[Taxacom] Journal of Hymenoptera Research

Schindel, David schindeld at si.edu
Mon Feb 4 11:14:21 CST 2013

After reading a few responses to Donat's message I contacted colleagues at Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) about the issues being discussed.  Here is the feedback I received which I hope is helpful.



Given the partial thread, it's difficult to know the full scope of the discussion. That said, based on the part you've forwarded, the discussion appears to be conflating two issues: 1) the cost of online-only distribution versus traditional print distribution and 2) the cost and mission benefit of open-access distribution versus subscription distribution. 

Online-only distribution would lower costs (typically by ~20 - 25% depending on the type of journal), while shifting to open-access distribution would require a new funding model. Discontinuing print, by itself, would eliminate variable costs, but the society's fixed editorial costs would remain. Whether the society is willing/able to cover those costs with a cross-subsidy (or some other supply-side model) will typically depend on financial and cultural issues specific to the society.

Assuming that the article processing fees charged by the Journal of Hymenoptera Research have been designed correctly, the journal should be able to remain sustainable even as it increases the volume of articles published. The article fees of the journal are low (~EUR 150), and it's impossible to tell from the outside the extent to which the article-fee revenue is supplemented by revenue from sales of convenience print subscriptions and/or subsidies from the society. In any event, the society seems satisfied with the model.

More generally, SPARC sponsors a variety of resources for publishers designed to help publishers evaluate and transition to funding models capable of supporting open access dissemination. These are available at: (http://www.arl.org/sparc/publisher/).


-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Dean Pentcheff
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2013 6:13 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Journal of Hymenoptera Research

On Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 2:21 PM, Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu> wrote:

> ...
why would
> the Society collapse if the journal suddenly cost vastly less to 
> produce (e.g., if they went to online publishing with no print 
> version)?

That's a key question here. Does it cost (the society) less to publish in an online open access journal than in the classical commercial publishing model? I don't know (and neither does Donat :). Scientists like me who are not intimately involved in the publishing process tend to think that publishing an online Open Source journal should be very cheap. The experience of some recent large-scale Open Source journals argues otherwise — there's been a surprisingly big sticker shock at the final costs of publishing. We need better information, particularly for small-scale operations (e.g. not PLoS ONE).

> ...

any publication of any society that is NOT being made
> available electronically is doing LESS to promote the exposure and 
> impact of an author's research than would otherwise be the case, and 
> the argument could therefore be made that publishing in 
> limited-distribution specialist journals is *bad* for one's 
> professional development, regardless of how well-targeted the audience 
> may be.

Score! Tilt! Jackpot! YesYesYes. I cannot agree more thoroughly. It has always seemed utterly paradoxical to me that a society dedicated to promulgating the study of a subject would deliberately choose to keep its scientific efforts as inaccessible as possible by keeping them behind paywalls. The paradox is semi-resolved if we assume that, in many cases, the people making the society decisions aren't really aware of the modern full spectrum of publishing options.

> ...

in times like these,
> would it not be helpful if professional societies DID use their funds 
> to actively support taxonomists, rather than simply giving them a 
> comfortable place to publish?

Absolutely. Science is people working, not published results.

> Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Dean Pentcheff
pentcheff at gmail.com
dpentche at nhm.org

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