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Mark McCabe and Christopher M. Snyder, Academic Journal Prices in a Digital Age: A Two-Sided-Market Model, a preprint, May 2006.
Abstract: Digital-age technologies promise to revolutionize the market for academic journals as they have other forms of media. We model journals as intermediaries linking authors with readers in a two-sided market. We use the model to study the division of fees between authors and readers under various market structures, ranging from monopoly to free entry. The results help explain why print journals traditionally obtained most of their revenue from subscription fees. The results raise the possibility that digitization may lead to a proliferation of online journals targeting various author types. The paper contributes to the literature on two-sided markets in its analysis of free-entry equilibrium and modeling of product-quality certification.
From the body of the paper:
The key feature of the journals market captured in our framework is its “two-sided” nature. Subscribers on one side of the market benefit from the scholarship of authors on the other side. Conversely, authors benefit from having a large number of readers. Journals serve as intermediaries between the two sides. Drawing on the growing industrial-organization literature on two-sided markets, we develop a model tailored to the case of academic journals. We use the model to understand how the traditional structure of academic journal prices, with zero or low author fees on one side and high subscription fees on the other, might have arisen....We study the efficiency and competitive viability of a new model of journal pricing, open access, advocated by a growing number of scholars and librarians. The open-access model turns the traditional pricing model on its head, making articles freely available to readers over the Internet and deriving revenues instead from high author fees....
Comment. Like the Jeon/Rochet paper (blogged just before this one), McCabe and Snyder assume that all OA journals charge author-side fees when in fact most of them do not. I offer no judgment on how well their analysis applies to those that do charge fees.
Update. In correspondence with Mark, I've learned that his analysis does not assume that all OA journals charge author-side fees. (The claim in the introduction about OA journals and "high" author fees is most relevant for profit-maximizing firms; in the next revision of the paper they will clarify this point.) He and Snyder show that author-side fees can fluctuate down to zero, depending on other variables, and that one of the key variables is the availability of institutional subsidies.
Doh-Shin Jeon and Jean-Charles Rochet, The Pricing of Academic Journals: A Two-Sided Market Perspectives, a preprint, February 24, 2006.
Abstract: More and more academic journals adopt an open-acces polcy, by which articles are accessible free of charge through the Internet, while publication costs are recovered through author-fees. We study the consequences of this policy on the journal's quality standards. We show that if the journal is run by a not-for-profit association that aims at maximizing the utility of its members, the move to open-access may result in a decrease of quality standards below the socially efficient level.
From the conclusion:
Although we were not able to prove this result in full generality, we have established it for a reasonably large class of distribution functions. The basic intuition behind it is simple: if the association is controlled by the readers of the journal, it does not internalize the cost of the publication, which is covered by authors. As long as those authors are not budget constrained, the association will choose to publish too many articles.
Comment. The paper is highly mathematical and I have trouble putting my finger on what the authors think causes the alleged decrease in quality. I can't criticize the authors for addressing an audience of economists, but the rest of us could use some translation. First, note that the conclusion only applies to OA journals that charge author-side fees and that the majority of OA journals charge no such fees at all. Second, note that it only applies to journals published by non-profits, or at least those non-profits trying to maximize utility for their readers (association members). Among other things, I can't figure out why preserving quality isn't an obvious part of the journal's method of maximizing utility for readers. Do the authors assume that journals trying to maximize utility for readers put quantity ahead of quality? If so, why?
Update. A newer version of this paper, dated June 21, 2007, is now online. If this is the published edition, it doesn't mention the journal in which it was published.
Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications, a book marketing specialist, argues that Google Book Search will increase the net sales of most kinds of books, but not including academic monographs.
From a book marketing standpoint, it’s a good thing. Why? It’s simple. People can’t buy what they don’t know about. Google Book Search lets people find a book with the topic they’re searching for and allows them to peek inside. If they like it, and want more they can buy it.
Jennifer A. De Beer, Making the innovation case in Open Access scholarly communication, a presentation delivered at CERN workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (Geneva, October 20-22, 2005). Self-archived June 1, 2006.
Abstract: It seems almost unnecessary to have to elaborate additional reasons for the adoption of Open Access scholarly communication (OA sc) as manifested through Open Access journals and self-archiving practices. To those active within the OA arena, the case has been convincingly made, and current arguments merely need to be disseminated beyond the Library and Information Science (LIS) sphere. However, it is my contention that a convincing argument for OA sc needs to be launched from the Science Policy perspective if any government mandated pro-OA policy changes are to be effected. This paper, then, is an attempt at taking the OA discussion beyond the LIS arena and into the realm of Science and Innovation Policy. Using Innovation Theory as its theoretical framework, it is argued that Open Access scholarly communication can only serve to bolster Innovation Systems, be they national, regional, or sectoral. The case of South Africa is taken as an illustrative example, though the case can and will be generalised to beyond the South African science system. Making the case for OA within the context of Innovation is also of strategic import, since government policymakers frequently heed the advice of Science- and Innovation Policy researchers.
The Synaptic Leap has launched an open-source research project to cure or alleviate two tropical diseases. (Thanks to Glyn Moody.) Excerpt:
William Walsh has blogged a very detailed picture of Reed Elsevier's lobbying activity in the US since 1998. It's difficult to summarize or excerpt, so I'll just point and recommend. One nugget: "If these figures are correct, Reed Elsevier's annual spending on U.S. lobbying activities increased 695% from 1998 to 2005."
This is Bill's final posting for Georgia State University's very good blog, Issues in Scholarly Communication. He was one of the few bloggers anywhere who regularly found OA-related news items before the rest of the pack, including me. I wish him well at his next position.
Docwonk, Final OA thoughts, Free Government Information, June 2, 2006. Excerpt:
Ray English and Peter Suber, Public access to federally funded research: The Cornyn-Lieberman and CURES bills, College & Research Libraries News, June 2006. Excerpt:
The rationale for both the Cornyn-Lieberman bill and the public access provision of the CURES bill is straightforward. The federal government spends more than $55 billion annually to fund a wide variety of research in health, scientific, and other fields. Research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone results in more than 60,000 peer-reviewed articles per year. Wide, rapid, and easy access to the results of this research is essential for everyone who wishes to apply or build upon it, from other scientists and scholars to health care professionals, patients, manufacturers, teachers and students, policy-makers, nonprofit organizations, and citizens. Giving taxpayers access to the non-classified research for which they have paid will advance research and all the benefits of research, from health care and pollution control to energy independence and public safety....
I just mailed the June issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at the calculations purporting to show that high-output research universities would pay more in author-side fees for OA journals than they pay now in subscriptions for non-OA journals. It also takes a close look at Elsevier's new hybrid journals and the first month of news since the FRPAA was introduced into the US Senate. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the OA bill before the German Parliament, the national-level OA policies adopted or under consideration in Australia, Finland, Sweden, and South Africa, the OA mandate at India's National Institute of Technology, the OA recommendation at Humbolt University Berlin, the launch of new repositories at a handful of institutions around the world, and Gunther Eysenbach's new study confirming the existence of an OA impact advantage.
Dick Dahl, Attorneys proclaim Net gains with blogs, Long Island Business News, June 2, 2006.
The JISC VERSIONS Project has launched a pair of new questionnaires. From the announcement:
Do you wish to influence the development of version identification systems in university-managed open access collections? The VERSIONS Project is investigating current attitudes and practice relating to version identification in digital repositories and open access research paper collections. We invite you to participate in our user requirements study via one or both of our online questionnaires...
Frances Shipsey, Versions in the lifecycle of academic papers - user requirements and guidelines for digital repositories, a presentation delivered at CERN workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (Geneva, October 20-22, 2005). Self-archived June 1, 2006.
Abstract: An academic research paper evolves through various stages during its lifecycle, for example from early conference presentation through working paper to final published refereed journal article. Different versions can co-exist in publicly available electronic form. Finding out researchers’ attitudes towards storing, labelling and making accessible these different versions, both of their own and of their peers’ work is at the heart of the VERSIONS Project, funded by the JISC under the Digital Repositories Programme.
Tracey Caldwell, Content anxieties in a digital age, Information World Review, June 1, 2006. Excerpt:
In launching a major consultation exercise about what it should collect and what it should connect to, the British Library is looking to users to help formulate the right balance between connection and collection, print and digital....Caroline Pung, head of strategy and planning at the BL, and author of the content strategy document, says: “I hope this will give people a greater level of clarity about what we are trying to do and I hope it will lead to the BL making the right decisions as it prioritises today’scontent for the researchers of tomorrow.”...
Howard Pitler, Creative Commons: A New Tool for Schools, Innovate, June/July 2006 (free registration required). Excerpt:
Teachers and students should begin using this alternative to traditional copyright for a few reasons. One reason to include a Creative Commons license on work sent to the Internet is that it gives clear guidance to others of the creator's intent. As teachers and students are both consumers and creators of content on the Web, using and posting content with a Creative Commons license attached leaves no doubt regarding the intentions of the author. A second reason is that by talking about Creative Commons in both K-12 and college classrooms, teachers can engage students in a much-needed conversation about online ethics....Students in high school and college might discuss the relative merits of sharing work using a Creative Commons license as opposed to posting material with a conventional copyright....Most importantly, bringing Creative Commons to the classroom gives students and teachers a new tool for finding material that is both appropriate and legal to use...
Eric Kansa, Open Access and Politics, Digging Digitally, June 1, 2006. Excerpt:
Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Announcing BoneCommons - an open access forum for zooarchaeology, Digging Digitally, June 1, 2006. Excerpt:
ALPSP has published a new report by John Cox and Laura Cox, Scholarly Publishing Practice Academic journal publishers’ policies and practices in online publishing. Second Survey, 2005, June 2, 2006. This is the 2005 update of a survey the Coxes did for ALPSP in 2003. The new report is available for purchase, but the press release and executive summary are OA. From the executive summary:
Andy Patrizio, Taming the Digital Beast, Campus Technology, June 1, 2006. Excerpt:
Is your digital institutional repository out of control? It’s time to step back and look at contribution, access, rights, storage, and functionality --issues you don’t want to monkey with....
The June/July issue of Research Information is now online. This issue has a special section on OA, Consensus is difficult in open-access debate, consisting of short interviews by RI's Siân Harris with eight European leaders of the OA movement and one leading skeptic:
Update. Stevan Harnad has posted a corrected version of his interview.
The Seed blog has a good idea: every week, ask a question, inspire a lot of science bloggers to answer it, and then link to some of the better answers.
Here's the question for this week: "Since they're funded by taxpayer dollars (through the NIH, NSF, and so on), should scientists have to justify their research agendas to the public, rather than just grant-making bodies?"
Clearly this question is not about open access to publicly-funded research. But at least one blogger has written that Americans supporting open access through the recent Harris poll were saying that "the public should be able to vote on what projects/studies/experiments do or do not receive public funding." This is not true. Worse, it's harmful. Misrepresenting OA confuses newcomers and tying OA to a foolish idea makes OA look foolish. If you see this error propagating around the web, please correct it.
Lynne Brindley, Aspirations of the British Library in Serving the International Scientific and Scholarly Communities, the keynote address at the ARL meeting on International Dimensions of Digital Science and Scholarship (Ottawa, May 17-19, 2006). Brindley is the Chief Executive of the British Library. Excerpt:
We have a clear mandate to engage with the new forms of publishing and particularly with the open access and subject repository movement, in the development of tools for virtual communities, and to ensure join up with data repositories and the creators of e-science. There is a quite clearly a role for the national library vis-à-vis questions of quality assurance in the Web environment, in navigation, and in facilitating seamless access across repositories. In terms of the British Library’s role of supporting innovation we have a particular responsibility to ensure support for those small and medium enterprises that do not have the same access to rich and deep collections of digital science as do researchers with well-funded university libraries....
Christian Gumpenberger, Researchers and Open Access - the new scientific publishing environment, GMS Medizin - Bibliothek - Information, May 31, 2006. (Thanks to medinfo.) A report on the 1st European Conference on Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine and Medicine (Lund, April 21-22, 2006). While the title is in English, the article is in German.
Jamie Shreeve, Free Radical, Wired, June 2006. A profile of Harold Varmus, Nobel laureate, director of the NIH, and co-founder of the Public Library of Science. Excerpt:
Update. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a short summary of the Wired article in its June 5 issue (accessible only to subscribers).
Declan Butler, Breaking the silence: “If this was a test to see whether Indonesia could contain a virus, they failed miserably” Declan Butler, Reporter, May 31, 2006. Excerpt:
PS: For background see my April article on OA to avian flu data.
Andrew Rens, Achal Prabhala, and Dick Kawooya, Intellectual Property, Education and Access to Knowledge in Southern Africa, Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa, 2006. Excerpt:
The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a press release on the poll:
The ATA also links to the following files of survey results:
Harris Poll, Most Americans Back Online Access To Federally Funded Research, Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2006. Excerpt:
A table of the full results is included in the article but I don't have room to insert it here.
Comment. This is a shot in the arm for the CURES Act and FRPAA, the two bills now before Congress that would mandate OA to publicly-funded research. Scientists and scholars may not carry much weight in Washington these days, but strong poll numbers from a respected pollster are hard to ignore.
I suspect that these poll results could be replicated in most countries around the world. Could a UK version of this poll save the draft RCUK OA policy from being weakened by publisher lobbying?
Update. When I first posted this news, the poll itself was not yet online at the Harris web site. But now it is.
From today's announcement:
Hindawi Publishing Corporation is pleased to announce the addition of the following five journals to its Open Access journal collection:
PS: Kudos to Hindawi for another giant step forward.
Bobby Pickering, Euro online info market in rude health, Information World Review, May 31, 2006. Excerpt:
GlaxoSmithKline now provides OA to summaries of more than 2,600 clinical drug trials on 52 drugs. (Thanks to Research Research.) From GSK's May 24 press release:
Comment. As recently as December 2005, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) rated the major drug companies on their compliance with its data sharing standards, and criticized GSK for providing "meaningless entries" on a key data field in an "astonishingly" high number of cases. I have no idea whether the new GSK data summaries are any better and hope the ICMJE will weigh in on that. But I applaud Rockhold and Krall for calling on journals not to let the Ingelfinger rule block early OA to data.
Note the interesting reciprocity here. Editors of prestigious medical journals (ICMJE) demand that drug companies provide OA to their data. In fact they refuse to publish articles on clinical trials whose underlying data are not OA. Good move. A drug company criticizes journal editors (not necessarily the same editors) for deterring OA to data and calls on them to remove the obstacles. Good move. Both moves are very welcome and turn-about is fair play. But at the same time, both houses need to be put in order. Drug companies not yet complying with the call for full and meaningful data sharing need to start. Journal editors still deterring OA to data need to stop. For that matter, ICMJE editors need to see that OA to articles is as important as OA to data.
Sudan: Open-access digital library launched, Reuters, May 31, 2006. Excerpt:
The Rift Valley Institute (RVI) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday launched the Sudan Open Archive, an open-access digital library for Sudan, containing documents that until now were largely unavailable in digital form. "It is a dynamic, expanding archive," said John Ryle, chair of RVI. "Our aim is to put in historical and contemporary materials of all kinds."
John Udell, Re-imagining education, John Udell's Weblog, May 30, 2006. Excerpt:
Richard Seitmann, Ketten der Wissensgesellschaft - Der Kulturkampf über den Zugang zu wissenschaftlichen Veröffentlichungen verschärft sich, c't, May 29, 2006, pp. 190-99. Not online or OA, at least so far. (Thanks to netbib.)
Stevan Harnad, Plugging the Loopholes in the Proposed FRPAA, RCUK and EU Self-Archiving Mandates, Open Access Archivangelism, May 27, 2006. Excerpt:
The Canadian Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC) wants to amend Canadian copyright law in order to improve access to online content. From yesterday's press release:
"Because copyright legislation impacts directly on our policies and practices in classrooms across Canada, we are most concerned with fair and reasonable Internet access for students and teachers in their educational pursuits," says Minister [Jamie] Muir, whose consortium represents education ministers in Canada with the exception of the province of Quebec....
David Flaxbart, Public Science, Public Access, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Spring 2006. An editorial. Excerpt:
Quoting an anonymous researcher on LiveJournal (May 29):
I switched companies last year....I noticed, while trawling through the recent literature, that there appears to be an increased tendency for articles to cite other articles where the text is available freely (e.g. jounals like the excellent Drug Metabolism and Disposition) and is a simple click away when you find it through PubMed. Naturally if there is a key reference and it occurs in an obscure and/or closed-text publication it will be cited as a matter of course but, if there's a choice between the two, the free option appears to win more often. Those personal libraries of free PDF or HTML files make searching and citing very easy, while for the special requests most electronic retrieval facilities only supply inconvenient TIFFs of scanned documents instead. I'm glad that a journal's impact factor does not depend on it being pay-only and less accessible. In fact some of the free journals have very high impact factors. I know that money has to be made at some point but I really appreciate the open access journals and thank their publishers for making them available. It really helps to get the job done.
Henk Ellermann, Open J-Gate, In Between, May 29, 2006. Excerpt:
The ALPSP has released its response (May 30, 2006) to the EC report and its OA recommendations (March 31, 2006). Excerpt:
Comment. I've often replied to the concern that mandated self-archiving will harm journal subscriptions. But to recap quickly: on the one hand, all the evidence to date suggests that there is no harm, even in fields where the rate of self-archiving approaches 100%. And on the other hand, even if there will be harm, the public interest in public access to publicly-funded research takes priority over the economic interests of a private-sector industry. The ALPSP response emphasizes the fear of economic harm to journals, but doesn't even address the second fork in this two-prong debate, why the economic prosperity of publishers (even if proved to be at stake in these policies) should trump the public interest. As I put it in SOAN for 11/2/04, "publishers who object to [national OA policies] are defending the remarkable proposition that they should control access to research conducted by others, written up by others, and funded by taxpayers."
Stephen V. Pomes has launched a Yahoo group and discussion list on open access journals.
Karlheinz Pappenberger, Strategien zur Umsetzung von Open Access an der UB Konstanz, a presentation at German Librarian Day in Dresden, March 22, 2006. Self-archived May 25, 2006. In German, but here's Google's English version of the abstract:
Strategies for the conversion of open ACCESS at the UB Konstanz. Open ACCESS is not in the reason a new thought, but converts the most characteristic task of libraries on a new technical basis: Not to withhold information a singular use, whereby a free simultaneous world-wide use is possible technically for the first time. Libraries must create a suitable surrounding field for scientists as intermediaries of the scientific discussion that these open ACCESS publications notice and both when author and and readers use. The experiences at the library of the University of Konstanz show that for this a close co-operation with the scientists and the consideration of their specialized specific functions are important.
Advocacy for access to knowledge: International seminar on copyright and libraries in Kiev, UNESCO News, May 29, 2006. Excerpt:
[At the] end of last week, the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kiev, Ukraine, played host to experts from across the region at an international seminar on the role of libraries and access to knowledge....Thirty specialist librarians from twenty-five countries debated how copyright law impacts on access to information and knowledge, especially in the digital age and discussed policies and strategies to safeguard future access to our cultural and scientific heritage....
PS: I can't find a URL for the seminar itself yet. But if I do, I'll post it here.
Update. Here's the URL for the seminar. (Thanks to Rima Kupryte.)
Lawrence M. Sanger, The Future of Free Information, Digital Universe Journal, 2006. Sanger is one of the co-founders of the Digital Universe.
Abstract: The ideal information resource would feature high quality of content (i.e., be accurate and complete) as well as high accessibility (i.e., excel in availability, ease of use, and interactivity). This very programmatic paper first describes these various features and their implications. Then it applies the set of features to some extant resources, arguing that the ideal information resource does not yet exist. The paper speculates that, in the future, there will be little debate whether a startlingly new and better information resource is possible, because that much will be taken for granted; the debate will concern what the resource’s main features should be. Aiming to foster this debate, the paper concludes with a list of topics needed to be addressed to fully justify an answer to the question, “What would the ideal information resource look like?”
From the body of the article:
Outside of a few corporate talking heads and curmudgeons, there has been little opposition to open source and open content, probably because there is no good reason to be opposed to making freely-distributed information as widely available as possible—but also because the profits of proprietary projects have not yet seen much threat from these projects. It seems unlikely that all of the world’s information will be open content in the future; as long as authors, artists, and coders perceive no other viable model but traditional intellectual property to support their work, many of them will be opposed to simply “giving away” their work. But increasingly large segments of academe, government, and the general public, whose livelihoods do not depend on payment for specific pieces of work, have shown themselves to be perfectly willing to release their work under a license that makes it as widely available as possible. This trend is thriving.
Culture Machine, an OA journal and archive, is trying to build up deposits in its archive. From today's announcement: