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Re: switch to electronic for large complex journals

I strongly support Alan Edelson's suggestion for not just Brain Research,
but also other similar extremely large journals (Elsevier has some, and so
do other publishers). I think that although this may save relatively
little in subscription cost, it will greatly aid the convenience of users
and librarians.  I would however be reluctant to suggest this for those
titles that people browse. In my experience this is one function which
many though not all users prefer to do in print, and I would be reluctant
to impose any one use pattern on everybody.  But for journals used as a
source for making photocopies, I do not think there is any question that
electronic is the preferred format.
The difficulty of keeping track of these very large journals, especially
those published in under multiple titles with dual numbering is of course
notorious. We all have our particular horrible examples in mind. I have a
new one though, that just occurred on this very list in the last few days:
I gave citation figures for the parts of Brain Research, but mistakenly
omitted one of its parts and sent a correction. Upon receiving the
publisher's journals catalog, I realized that in both the original and the
correction I had included the Elsevier title Behavioural Brain Research as
one of the parts. It isn't. That I can get muddled is no surprise to me,
but none of my colleagues on the list picked it up, and neither did those
associated with the publisher. Based on our collective current experience,
perhaps this and similar journal-complexes are due for some

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

Alan Edelson wrote:
> I believe that the explanation for a major part of the difference in the
> annual subscription price of Elsevier's journal BRAIN RESEARCH and the
> society-owned JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY is the difference in the
> number of paid subscribers. I am not currently privy to these figures, but
> believe that BRAIN RESEARCH has a paid circulation of not much more than
> 1,000. I suspect that those of JBC are 2-3 times as much. As you must
> appreciate, total unit costs fall precipitously, almost exponentially,
> when you can spread them over larger numbers of subscribers.  I know that
> many will want to believe that the major reason for the difference stems
> from the fact that one publisher is a society while the other is a
> commercial corporation which is concerned with the price of its stock
> (incidentally, Elsevier's stock has taken severe hits this year and is
> trading at historic lows), but I do not think that is the major cause of
> the discrepancy.
> One might argue that given the enormous number of pages published annually
> in BRAIN RESEARCH and its small and almost wholly institutional subscriber
> list (which I believe has been declining over recent years as costs rise),
> a very good argument could be made for saving some money (not as much as
> one might think) by abandoning the print edition and making it entirely an
> electronic journal. However, it is a fact that there are still many
> authors who would be nervous about archiving their major research papers
> on a computer. This will change, especially if authors, publishers, and
> librarians could work together to insure the long term permanance and
> security of digital archives. But that is another and very complex story.
> Alan M. Edelson, Ph.D.
> (retired) President and CEO,
> J.B. Lippincott Company