Supplementary evidence from the Institute
1. When do you expect the New Journal of
Physics (NJP) to break even?
According to the current business plan the journal
will meet its direct costs in the year 2008 provided three key
assumptions are met:
the number of published articles
increases by 150%, from the present level (2003) of 161 to 400
the percentage of authors paying
the publication fee increases from the present 60% to 95%;
the publication charge increases
from the present £350 to £600 per article.
It should be noted that the term "direct
costs", as we use it here, does not cover the whole cost
of publishing the journal as it excludes any contribution to the
overhead costs of IOP Publishing Ltd.
Covering costs in the year is a very different
challenge from that of starting to deliver a return on the investment.
The latter will take much longer. The total invested directly
in NJP by the Institute of Physics and the German Physical Society
in the years 1998-2007 will be some £600,000, or more than
£800,000 including allocated overheads. Repayment of this
investment is estimated to take a further 5-10 years.
In summary: the plan shows NJP reaching breakeven
on its annual costs 10 years from launch, with repayment of the
initial investment after 15 to 20 years. Both of these are projections
that have yet to be achieved. Typically a new science journal
would be expected to break even after five years and repay its
investment within seven years.
NJP has recently been awarded a grant of £38,000
for one year by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC),
with the possibility of three further years of funding. The grant
is on condition that UK authors pay no article charge, so the
overall financial effect is hard to predict.
2. To what amount do you expect to increase
your publishing charge for New Journal of Physics?
See above, in stages from the current level
of £350 to £600 per article by 2008.
3. Can you supply figures on the proportion
of IOP's costs that is taken up by the digitisation of its back
catalogue and the development of new technologies?
Digitisation of back catalogue
The costs for this project, of £500,000,
were given by Sally Morris of ALPSP in her supplementary responses.
The number of pages involved is actually greater than the figure
quoted by ALPSP because there were two distinct parts to the project.
The 800,000 pages published in IOP journals
between 1874 and 1990 were scanned to produce searchable PDF files.
All abstracts and references were rekeyed in XML mark-up language.
A further 280,000 pages published between 1991 and 1995 were already
in electronic form but required re-scanning to a higher standard.
The total number of pages in the archive digitisation project
was therefore 1,080,000, at an average cost of 46 pence per page.
The journal production process for current articles (since 1995)
incorporates the costs and activities necessary to produce them
in electronic form and add them to the archive.
Development of new technologies
Current expenditure on all technology-related
costs represents about 11% of the cost base of IOP Publishing.
This includes the provision and support of our existing electronic
publishing technologies as well as the development of new technologies.
We support the summary closing statement provided
by Sally Morris of the ALPSP.
Based on our experience of publishing one of
the early "Open Access" journals we offer the following
observations on the sustainability of the open access model.
When it was launched in 1998, NJP was an entirely
new, experimental modellong before the term "Open
Access" was coined. We are enthusiastic about all our experiments,
especially when they are well-regarded. The results to date from
the NJP experiment, quoted above and included in our written evidence,
are as follows:
a business casenot yet demonstratedwith
at best 10 years to breakeven in the year and approaching 20 years
to return on investmentdouble the typical timescales for
an output, after six years, of 161
articles, with 60% of authors payingcompared to a total
of more than 10,000 articles in our subscription journals;
readership levels for NJP no higher
than those for the electronic forms of our subscription journals.
In 1997 the International School for Advanced
Study (SISSA) in Italy launched the Journal of High Energy Physics
(JHEP), free online, without author charges and subsidised by
grants from six funding bodies. JHEP was successful editorially
but costs rapidly outstripped funds. SISSA approached IOP for
assistance and since 2002 SISSA and IOP have published JHEP in
partnership as a subscription-based journal. As a subscription
journal more than 1,000 academic institutions have access to JHEP,
the editorial success has been maintained and the journal now
has the financial stability on which to develop and grow.
The results from these two journals indicate
to us that this type of open access model is not sustainable for
physics journals in the current environment. However the internet
and electronic publishing have delivered huge benefits to science
and scientists in terms of ease of access to information. Future
developments in software and tools will bring further improvements.
We believe that it is important to continue to experiment with
innovative approaches to electronic publishing.