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Publishing Research Consortium (PRC) Studies What Prompts Journal Cancellations

Librarians will embrace open access resources and cancel subscriptions when possible, according to a study of librarian purchasing preferences conducted by Scholarly Information Strategies on behalf of the Publishing Research Consortium, an independent group representing publishers and scholarly societies. The study, Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Co-existence or Competition? calls into question “previous claims that librarians will continue to subscribe to journals,” when some or all of the content is freely available in institutional archives. “Overall, the survey shows that a significant number of librarians are likely to substitute OA materials for subscribed resources,” the summary states, “given certain levels of reliability, peer review and currency.” The study, conducted in July 2006, surveyed over 400 librarians internationally, collecting their general attitudes to open access and analyzing the relative importance of specific “decision-making factors such as price, embargo period, article version, and reliability of access.”

Price, of course, was a major factor. Currency, however, is also critical and cannot be overlooked, the report stresses. In other words, embargoes of any kind were specifically frowned upon. “Resources become much less favored if they are embargoed for any length of time,” the study concludes. The survey tested the effect of embargoes on both OA and licensed content and found there was a “significant effect” on librarians’ preference for open access resources when the embargo period was set to at least 12 months. The study, however, bolsters claims made by publishers in opposing government-mandated archiving policies, such as the one initially proposed by the NIH in 2004, finding that a “six-month embargo has little impact” on librarians’ preference for open access. Unsurprisingly, however, the study finds that librarians will generally prefer open access because the price is right. “Librarians show a strong preference for content that is made freely available,” the study notes. “Even as librarians were asked to trade off price considerations against other factors, such as the version of the content and the immediacy of its availability, there remained a significant pull towards free content or content whose cost had been greatly reduced.”

Library Journal Academic Newswire, Nov. 9 2006


Harnad: PRC Open Access Study Flawed

Open Access pioneer Stevan Harnad this week took aim at a recently released study by the Publishing Research Coalition, saying its methodology is fundamentally flawed and that its main conclusion, that librarians will cancel journals and substitute OA materials, remains unproven. In a critique posted to the departmental repository of his home institution, the University of Southampton (UK), Harnad posits that the survey, which asked librarians which of three hypothetical products they preferred (with a variety of combinations and properties), “has a glaring methodological flaw” because it does not properly address open access through self-archiving. “The questions on which [the survey] is based were about relative preferences for acquisition among competing ‘products’ having different combinations of properties,” Harnad explained. “But self-archived articles are not products purchased by acquisitions librarians, they are papers given away by researchers, anarchically, and in parallel. Hence from the survey’s ‘Share of Preference model’ it is impossible to draw any conclusions about self-archiving causing cancellations by librarians, because the librarians were never asked what they would cancel, under what conditions; just what hypothetical products they would prefer over what.”

The study also concluded that, when possible, librarians will prefer free or low-cost resources, a conclusion that also failed to impress Harnad. “Of course [librarians] would prefer lower-priced, immediate products over higher-priced, delayed products!” Harnad wrote. But the “banal fact that everyone would rather have something for free rather than paying for it” he noted, does not “fill the gaping evidential gap about the existence, size, or timing of any hypothetical effect of self-archiving on cancellations.” Nevertheless, Harnad agrees that, in a potential future where all researchers self-archive, journal subscriptions would feel the pinch: “It is important to state clearly that, although there is still no evidence at all of self-archiving causing cancellations, it is possible, indeed probable, that self-archiving will cause some cancellations, eventually.”

The question of whether or how actively librarians would cancel journals, however, is not apparently a major concern for Harnad. “Even if valid evidence should eventually emerge that OA self-archiving does cause journal cancellations,” he wrote, “it would be for the publishing community to adapt to that new reality, not for the research community to abstain from it, and its obvious benefits to research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, and the tax-paying public.”

Library Journal Academic Newswire, Nov 16, 2006


Transitions: scholarly communications news for the UI community | September 2006

September 2006
Issue 1.06

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Transitions.

The purpose of this irregular electronic newsletter is to bring to readers’ attention some of the many new projects and developments affecting the current system of scholarly communication, with emphasis on new products and programs, the open access movement and other alternative publishing models. Scholarly communication refers to the full range of formal and informal means by which scholars and researchers communicate, from email discussion lists to peer-reviewed publication. In general authors are seeking to document and share new discoveries with their colleagues, while readers–researchers, students, librarians and others–want access to all the literature relevant to their work.

While the system of scholarly communication exists for the benefit of the world’s research and educational community and the public at large, it faces a multitude of challenges and is undergoing rapid change brought on by technology. To help interested members of the UI community keep up on these challenges and changes we plan to put out 6-8 issues per year of this newsletter. The current issue, covering recent events stretching back to the spring of 2006, is longer for that reason than we expect for the typical issue.

This newsletter aims to reflect the interests of its readers so please forward comments, suggestions and entries to include to karen-fischer@uiowa.edu. Also, read the health sciences counterpart to Transitions: Hardin Scholarly Communication News.

Table of Contents

U of Iowa Provost Supports Federal Research Public Access Act

Rallying Behind Open Access

Google’s Big Book Scanning Project: Read up!

Introducing the Networked Scholar: Institute for the Future of the Book Launches MediaCommons

ACLS History eBook Project and Rutgers U. Press Introduce “Breakthrough” Ebooks

Academics Start Their Own Wikipedia For Media Studies

Retooled “Create Change” Web Resource Helps Faculty Fulfill the Promise of Digital Scholarship

Editorial board of Elsevier journal resigns in protest

Progress toward OA in art history

American Physical Society Expands Open Access Offerings

Three big publishers offer Open Access Options

Announcing the Launch of Chemistry Central

Digital University/Library Presses: Internet-First University Press

Turning Public Data into National Security Secrets

Scholarly Communication: Academic Values and Sustainable Models


Retooled “Create Change” Web Resource Helps Faculty Fulfill The Promise of Digital Scholarship

Fully Revised Version of Popular Web Site Looks at Scholarly Information Sharing on the Internet

Washington, DC – SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and ARL (Association of Research Libraries), with support from ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries), today announced the re-launch of the Create Change Web site, a popular resource on scholarly communication issues. The site has been updated to provide faculty with current information, perspectives, and tools that will enable them to play an active role in advancing scholarly information exchange in the networked environment.

The new Create Change Web site (http://www.createchange.org) is based around the idea that the ways faculty share and use academic research results are changing rapidly and irreversibly. By posing the question, “Shouldn’t the way we share research be as advanced as the Internet?” the site outlines how faster and wider sharing of journal articles, research data, simulations, syntheses, analyses, and other findings fuels the advance of knowledge. It also offers practical ways faculty can look out for their own interests as researchers.

“Access to research and scholarship is in the news; faculty deserve an up-to-date examination of how new policies and technologies can benefit them and their colleagues,” said Heather Joseph, SPARC Executive Director. “SPARC and ARL took a fresh look at our Create Change program, which has received so much positive feedback in the past, and redeveloped the Web site to reflect today’s needs and perspectives. Faculty will find it an invaluable tool for understanding the changing landscape of scholarly communication, and librarians will discover a uniquely useful means of introducing the topic to their faculty and administrators.”

“The redeveloped Create Change site is a timely new resource that focuses on exploring the potential for scholarly exchange in the ever-increasingly networked environment,” said Karla Hahn, Director of ARL’s Office of Scholarly Communication. “With change in scholarly communication systems continuing to happen at such a rapid pace, the site will be a key tool in engaging researchers and librarians around the fundamental issues.”

The Create Change Web site includes sections on digital scholarship and new modes of communication; examples of change in diverse fields; and ways to stay informed on new developments. It offers tailored guidance for researchers who play many roles in their professional lives – as researcher, author, reviewer, editor, editorial board member, society member, faculty member, or teacher. The site features selected news items; an ongoing series of interviews with scholars from different disciplines; and scores of links to other Web sites and resources.

SPARC News Release, June 22, 2006


American Physical Society Expands Open Access Offerings

The American Physical Society (APS) is pleased to announce that it will soon expand its Open Access (OA) offerings to articles published in Physical Review A-E, Physical Review Letters, and Reviews of Modern Physics. This OA initiative is called FREE TO READ and, when released in early September 2006, can be appliedto any article or group of articles published in the Journals of the American Physical Society back to 1893. Anyone (authors, readers, institutions, funding agencies, etc.) may, by paying a one-time fee, make articles published in our journals available on our sites to all readers at no cost and without a subscription. Readers will have access to PDF and postscript versions of the FREE TO READ articles through the APS online journals.

For years APS has been a leader in OA with its early and continued support of arXiv.org and with its exemplary copyright agreement form. The agreement allows authors to make available their APS publications on their own or their institutions website. APS introduced its first OA journal, Physical Review Special Topics – Accelerators and Beams, in 1998. Based on a sponsorship model, this journal has steadily grown over the past 8 years and is now supported by an international group of accelerator laboratories. APS introduced a second OA journal in 2005 called Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research. This freely available journal is financed by publication charges to the authors or the authors institutions. The introduction of FREE TO READ extends OA to the articles for all of APS’ journals.

The FREE TO READ fees will initially be $975 for articles in Physical Review A-E and $1300 for Letters in PRL. Articles in RMP, due to their large size and the limited number published annually, will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The higher price associated with PRL is due to its higher cost per published Letter (because of its stringent acceptance rate).

The fees will initially augment revenues for the APS, since they will not be replacing subscriptions, but have been set well below the current amount per article needed to recover costs in the absence of subscriptions. The fees will therefore be adjusted as necessary to maintain APS’s ability to sustain this initiative. Additional revenues from FREE TO READ will primarily be used to lower the current subscription rates of the smallest (lowest
tier) institutions.

The FREE TO READ initiative represents a path by which APS could gradually transition to full Open Access. If the community (especially institutions and funding agencies) shows continued support for this initiative, a sustainable level may be reached in which the APS can recover its costs, offset its risks, and eliminate subscriptions for some or all of its journals.

The APS is determined to extend every effort to make this model successful. Martin Blume, the Editor-in-Chief, states that “APS is a financially stable organization willing to take risks to support the community,” and it is with the community in mind that APS is offering FREE TO READ.

For additional information, please go to the FREE TO READ FAQ at http://publish.aps.org/FREETOREAD_FAQ.html


Turning Public Data into National Security Secrets

Kudos to William Burr, who has documented an attempt to censor US history by suppressing information previously and officially public. See his new report, How Many and Where Were the Nukes? What the U.S. Government No Longer Wants You to Know about Nuclear Weapons During the Cold War , The National Security Archive, August 18, 2006. (Thanks to Free Government Information.)

The Pentagon and the Energy Department have now stamped as national security secrets the long-public numbers of U.S. nuclear missiles during the Cold War, including data from the public reports of the Secretaries of Defense in 1967 and 1971, according to government documents posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive.

Pentagon and Energy officials have now blacked out from previously public charts the numbers of Minuteman missiles (1,000), Titan II missiles (54), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (656) in the historic U.S. Cold War arsenal, even though four Secretaries of Defense (McNamara, Laird, Richardson, Schlesinger) reported strategic force levels publicly in the 1960s and 1970s….

Open Access News, Aug. 21, 2006


Scholarly Communication: Academic Values and Sustainable Models

C. Judson King and five co-authors, Scholarly Communication: Academic Values and Sustainable Models, Center for Studies in Higher Education, July 27, 2006.

Abstract: This study reports on five interdisciplinary case studies that explore academic value systems as they influence publishing behavior and attitudes of University of California, Berkeley faculty. The case studies are based on direct interviews with relevant stakeholders –faculty, advancement reviewers, librarians, and editors– in five fields: chemical engineering, anthropology, law and economics, English-language literature, and biostatistics. The results of the study strongly confirm the vital role of peer review in faculty attitudes and actual publishing behavior. There is much more experimentation, however, with regard to means of in-progress communication, where single means of publication and communication are not fixed so deeply in values and tradition as they are for final, archival publication. We conclude that approaches that try to “move” faculty and deeply embedded value systems directly toward new forms of archival, “final” publication are destined largely to failure in the short-term. From our perspective, a more promising route is to (1) examine the needs of scholarly researchers for both final and in-progress communications, and (2) determine how those needs are likely to influence future scenarios in a range of disciplinary areas.

From the body of the paper:

These scholars had minimal, if any, understanding of open access models, although they were somewhat familiar with the “open” concept. We found that scholars are generally receptive to the ideal of making knowledge available for the “public good.”…

Faculty did have a good understanding that the high cost of journals is problematic and faculty in chemical engineering, in particular, viewed open access models as a possible alternative to commercial presses. Some faculty refuse to publish in particular journals because of their high cost and pricing mechanisms. Senior faculty appeared to be more comfortable with the idea of sharing material at the early stages of work (e.g., preprint servers), as did faculty in chemical engineering, biostatistics, and law and economics in general. Archaeologists already use some open access websites to share field observations….

The largest concern among scholars was the perception that open access models had little or no means of quality control, such as peer review. Some faculty in biostatistics, interestingly, equated the high cost of print journals with quality and believed that online open access models are “cheaper” and therefore might be prone to lower standards. Others expressed fear that scholarly work placed in open access models could be “stolen,” although faculty with a better understanding of the online publication process saw licensing bodies, such as Creative Commons, as a potential solution.

Scholars were generally not aware of author-pays models. Once explained, faculty responses were universally negative. Paying to publish one’s work was perceived as self-promotion and fundamentally in conflict with the peer review process. English-language literature faculty, in particular, equated the author-pays models to vanity presses, while those in the sciences equated it with advertising and therefore believed that any such publication would compromise academic integrity….

Results from the project suggest that examinations of how new media should and will affect scholarly communication and publication must recognize that, for the foreseeable future, the values surrounding final archival publication are deep and relatively inflexible in research universities. On the other hand, what scholars value and want will eventually become accepted practice. This is a much more realistic way of looking at issues than is devising models and modes of communication because of their cost efficiencies or other non-research criteria and then trying to draw scholars to them.

Comments (by Peter Suber, Open Access News, Aug. 17, 2006)

1. This report shows just how much educating we still have to do. I support the general conclusion that it’s more promising to devise systems of scholarly communication that match existing academic values than to pitch new systems, no matter how cool, that require changing or abandoning those values. But OA satisfies this criterion far better than the existing TA system. The problem is that most scholars still know very little about OA. And I must say that the authors of this study apparently did more to confuse than enlighten their interview subjects before interviewing them.
2. The interview subjects didn’t realize –in sufficient numbers– that OA journals perform peer review and can be as rigorous as TA journals. They didn’t realize that OA journals can use the same review standards, procedures, and even the same people (editors and referees) as TA journals. Nor did they realize that OA repositories can contain articles peer-reviewed at the most prestigious TA journals. (About 70% of peer-reviewed TA journals already permit author-initiated OA archiving.)
3. The interview subjects didn’t realize that OA is compatible with copyright and does not require putting works into the public domain. On the contrary, most OA initiatives want to use copyright (in the words of the BOAI) to “give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”
4. Not surprisingly, the interview subjects knew little or nothing about how OA journals pay their bills. The interviewers apparently introduced the false and harmful term “author pays” before asking interviewees what they thought about it. Indeed, these interviews demonstrate what kind of harm that term can cause. Both interviewers and interviewees need to understand (a) that most OA journals charge no author-side fees at all, (b) that at the minority of OA journals where fees exist, funders or employers typically pay on behalf of authors, or the journal waives the fee because of economic hardship, and hence (c) that these fees are rarely paid by authors out of pocket. They also need to understand that, where fees exist, they only apply to papers already accepted by peer review and that no journal using independent peer review deserves to be called a vanity press.
5. It’s still true, as I’ve been saying for too many years now, that the largest obstacles to OA are ignorance and misunderstanding.

Open Access News, Aug. 17, 2006