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The American Chemical Society journal "Organic letters" is one of the new
journals sponsored by SPARC. However, the subscription arrangments for the
electronic version of this title do not seem to correspond to generally
accepted standards. According to the ACS journals catalog for 2000, the
pice for this title is: Print, $2300; Web (one class C subnet), $2415;
Print and Web (1 class C subnet, $2760); Additional Class C subnets, $230;
Site License only, $ 3795; Print and Site License, $4350. The prices
represent a 20% surcharge for a single subnet, a 10% additional for each
additional subnet, and a 90% surcharge for a site license. (These are the
same relative prices as for all ACS journals.)

What is distinctly unusual is for the basic electronic access to be
restricted to one class C subnet. At any but the simplest institution, the
ip address ranges have generally no corresponence with building,
departments, or other logical arrangments. Even if it did, there are
typically chemists in more than one such unit, and essentially no other
professional organization expects extra payment in such cases -- after
all, it would nowadays hardly be likely for there to be more than one
print subscription per institution for such a title. If the site license
is considered the basic subscription, and the type C license a special
discount, the surcharge of 90% is by far the highest of any comparable
organization: the American Society of Biological Chemistry was previously
the highest at 40% (for comparison, the AIP has no surcharge for
electronic access; the Royal Society of Chemistry has no surcharge, and
even some of the competitive commercial publishers have no surcharge for
basic electronic access, and none of them has a rate nearly as high as

(I am aware that a typical institution may, like mine, well have a blanket
subscription, for which the rate is lower and access covers the entire
campus. Why should these not be the conditions for single title
subscriptions as well?) For the publisher of the most highly regarded and
cited journals in its subject to have these terms argues either a lack of
confidence in its publications, or a disregard for its members and

The subnet policy is bad in general, and the relative prices for
electronic access outrageous, but my immediate concern is the SPARC
sponsorship. SPARC is supposed to, I thought, both reduce costs and
promote good practices. I consider it inappropriate for its sponsorship to
be given to a journal published in this manner.

This represents my own personal views only. (This message, first posted on
the arl-ejournal list, is being also posted here at the request of the
moderator. I will forward any replies received on one list to the other
one also.--DG)

David Goodman 
Biology Librarian, and
Co-Chair, Electronic Journals Task Force
Princeton University Library 
dgoodman@princeton.edu         http://www.princeton.edu/~biolib/
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627