[Taxacom] Publciation Costs
deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Wed Jul 12 17:21:32 CDT 2006
Yes, everything costs money. Getting out of bed this morning, I expended
ATP energy to contract muscles to lift the sheets off and swing my body
around into an upright position. Those ATP molecules came about from energy
stored in glucose, which I acquired through eating food -- and food costs
I'm not trying to be sarcastic -- I'm trying to make a point. The costs of
some things just get absorbed into the activities of day-to-day life. The
laptop computer I am typing this on did indeed cost money -- a LOT of money
($4000). But I don't try to amortize the cost the laptop over everything I
use it for (like sending this email). Rather, I view having a laptop, and
the cost of the electricty needed to run it, as a basic "cost of doing
business" for someone who spends a lot of time dealing with informatics (and
other things digital). Everything I do just gets absorbed into it.
Here's my take on the publishing thing: the amount of energy, material
resources and time required to distribute information to thousands of people
around the world in the form of ink and paper is ENORMOUS compared to the
alternatives available to us today. During the several centuries when ink
and paper was the most cost-effective way to disseminate information, the
information-dissemination process was itself non-trivial in cost; and this
was true right up until the last couple of decades.
I know -- it's a cliche that computer technology has revolutionized things.
But the revolution started before the internet. My PhD advisor literally
used to buy "Liquid Paper" ("White-out") by the case -- because he typed all
of his manuscripts on a manual typewriter. It was the job of the publisher
to painstakingly transcribe, charcater by character, the entire manuscript
into a form that could be printed. Now, of course, the characters are
transferred from the MS file to the publishing file electronically. I'm sure
lots of supurb typists found it increasingly difficult to get a job in the
scientific publishing business.
Another critical role that journals serve is in the peer review process -
something utterly fundamental to all scientific research. However, I think
the reason this step in the scientific process is currently managed by
publishers is that historically, this has been the only practical way to do
it. I'm not so sure this paradigm is the best way to do it in the current
and future context, however... (this is the cue for Doug Yanega to step into
the conversation...) But the main point here is that the biggest cost of
the Peer Review process -- the time and input of the reviewers themselves,
and the time for the author to make the necessary alterations to the MS) --
is not bourne by the publisher.
The next step is the formatting and layout. This can be a non-trivial task
as well (I speak from experience, having just finished working with that
same advisor to lay-out his latest 560-page book with more than 1000 color
photos in Desktop-Publishing software -- and I can say with pride that not a
drop of "Liquid paper" was spilt....) But a huge part of that work was
ultimately related to the fact that the book is going to be printed on
paper. Documents going only as far as a PDF do not require as much effort
on the layout. I'd bet that many currently active scientists (and I'd wager
all active scientists a few decades hence) have at their disposal the tools
and know-how to format documents on their own -- at least well enough to
accurately communicate the information content of their science to other
scientists. In fact, for my first online-only publication, I, as author,
did all the page-layout stuff myself -- which was WONDERFUL, because I got
to put the figures exactly where I wanted them, and there was no need to
review proofs. The final version of the MS (post peer-review) was exactly
as I wanted it.
Then, of course, the cliche about the internet and the cost of actual
information dissemination. 'Nuff said on this one, methinks. [With one
caveat: I *know* not everyone -- and not even all scientists -- have access
to the internet; but that seems to be changing pretty quickly, and besides,
the same can be said about access to libraries, and availability of money to
pay for jounral subscriptions....]
Before anyone brands me as being a revolutionary wishing to extinguish all
publishers, let me make a few counterpoints. First of all, I am
increasingly convinced that there is something intrinsically preferable to
reading ink on paper, as opposed to black pixels against white. I used to
think it was imaginary -- but I'm not so sure anymore. Also, tablet
computers notwithstanding, it's not generally as easy to mark-up and
annotate a personal copy of a PDF, compared to what one can do with a paper
copy and a pen. Also, Neal Evenhuis pointed out to me that many scientific
societies are focused around journals, and the loss of those journals could
lead to the end (or great reduction of) scientific gatherings (meetings &
conferences). My initial reaction to this was, "so what?" (i.e., email,
Skype, etc.) But on reflection, I see this as possibly representing and
insideous threat to intellectual progress. Maybe I'm from the last
generation for which this is true -- but I correspond with email every day,
I've done video teleconferences (even presented at a few meetings via
teleconference), and I've moderated online conferences -- and NONE of those
activities gives me anywhere near the same intellectual "satisfaction" (for
lack of a better word) of being in the same physical room with colleagues,
and participating in debate, hallway conversations, etc., etc. I rarely go
home from work having that same sense of excitement and inspiration I
usually get after a face-to-face meeting.
And, there is the role of the Jounral Editor; which doesn't really have a
good replacement in the technology/internet world -- at least not in
functioning practice. Maybe Wikipedia will sort this out, but in the realm
of science, I still see Editors as serving critical role in the publication
I ended up ranting on this much more than I originally intended to. I guess
that means this email cost more money than planned in my original "budget".
At least I wrote it over my lunch hour, and therefore did not cost my
employer any of my salaried time. But about those ATPs I consumed this
morning getting out of bed....I'm now faced with a bit of a deficit, having
not had my lunch...
> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu]On Behalf Of B.J.Tindall
> Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 8:15 PM
> To: TAXACOM
> Subject: [BULK] Re: [Taxacom] Blackwell Publishing Journal News - July
> 2006 -Number15 ; shut down our archives? [ Scanned for viruses ]
> Importance: Low
> Dear Paul and Rod,
> Having been at an editorial board meeting of the central
> registering/indexing journal for prokaryotic nomenclature, the
> International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, I would
> like to point out that we are also faced with the same problems.
> As Rod has
> indicated everything costs money - your PC/Mac costs either you or your
> organisation money, as did the programmes it runs. Someone also pays for
> your access to the Internet. Let's put it this way publishers have
> traditionally contracted out to publish the work of the scientific
> community. There have, in recent years been two models, one is via page
> charges (the author pays and would discriminate against those with small
> budgets), whereas the other model is that subscriptions pay for
> the cost of
> publication. Online access of many of the society journals is changing the
> way we access published data. Institutions will, for example now cancel 3
> printed subscriptions (1 for the main library two for departmental
> libraries) and perhps only hold a single online subscription for the whole
> site - loss of revenue. In other cases scientists simply wait the 1 year
> for free access and do not have private subscriptions - loss of revenue.
> Authors who place their articles in their departmental online collections
> indirectly also undermine our type of journal which is scientific society
> based and withdraw income, causing financial problems when it comes to
> putting the results of research in a peer reviewed, properly formatted,
> impact factor rated format (and it is irrelevant whether it be "ink on
> paper" or "pixels on the screen").
> Inter library loan systems have traditionally provided copies of articles
> on a charge basis. The modern alternative is to go from photocopies to
> electronic files. You might not have ever seen the bill, but the finance
> section somewhere in your organisation will. The central libaries cost
> money too (the building, books and staff).
> The publishing industry is changing - think of all the monks who
> lost their
> jobs when the printing press was invented - as they say Paul "you
> don't get
> owt for nowt"...... ;-)
> At 20:49 11.07.06 +0100, Roderic Page wrote:
> >Dear Paul,
> >While I'd love everything to be free and open, I'm just wondering how
> >realistic this is, and whether we might still gain something from the
> >publishing industry's efforts. For example, Google Scholar provides a
> >very useful service by indexing full journal text. We can access the
> >index for free, but not (always) the content. It's still very useful.
> >If the digitization is of sufficient quality that useful information
> >can be extracted (and Blackwell seems to be doing this, their PDF's
> >are searchable and have XML metadata), then it may still be of use.
> >To give a more concrete example, Springer are making more of their
> >content available on line, and for some taxonomic groups such as ants
> >(my model group of choice at the moment) this is great (or at least,
> >better than nothing). Indeed, most hits for ants on iSpecies.org are
> >Springer journals.
> >I guess I'm trying to suggest that seeing publishers and other
> >digital providers as evil money grabbers might not always be the best
> >strategy. Some are innovative and are opening up their collections in
> >powerful ways (especially Ingenta - http://www.ingentaconnect.com/).
> >After all, Google exists because there is a market, not (simply)
> >because its founders have a noble goal. Like the music industry, I
> >guess publishers are struggling to find the appropriate business
> >model for the Internet age.
> >On 11 Jul 2006, at 18:02, Paul Kirk wrote:
> >> A bit naive perhaps Rod.
> >> The tools we develop and the resources we put together (etc, etc)
> >> are paid for (so there is a cost) but then the products are free to
> >> the end user on a non-commercial (whatever that menas) basis. The
> >> JSTOR/Blackwell/Elsevier etc model is that someone pays for the
> >> information/knowledge to be generated (national and international
> >> sources of funding - sensu lato), it's 'handed' to a publisher, who
> >> then charges for access ... on a business model developed in the
> >> 'ink on paper' era which doesn't work too well in the 'click and
> >> it's there' era. Most commercial digitizing is done on a 'never
> >> mind the quality feel the width' basis - nobody is going to pay
> >> directly for a bit of information generated two centuries ago on an
> >> obscure organism in a small journal but if it's part of a vast
> >> archive it may suck in users and generate some useful links from
> >> 'lateral' searching which can be charged for ...
> >> perhaps I'm being naive now ... ;-)
> >> Paul
> >> Mycologist (www.indexfungorum.org)
> >> ________________________________
> >> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Roderic Page
> >> Sent: Tue 11/07/2006 17:38
> >> To: 'TAXACOM'
> >> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Blackwell Publishing Journal News - July
> >> 2006 -Number 15 ; shut down our archives? [ Scanned for viruses ]
> >> I'm not totally sure why this is a bad thing. Everything costs money,
> >> the issue is who pays and how. Nothing is ever "free" (as in beer).
> >> Open Access s in no way free. Somebody, somewhere, always pays.
> >> If publishers feel there is value in digitizing old literature,
> >> surely we should encourage this. Instead of "us and them", what about
> >> pursing a strategy where the taxonomic community makes the case that
> >> it can add value to this material, not only through mark up but
> >> through increasing findability. I'd argue that if we can show that
> >> tools we develop will increase access to publisher's holdings, they'd
> >> see a reason for supporting our efforts.
> >> Nor do I see why this undermines BHL.
> >> Maybe I'm being dense or naive...
> >> Regards
> >> Rod
> >> On 11 Jul 2006, at 12:42, Donat Agosti wrote:
> >>> Please check out this release by Blackwell regarding open access.
> >>> As much as it is advantageous to have more and more digital
> >>> journals, the
> >>> more the divide between those having something and those having
> >>> nothing
> >>> widens, since hardly any of the content is free. Furhtermore,
> >>> having access
> >>> to 3,000 years of journals means, that in fact Blackwell opened for
> >>> themselves another stream of income, this time not claiming
> >>> copyright but
> >>> the effort spent to digitize the content. In fact, this has the
> >>> same effect
> >>> as copyright.
> >>> Since Blackwell asks individual societies for paying the costs of
> >>> scanning,
> >>> if they want to have their journals open access, one could argue at
> >>> the same
> >>> time, that Blackwell ought to pay each society a royalty if they
> >>> sell an
> >>> article. All the content has not been generated by Blackwell, and
> >>> thus this
> >>> is not a fair deal. It might be there is more language hidden in
> >>> contracts,
> >>> but this is not to be found in the release below.
> >>> I would also argue, that this development is undermining the
> >>> success of the
> >>> Biodiversity Heritage Library.
> >>> Finally, the advantage of open access is only on a very short time
> >>> access to
> >>> pdfs: the real impact will yield tools such as open text mining,
> >>> which are
> >>> prevented by Blackwell's behavior.
> >>> An additional comment regarding open access is on
> >>> http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/fosblog.html
> >>> Donat Agosti
> >>> ------------------
> >>> BLACKWELL PUBLISHING JOURNAL NEWS
> >>> July 2006 - Number 15
> >>> Bookmark the Journal News website:
> >>> http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journalnews
> >>> To download the entire July issue as a PDF for printing, click here
> >>> Editorial
> >>> The open access interest is now focused on mandated posting of
> >>> articles on
> >>> Institutional and Subject Repositories and we have reported
> >>> developments in
> >>> the United States and UK. The Online Open trial which now covers 98
> >>> journals is attracting around 8-10 articles a month.
> >>> The other main news this month is the launch of our Journal
> >>> Digitization
> >>> Program. The first 158 journals in the program represent 2.6
> >>> million pages
> >>> and almost 3000 years of content. We shall be reporting on the
> >>> expected
> >>> increased usage of these titles.
> >>> There are also descriptions of our new services for authors and
> >>> editors, and
> >>> the Blackwell Executive Seminars. We have run five of these
> >>> seminars, aimed
> >>> at journal editors and society executives, in the United States and
> >>> are now
> >>> extending the series to Europe. Spaces are still available for the
> >>> seminar
> >>> to be held in London in September.
> >>> Bob Campbell
> >>> President, Blackwell Publishing
> >>> Contents of this issue:
> >>> The UK Research Councils Break Ranks
> >>> Research Councils issue their own policies on OA.
> >>> Where Next for the NIH's Public Access Stance?
> >>> NIH debates recommending versus mandating.
> >>> Blackwell Launches 3000 Years of Digitized Journal Backfiles
> >>> 158 journal backfiles are now available and orders are already
> >>> coming in.
> >>> Funding and Bureaucracy, not Access to Journals, are Chief
> >>> Obstacles to
> >>> Scientific Productivity
> >>> New study finds that the culture of research funding is the main
> >>> block to
> >>> science.
> >>> Impact of Self-Archiving on Subscriptions
> >>> Institutional and subject repositories not yet replacing library
> >>> journal
> >>> collections.
> >>> Impact Factors 2005 Released
> >>> 2005 Impact Factors look good but must be interpreted with caution.
> >>> Annual Seminar of the Committee on Publication Ethics
> >>> Committee aims to provide practical advice to scientific editors.
> >>> New CME Accreditation for Medical Journals
> >>> Continuing Medical Education credits offered for a selection of
> >>> journals.
> >>> Extended Online Services for Authors and Editors
> >>> Online tracking of articles extended to journal editors.
> >>> Providing an Exemplary Publishing Experience for Authors
> >>> Overview of the services and surveys offered for authors.
> >>> Blackwell Executive and Editorial Seminars
> >>> Strategy seminars held in Europe for the first time this year.
> >>> Dr. Donat Agosti
> >>> Science Consultant
> >>> Research Associate, American Museum of Natural History and
> >>> Naturmuseum der
> >>> Burgergemeinde Bern
> >>> Email: agosti at amnh.org
> >>> Web: http://antbase.org
> >>> Blog: http://biodivcontext.blogspot.com/
> >>> Skype: agostileu
> >>> CV: http://antbase.org/agosticv_2003.html
> >>> Dalmaziquai 45
> >>> 3005 Bern
> >>> Switzerland
> >>> +41-31-351 7152
> >>> _______________________________________________
> >>> Taxacom mailing list
> >>> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >>> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
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