground, such that, eventually, page charge income reduced 
significantly - and library subscription prices had to rise to 
retain viability. It's pointless, but nevertheless interesting, 
to speculate what might have happened if that (the NSF policy) 
hadn't happened - would page charges have spread further, to a 
point that, in the electronic age, the 'Gold' OA route would have 
been so well primed that a transition to it would have been 
seamless and easy? Probably not. But I wouldn't mind betting that 
the consequence of the NSF policy was not one that they intended.


Alan Singleton
Learned Publishing
BS37 6QN