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Re: PEAK PROJECT & Article based subscription

	Questions have been raised and comments offered about the PEAK
project.  Let me offer some context-setting information about the project
and then also forward a message from the project's lead on the research

	PEAK (Pricing Electronic Access to Knowledge) is a collaboration
between the University of Michigan and Elsevier Science.  Begun in 1997 on
the heels of Elsevier's TULIP project, PEAK was developed to explore
issues of pricing and product models for e-journals.  PEAK was both a
journal delivery service as well as a field experiment.  I use the past
tense here since the research/data gathering aspect of the project ended
September 1.  During the preceding 18 months, 12 institutions participated
in the project (for a complete description of the project and participants
see:  http://www.lib.umich.edu/libhome/peak/).

	The PEAK research team developed several pricing and product
models.  Each participating institution was offered a different
combination of these models.  The three models were:

1. Traditional subscriptions:  in this model an institution could purchase
unlimited access to a specific journal title published by Elsevier

2. Generalized subscriptions: in this model, institutions pre-paid for
bundles of articles (120 articles in each bundle, represented in the
system by "tokens"). As users selected articles, tokens were debited from
the institution's subscription.  However, all selected articles were then
available at no incremental charge to the entire community of users.  In
other words, a single use (requiring a single token) then permitted free,
community-wide access.

3. Per article purchases: in this model individuals purchased unlimited
access to a specific article within all 1200 journals published by

 	The per article cost increased with each of these models. Thus,
articles in the traditional model were the least expensive.  Generalized
subscriptions offered an option for institutions to pre-pay for content
that would be accessible to the entire community.  This flexibility for
users to draw from all 1200 journals was added value and was associated
with a higher per article price than traditional subscriptions.  Finally,
individual articles could be purchased by individual users at the highest
per article price (the value here was the ability to purchase "on
demand").  Note, however, that even the per-article purchases was not a
pay-per-use model; the individual has unlimited online access to the
article after the initial purchase, with no incremental charge.

	As Karen Hunter (Elsevier) and Paul Gherman (Vanderbilt) have
noted, the generalized model was novel and attractive to many
institutions.  In the ideal implementation of this model, institutions
accumulate intellectual assets -i.e., users select articles which become
part of the archival, subscription base of the institution.  It reflects,
perhaps, a fundamental shift in the journal construct whereby the
title-specific "container" is no longer the unit of subscription.
Preliminary data-including data on article re-use-- have been reported in
several articles and presentations (see the above-mentioned project site
for citations).

	The University of Michigan research team is now engaged in a data
analysis phase, mining the very rich data we have gathered about use under
a variety of pricing and product models.  In addition to use data and
transaction logs, we have data from surveys of users early and late in the
project and a survey of institutional decision-makers.  We anticipate
disseminating our results broadly through publication, presentations, and
a conference to be held at Michigan in winter 2000.

	In a subsequent message, I will share comments from Professor Jeff
MacKie-Mason, Director of the Program in Research in Information Economics
at UM's School of Information.  Prof. MacKie-Mason heads up the PEAK
research team that includes librarians, economists, and technologists.

Wendy P. Lougee
PEAK Project Director 
Associate Director, University of Michigan University Library

Wendy P. Lougee                                               
Associate Director for Digital Library Initiatives
University Library
University of Michigan               ph:     734-764-8016
818 Hatcher South                    fax:    734-763-5080
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1205            email:  wlougee@umich.edu