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RE: Interlibrary loan and elect

Steve Heller brings up a point that I have a concern about, the
replacement of subscription economic models by an article level supply and
demand economic model.  If this becomes the direction for more commercial
oriented documents, the STM esoteric field would not benefit from this
model.  Heller raises the $1000 article, which could well happen. If that
is the case, would the field develop, and publish the articles which, at
the moment, do not appear to have economic value, but later on would be
the thought provoker for something significant? As more and more public
funding is replaced by private funding for research, will this affect an
undesirable outcome of when, and what will be published? 

As we move from a print distribution system to an electronic distribution 
system, we must remember that the history and orientation of the delivery 
medium is transactional based, used to packaging, distributing, and 
accounting for items on a transactional basis. 
Perhaps we need to step back and look at the entire process, from funding
of research to delivery of its results, to see what the appropriate
paradigms should be. One help in determining that would be to get a better
base of information. One cannot get an accumulative perspective of the
volumn of ILL that happens on an annual basis. One is forced to put
together many bits and pieces. One cannot find any analyses on user
behavior in relation to the use of computerized systems to search,
identify, request, and obtain documents that fulfill a requirement. There
are several tests going on at institutions that are replacing
subscriptions with document delivery. More published results of these
experiments would be of help. 

In sum, there are many players with high stakes in this scenario. It may 
be painful to some, but gethering a more cohesive base of data, in key 
areas, would certainly help a lot.

Dennis Auld
Director, PsycINFO
American Psychological Association
750 First St. NE
Washington, DC, 20002
Phone: 202-336-5636  Fax: 202-336-5633

*********Forwarded Message Follows 

As i see it, right now publishers survive by selling subscriptions for 
everything that gets into their journals.  All of it may (should) be of 
scholarly quality, but most of it is read only only by the author(s), 
reviwers, and copy editor.  So you are really buying dozens or hundreds 
of articles for the 1-2 you really want.  For a good journal in science 
this comes to $500 + per useful article.

Go to a fee for each article makes sense in some ways, but when publsiher 

xyz decides to charge $1000 for each each article (knowing they will sell 

very few), what will people do?

Publishers have a certain overhead and try (or do) make a profit.  Divide
the number of subscriptions by their desired income and you get the price
of a current journal.  Divide the number by a few articles and you get a
higher number.  Of course, if this was the real world, there would be
downsizing and cost cutting so that there was not the need for a high
level of income to produce the same profit.  But we are dealing with 5
year olds who want their way, don't listen, and know everything (i.e,
scholars who feel they need to publish in a high price journal or 
One of these days someone will have to tell them to grow up before they
bankrupt the libraies of this world. 

Steve Heller, USDA, ARS, Plant Genome Project
Bldg. 005, Room 337
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 USA
Phone: 301-504-6055   FAX: 301-504-6231
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