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False comparison, re: Article based subscriptions

Science Direct, alas, is not a full text database of science literature,
but a full text database of that fraction of the scientific literature
published by one particular commercial publisher. (Academic Universe, on
the other hand, is a professional selection of material from a wide range
of commercial and noncommercial sources.)

There is no subject area where the journals in Science Direct are more
than a small part of the most important journals in the field, at least as
determined by such objective measures as citation analysis. (Academic
Universe, on the other hand, for much of its scope includes a very high
proportion of the most important material.)

This is not a reflection on the publisher of Science Direct (who is, after
all, the same as the publisher of Academic Universe). There is no large
multidisciplinary publisher, commercial or non commercial, whose journals
are uniformly the leading journals in their fields. This enviable status
is, to my knowledge, only achieved by some professional societies in their
own specialties, and it certainly makes sense for an academic library to
subscribe to the complete package of such publishers as ACS or AIP.

If my library had infinite resources, I would like to have available the
complete set of journals published by Elsevier and also all other academic
publishers. But my library has finite resources, and I think it most
useful to my patrons to devote those resources to the best and most used
journals in the relevant academic fields.

I suggest that those subscribing to plans such as Science direct are
buying what is most convenient to buy in bulk, not what is most needed.
(But then, maybe some of them do have infinite resources. There have been
those, including some publishers, who have been under the delusion that my
library does.)

David Goodman,
Princeton University
Biology Library		dgoodman@princeton.edu            609-258-3235

On Thu, 16 Sep 1999, Paul M. Gherman wrote:

> I think we need a new mind set as we approach electronic 
> publishing. The discussion we have been having is very much 
> based in the old subscription model of buying information. 
> Try to think not in terms of subscriptions but think of a 
> product like Science Direct as a full text database of 
> science literature.
> One subscribes to a database not individual parts of it.
> We are not give a choice to only subscribe to parts of
> Academic Universe, why should we only subscribe to parts
> of Science Direct. We learned from you participation in
> PEAK that our users were not just interested in those
> titles we subscribe to in paper. They used many other
> titles in the SD database.
> I agree that once subscription price might be related to
> ones current paper subscriptions. I see subscribing to the
> Science Direct database as offering our patrons much wider
> access to exactly the information they need and want, and
> not only the subset of titles we choose for them, and it is
> there for them 24/7 and anywhere they can access a
> computer.
> Plus we do not need to check in anything, buy shelves,
> reshelve, replace pages, or bind journals. Another savings
> what can be converted to purchase of more information. My
> mantra is we must convert infrastructure into information.
> The real savings - found money is the elimination of cost
> associated with the delivery of information to pure
> information. 
> Paul M. Gherman
> University Librarian
> 611B General Library
> 419 21st Avenue South
> Vanderbilt University
> Nashville, TN 37240
> Office: (615) 322-7120
> Fax: (615) 343-8279
> gherman@library.vanderbilt.edu