Memorandum from the Association of Learned
and Professional Society Publishers
1.1 ALPSP represents learned society and
other not-for-profit publishers in the UK and overseas.
1.2 Not-for-profit publishers own and publish
at least half of all peer-reviewed journals, while many more journals
are owned by learned societies, and published on their behalf
by commercial publishers; there is strong evidence that not-for-profit
journals are both more reasonably priced and more highly cited
than their commercial competitors.
1.3 There is much more to the publication
process than peer reviewpublishers also add value through
editing authors' text and maximising visibility through links
to and from articles; in addition they invest considerable sums
in the creation of new journals in response to market demand,
and in the systems which make possible speedy and high quality
1.4 Publishing costs money, and the costs
need to be recovered by one business model or another; publishers
also need to make profits, whether to support the activities of
learned societies and universities, or (in the case of commercial
publishers) to provide dividends to shareholders.
1.5 UK journal publishing, much of which
is exported, also contributes considerably to the wealth of UK
1.6 The acquisition budgets of libraries
in the UK and elsewhere have failed for many years to keep pace
with the constant growth in research output which finds its way
into journal articles, and publishers are therefore exploring
many alternative business models to address this problem.
1.7 The move to electronic publishing, though
it does not significantly reduce costs, does make possible a variety
of new approaches, including innovative approaches to licensing;
but it also brings with it certain problems, particularly the
effects of VAT and the difficulty and expense of permanent preservation
of electronically published content.
1.8 Open Access is one alternative model
which might help, but, as yet, there is little factual information
about its behavioural or financial effects; ALPSP is devoting
considerable resources to analysing what data is available.
1.9 ALPSP therefore makes the following
recommendations to the Committee:
1.9.1 Library acquisitions funding should
1.9.2 In the short term, non-commercial
educational and research establishments should be exempted from
paying VAT on electronic information; in the longer term, the
UK should lobby within Europe for lower VAT rates to be applied
to electronic information, as is already the case for print.
1.9.3 National licences should be investigated.
1.9.4 Collaboration between publishers,
particularly SMEs, should be encouraged in order both to "level
the playing field" and to improve efficiencies.
1.9.5 Open Access journals should be considered
in exactly the same way as other journals in the evaluation process.
1.9.6 Research Councils should be encouraged
to permit (but not to mandate) the use of a portion of research
grants for the payment of Open Access publication charges.
1.9.7 The collection and analysis of data
about Open Access publishing should be encouraged.
1.9.8 The British Library and other Legal
Deposit Libraries should be adequately funded to ensure the long-term
archiving and preservation of digital publications.
2. WHAT IS
2.1 The Association of Learned and Professional
Society Publishers (ALPSP) is the international trade association
for not-for-profit publishers. Total membership at the time of
writing is 277, in 28 different countries; 75% of these are based
in the UK. Members vary in sizewhile many are small, a
significant proportion publish large numbers of journals. Full
Members are not-for-profit publishers of all sizes and typespredominantly
learned societies and professional associations, but also university
presses, research organisations and inter-governmental organisations;
there are currently 182 Full Members, 132 of which are based in
the UK. Associate Membership is open to commercial organisations
providing services to the scholarly and professional information
chain, and Associate Members include a number of commercial publishers,
including some of the largest players. See current list of members
2.2 The Association is active on a number
2.2.1 Representation of and advocacy for
not-for-profit publishing in particular, and publishing in general;
major international research projects are regularly undertaken
in order to improve the knowledge base about our sector and its
customers; the Association also works actively with many other
bodies, includingin the UKthe British Library, JISC,
SCONUL and SPARC.
2.2.2 Development of publishers' skills
and knowledge through the industry's most extensive programme
of seminars, training courses and other events (see www.alpsp.org/events.htm
2.2.3 Dissemination of information and advice
through a quarterly journal, Learned Publishing (www.learned-publishing.org),
a monthly email newsletter, an online discussion list, and an
extensive website (www.alpsp.org).
2.2.4 Support for smaller publishers in
particular through collaborative initiatives such as the ALPSP
Learned Journals Collection (www.alpsp-collection.org).
3. HOW JOURNALS
3.1 The system whereby the work of researchers
is accredited through publication in peer-reviewed journals is
long-established; the first true learned journal, the Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society, started in 1665. ALPSP
has carried out two major international research studies,
which show that scholars continue to value publication in high-prestige
journals as the best way of advancing both their own careers,
and their own and their institutions' funding.
3.2 When a research project is completed,
the researcher writes a paper (or more than one) about it and
submits this to the learned journal of his or her choice; that
choice will be determined by (a) the journal's appropriateness
to the readership the author wishes to address and (b) the prestige
of the journal within its own field. The cost of the journal to
subscribers rarely enters into the author's decision (though this
disconnection could be addressed by the Open Access modelsee
below). A relatively objective measure of journal prestige is
the "Web of Science" citation index published by ISI
(part of Thomson), which indexes some 8,500 of the leading journals.
Citations (references at the end of papers) are analysed to calculate
the frequency with which papers in one journal are cited by other
journals. This produces the "Impact Factor", from which
in turn a ranking can be derived in each specific discipline;
the figures are not generally comparable across disciplines, since
authors in some disciplines tend to give many more references
than others, so a figure which would be high in one field may
not be so impressive in another. Authors are not, and do not seek
to be, paid for their research papers; publication is necessary
to them (authors of commissioned papers, however, such as reviews
summarising the existing literature on a topic, are generally
3.3 Once the paper has been received by
the journal's editorial office, two or more appropriate experts
are selected (sometimes by the journal editor, sometimes by the
publishing staff) and the paper is sent to them for "peer
review". The referees are asked to assess not only the quality
of the research study itself and the way it is reported, but also
its relevance to that particular journal's readership, its novelty
and interest; they may also provide detailed suggestions for improvement
of content, structure and even language. Their feedback will determine
whether the paper is accepted as it stands (this is very rare),
accepted after revisions, or rejected. The percentage of papers
accepted varies from journal to journal, but is often lower than
50%. Many publishers have now invested in software to enable the
processes of submission and peer review to be carried out online.
Referees are rarely if ever paid, other than by covering their
expenses; most journal boards feel that payment could risk tainting
the process. Journal editors, on the other handwho are
usually eminent practising or recently retired academic experts
in the subject of the journalare generally paid an honorarium
or royalty in addition to covering all their office expenses,
accommodation and support staff.
3.4 Accepted papers will then be passed
to editors employed by the publishereither in-house or,
very commonly, specialist freelance staff. They will ensure that
the language is clear and unambiguous, that standard style and
nomenclature is consistently followed, and that illustrative material
is of an appropriate standard (it will be redrawn if not); papers
by non-native speakers require particularly close attention. ALPSP's
own research shows that authors are very conscious and appreciative
of the value of the editorial function. These days, the publisher
will also wherever possible establish live links, in the electronic
version, from references to the actual material cited (which necessitates
checking and correcting references which have been imperfectly
cited by the author), as well as links to other material such
as data files; this is perceived by readers as one of the most
useful features of electronic journals.
3.5 Preparation of the content, up to the
point of publication, is generally carried out on computers. At
the point of publication, however, there is a bifurcation; one
set of suitably coded files will go to the printer, to produce
the paper version; the other will be specifically formatted for
the online version. Almost all Science, Technology and Medical
journals are now published in electronic as well as print form
(indeed, a few have no print equivalent), although this is far
from universal yet in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
The electronic version will usually be published either shortly
before or simultaneously with the print version; some electronic
journals publish each paper separately as soon as it is ready.
3.6 Although they are not paid a fee, in
the print world, authors are normally provided with a number of
free copies, or "offprints", of their paper; these they
send out in response to direct approaches from interested colleagues.
In the electronic world, publishers are experimenting with equivalent
arrangements, for example by supplying a secure electronic PDF
file of the article to the author, or by providing a fixed number
of free online accesses to that paper via a special internet address
(URL) which is given to the author.
3.7 It is worth bearing in mind that research
and its publication operate internationally. Large research projects
are frequently carried out by multinational teams; the community
of peers with which researchers communicate both informally and
formally is entirely international. Journals, too, are international;
both authors and subscribers tend to come from all over the world.
Typically, a UK research journal will sell some 60-75% (sometimes
considerably more) of subscriptions outside the UK, and is likely
to draw a similar proportion of its authors from outside the UK;
conversely, UK libraries almost without exception spend more on
journals published outside than within the UK.
4. THE ROLE
4.1 There is a great deal more to publishing
than the management of the peer review process; publishers add
value to the content provided by authors in a variety of ways:
4.1.1 Publishers create new journals, after
substantial market research; their initial investment is unlikely
to be repaid for five to seven years, and not every new journal
will succeed. New journals, created in response to market demand,
give authors more choice when selecting the most appropriate place
to publish, and can actually help to focus and foster the development
of new communities of researchers. Continuous development of existing
journals, and creation of new ones, is essential as scholarly
4.1.2 Some larger publishersboth
not-for-profit and commercialalso offer a contract publishing
service to smaller societies, taking over some or all of the processes
of publication after the editorial office has accepted papers
for publication, although typically the societies remain closely
involved with publication policy; this is one way of helping smaller
society publishers to compete more effectively. These contract
publishers pay back a substantial royalty or profit-share to the
society which owns the journal.
4.1.3 Publishers actively market both new
and established journals. New journals need to be drawn to the
attention of potential authors and readers, as well as librarians;
these days, no library can afford to subscribe to a new journal
unless an existing title is cancelled. Marketing is done by means
of mailings, email communications and attendance at scientific
conferences and exhibitions. Even more important, however, is
ensuring that journals are included in the key "abstracting
and indexing" databases which scholars use to identify at
least half of the papers which they read. Making sure that
functional links are in place to and from such databases, and
to and from other journals via citation linking, is a crucial
aspect of making a journal visible to its readers.
4.1.4 Publishers provide technical customer
support (often on a 24/7 basis) for electronic journals.
4.1.5 Publishers administer the peer review
process; larger publishers may employ subject specialists who
work with a sophisticated electronic database of referees, freeing
journal editors from the task of identifying appropriate, and
available, referees for each paper. They also generally cover
the referees' expenses.
4.1.6 Publishers develop and manage systems
to ensure rapid, high-quality publication, with particular emphasis
on maximising the speed of peer review. For the majority of publishers,
these systems are computer-based; they are necessarily expensive
to develop, staff and manage.
4.1.7 Publishers not only pay journal editors'
expenses, including office accommodation and office staff, but
also (in the UK at least) a royalty or honorarium as well.
4.1.8 Publishers both administer and pay
for all the post-acceptance editing and preparation for publication;
this may include the preparation of an annual index to the year's
issues of the journal.
4.1.9 Publishers commission, and pay for,
editorials, review articles and the like which complement the
primary research articles in the journal.
4.1.10 Publishers have invested substantially
in the creation of online publishing systems; these need continuous
maintenance and upgrading.
4.1.11 Many society and other publishers
are investing large sums in creating a complete digital archive
of their journal, from the very first issue (in some cases this
means going back for a century or more); while few may be in a
position absolutely to guarantee accessibility for future generations,
almost all are working closely with national libraries and other
organisations to ensure that the digital archive is preserved.
4.2 It is also perhaps worth pointing out
the importance of the UK journal publishing industry to "UK
plc". It is a very important source of both direct and freelance
employment, and of exportsof the estimated £1.5-2
billion turnover, 60-75% is exported.
5.1 There are some 21,000 current or forthcoming
peer-reviewed journals listed in "Ulrich's", the industry
directory. Of these, at least 9,250probably moreare
published by learned societies, professional associations or university
presses. In addition, a significant number of societies contract
out all or part of their publishing to larger publishers (themselves
either not-for-profit or commercial), which enables them to compete
more effectively with the largest players, through economies of
scale; however, they normally continue to direct the journal's
editorial policy, to appoint the editor and editorial board, and
to have significant influence over pricing and other aspects of
publishing policy. They receive either a share of the profits
or a royalty from the contract publisher. Numerous studies have
indicated that not-for-profit journals are typically significantly
more reasonably priced than those from commercial publishers
(they also tend to be more highly cited). Print runs may be larger,
as copies are typically supplied to all members (though usually
for a nominal, if any, charge). In general, societies and university
presses do not seek to maximise their surplus from publishingprofit
margins are typically much lower than those of the leading commercial
companies, and some have a policy of simply covering their costs
(while others, particularly smaller university presses, are in
fact subsidised by their parent institutions). Publishing is first
and foremost a means of furthering the objectives of the societyto
foster and disseminate knowledge of the particular subject. For
example, the mission of the Royal Society of Chemistry is "to
foster and encourage the growth and application of [chemical]
science by the dissemination of chemical knowledge" (see
http://www.rsc.org/members/aboutus2.htm#charter); that of
the British Ecological Society is "to advance and support
the science of ecology and publicise the outcome of research,
in order to advance knowledge, education and their application"
and that of the Society for Endocrinology is "the advancement
of public education in endocrinology" (see http://www.endocrinology.org/sfe/memart.pdf).
5.2 Those which do make a surplus, however,
are exempt from paying tax. This is because, rather than needing
to pay dividends to shareholders, they are bound by their charitable
status to plough all the money they make back into the activities
of the society: for example, conducting public education in their
subject, keeping membership rates low, subsidising conferences
and other meetings, funding research and offering scholarships
and travel bursaries.
5.3 Not-for-profit publishers are typically
small; many have just one journal. This makes it difficult to
compete with the largest players, who may publish hundreds or
even thousands of titles. The difficulty is exacerbated in the
electronic environment, where the largest publishers can offer
packages of large numbers of journals. Although librarians are
beginning to resist these "big deals" becausein
a situation of limited fundsthey restrict choice and tie
up funding for several years, they are still generally popular,
as they do provide libraries with a cost- and time-efficient method
of purchasing; usage statistics also show that the previously
unsubscribed material is surprisingly heavily used. Several organisations,
including ALPSP, have created multi-publisher packages to help
smalland particularly not-for-profitpublishers to
compete with the "big deals", and these are warmly supported
6. THE ECONOMICS
6.1 The processes of publishing all cost
money. There are the direct per-paper costs to do with peer review,
editing, preparation for publication, and online posting; surprisingly
few customers are yet willing to do without print, so there are
also costs of typesetting, paper, printing, binding, storage and
distribution. There are also indirect costs, not just of the journal
editor and editorial office, but also in-house staff, accommodation
and shared systems. Furthermore, every publisher, whether commercial
or not, needs to recover more than its costs, in order to provide
for reinvestment in the businessparticularly necessary
at a time of such rapid technological change. All commercial publishers
are naturally required to make a sufficient profit to satisfy
their shareholders. Not-for-profit publishers, toowith
very few exceptionslook to the proceeds of their publishing
operation to support the other services which they provide to
their community: these may include low membership subscriptions,
free or nominally priced journals, subsidised conference fees,
travel bursaries and research grants.
6.2 How much does it cost? Estimates differ;
a recent analysis by the Open Society Institute
put the cost at $3,750 per published paper, but this may be an
over-estimate. Other studies
suggest a more credible average figure of between $800 (excluding
overheads) and $1,545 (including overheads). The actual cost per
published paper varies with a number of factors. In particular,
the percentage of papers rejected significantly affects the cost
per published paper (as all papers received have to be processed
up to the stage of acceptance or rejection); while the average
rejection rate may be 35-50%, the top-ranking journals typically
reject a very much higher percentage of the papers submitted.
The total circulation of the journal also has a marked effect;
because of the degree of specialisation, the typical research
journal has a remarkably low circulationthe median figure
in 1995 was just 1,900,
and in many cases only a few hundred.
7.1 Although the legal ownership of a researcher's
work arguably lies with the employing institution, most universities
have implicitly or explicitly waived this right. Traditionally,
journal authors have transferred copyright in their papers to
the publisher of the journal (or to the society which owned the
journal, if the publisher was different); copyright transfer is
much less common for books, unless they have multiple authors.
Ownership of copyright simplifies matters for the publisher, enabling
it to deal most straightforwardly with cases of copyright infringement
as well as with the granting of permissions or licences for re-use.
However, it is not absolutely necessary (as the books situation
demonstrates). In recent years, publishers have become much more
aware of the rights which authors and their universities wish
to retain: in particular, the right to post their own work online,
and the right to re-use it for educational purposes within the
institution, and in the authors' own subsequent publications and
presentations. This can be achieved in one of two ways: if the
author transfers copyright to the publisher, those rights can
be explicitly granted back; if the author retains copyright, limited
rights can be granted to the publisher (in the form of a licence).
The key realisation has been that who actually owns copyright
is not the point; it is the ownership of specific rights within
the copyright "bundle" that is significant. ALPSP has
been instrumental in introducing a model form of words for both
which is now widely used or adapted by many publishers.
8. THE "LIBRARY
8.1 For some years now, librarians have
been unable to subscribe to all the journals that their patrons
might wish to access. The most important contributory factor is
the steady increase in research output ever since the Second World
War; more research (and more researchers) produces more papers,
which find publication either in existing journals (which therefore
become larger) or in new ones. But library acquisitions budgets
have not kept paceindeed, they have often fallen in real
terms. Thus libraries have been forced to cancel their least important
subscriptions, and to rely on other meanssuch as the system
of "inter-library loan"to supply papers from
journals not held in the library. This disconnection could, of
course, be corrected by the Open Access model (see below) to the
extent that publication costs became a normal part of research
8.2 Journal prices have certainly increased
more steeply than the general rate of inflation;
it is not, however, the case that publishers have all been pushing
up journal prices as steeply as they can. One factor seldom taken
into account is the increase in the number of articles and thus
the number of pagesthe price per article has not risen
anything like as steeply. In addition, the steady decline in subscription
numbers inevitably reduces profitability, unless prices are increased.
However, many publishers, and particularly not-for-profit publishers,
do their best to minimise price increasesthey are well
aware that an unreasonably steep rise will lead to a fall in subscriptions,
thus leading to a "vicious spiral".
9.1 Both publishers and librarians welcomed
the advent of electronic publishing, hoping that it would make
possible significant cost savings. Both have to some extent been
disappointed. The costs of electronic publishing are higher than
anticipated; not only do electronic publishing systems require
a high level of continuous investment, but additional costs of
customer support and the negotiation of licences were unexpectedly
high. And customers have been reluctant to give up their print
copiesunderstandably, given the uncertainties about long-term
preservation and the punitive effects of VAT on electronic publications;
thus publishers have yet to see the savings in paper, printing,
binding, warehousing and delivery costs which might be realised
by dropping print entirely.
9.2 Publishers have, however, made the most
of the potential of electronic publishing to explore ways of offering
customers better value for money. They have developed creative
licensing models, permitting access to all their publications
("bundling") and/or access for all those in a group
of universities ("consortial licensing"), for little
additional expenditure; they have also supported the creation
of schemes to provide free or inexpensive access for users in
less developed countries.
Manyparticularly learned societieshave invested
in digitising the entire back-archive of their journals, thus
providing a readily accessible historic archive sometimes going
back hundreds of years. Publishers have also worked closely with
librarians to develop licences for electronic journals, which
permit the subscribing institutions to use the licensed content
much more freely than was possible with print.
10. OPEN ACCESS
10.1 "Open Access", at its most
fundamental, simply means free, unrestricted access for everyone
to online research information. The term is commonly used in two
distinct ways. The first, sometimes known as "self-archiving",
refers to authors making their own papers freely available online;
this may be done on a personal or departmental website, in a subject-based
repository (notably the long-established ArXiv
in high-energy physics and related disciplines), ormore
recentlyin an institutional repository.
Papers may be deposited as "preprints"that is
to say, in a pre-publication formor as "postprints"the
final version which has undergone all the processes of peer review
and editing and is identical to the published version. Perhaps
surprisingly, publishers have in general responded positively
to authors' wish to deposit their work in one or both forms; half
or more of publishers
explicitly permit this in their agreements with authors (although
it appears that far fewer authors actually take advantage of this
right). The development of "Open Archives" standards
makes it increasingly possible to find and retrieve papers which
have been deposited in this distributed manner; to date, however,
journal subscriptions and licences do not appear to have been
affectedthe steady rate of decline has not acceleratedalthough
some publishers fear that it could ultimately damage sales.
10.2 The second sense of "Open Access"
refers to traditional peer-reviewed journals which are made freely
available online, rather than limiting access to those who are
covered by a subscription or licence. Clearly, the costs of publication
still need to be recovered in some way, and the most usual method
is to make a charge for publication. Currently, charges seem to
range between $500 and $1,500, although it is often suggested
that for such a model to be viable, the charges would really need
to be higherparticularly since not all authors are likely
to be able to pay, particularly if they come from a less developed
part of the world (it is assumed that, as with the existing system
of "page charges" which is used to reduce subscription
prices by a number of (mainly US) journals, charges would automatically
be waived in such circumstances). Some open access journals are
supported, totally or in part, by grants; some derive a certain
amount of income from other sources, such as advertising. Some
publishers are offering a hybrid model, where only those articles
whose authors have paid the charge are made freely available;
the remainder are only accessible to subscribers.
10.3 To date there are 5-600 Open Access
ALPSP has recently announced a research project to analyse the
data which is emerging from many of these experiments, in order
to establish whether, and if so in what circumstances, the "Open
Access" model can be viable. Publishers have already taken
many steps to widen access, such as new licensing agreements,
provision of free or very inexpensive access for developing countries,
or free access to online back issues after a relatively short
period. However, a number of publishers are interested in going
further; Learned Societies take a particular interest in the Open
Access model, since maximum dissemination of information about
their discipline is precisely what they are about (see the "Mission
Statements" quoted earlier).
10.4 The financial feasibility of Open Access
may well vary between disciplines; in some areas, particularly
in the sciences, research is expensive, research grants are accordingly
large, and a few thousand pounds to publish a couple of articles
may make little difference to the total sum funded. In other areas,
however, such as the humanities, research is relatively inexpensive
and grants are therefore small or even non-existent. In addition,
some articles are based not on funded research but on experience
in clinical practice; and others, such as review articles, are
actually commissioned (and frequently paid for) by publishers.
Costs also vary between journals; a high quality journal, as mentioned
above, may reject a high percentage of the papers submitted, but
the costs up to the point of acceptance or rejection are the same
in either case. A fee charged per published article would therefore
need to be considerably higher for such journals (although alternative
approaches, such as charging a submission fee, could of course
be considered). The data analysis which ALPSP will be conducting
this year will, it is hoped, shed considerably more light on both
economic and other aspects.
10.5 A number of the existing Open Access
journals are run on a volunteer basis by individual academics.
While this may appear to make it possible for the journals to
be free both to authors and to readers, this is perhaps misleading;
the academics' time is being paid for with their university salaries,
as are their support costs and overheads. This is unlikely to
be an approach which could be scaled up to include a significant
proportion of existing journals without placing an unreasonable
financial burden on the "parent" universities; and it
is debatable, too, whether this is the best use of academics'
10.6 There are various "definitions"
of Open Access, some of which include additional elements such
as the retention of copyright by the author (or even the abandonment
of copyright by placing the work in the public domain), deposit
of the work in a publicly accessible database, and the ability
of others to re-use and re-sell the work without permission or
payment. In our view, however, these are "optional extras"
and the core of Open Access is simply, as stated above, free and
unrestricted access for everyone to research information.
10.7 However, there is in fact little evidence
that the majority of journal authors are in any way dissatisfied
with the present system. Numerous studies have been carried out
which suggest that the vast majority of those who contribute articles
to learned journals are broadly happy with the way things work
(their concerns are mainly to do with such matters as fairness
of peer review and speed of publication); indeed, in many fields
there is little or no awareness of, let alone demand for, alternative
models. It is also notable that, although more than 50% of publishers
permit authors to self-archive their own articles in either preprint
or published form, an extremely small proportion of authors are
actually doing so.
Thus, while there are some very vocal enthusiasts for self-archiving,
Open Access journals and so forth, they would appear to represent
a very small minority of the academic community.
11.1 What impact do publishers' current
policies on pricing and provision of scientific journals, particularly
"big deal schemes", have on libraries and the teaching
and research communities they serve?
11.1.1 Publishers are all too well aware
of the growing divergence between the amount of research seeking
publication and the money available to buy it. They know, too,
that their customers' budgets are unlikely even to rise by the
rate of inflation. Most publishersparticularly not-for-profit
publisherstherefore try not to increase their journal prices
more than is necessary to stay in business (although different
publishers have different expectations of the profitability that
"staying in business" requires). It is, however, almost
impossible to restrict price rises to the rate of general inflation,
because of the increase in the number of papers, and the steady
decrease in the number of subscriptions. The cost savings (up
to 20-25%) which might be realised by the abandonment of print
would be welcomed by publishers, but the current VAT situation
means that most of the saving is negated; full-rate VAT is charged
on information, although the lower rate is applicable to print
(in the UK, print is zero-rated).
11.1.2 Publishers have attempted to create
new ways of licensing which enable libraries' budgets to go further,
given that access can be provided for more people at minimal extra
cost to the publisher. However, working out how to price licences
for electronic journals is difficultone licence can take
the place of multiple subscriptions, particularly if a group of
universities is involved; various methods are being explored to
reflect the different sizes and types of institutions. Consortial
licensingselling a journal, or more usually a collection
of journals, to a group of university or other libraries, possibly
even on a regional or national basishas provided access
for many more people to many more journals; acting in consortia,
libraries have for the first time significant bargaining power
in negotiating prices and conditions with publishers. "Big
Deals"selling a collection of journals, or possibly
all of a publisher's output, for little more than was previously
spent to subscribe to just a few of themalso significantly
increase access. The result of the widespread uptake of such licences
has been that library users now have access to significantly more
journals than in the past. However, libraries do perceive two
problems with "Big Deals": they are obliged to buy (albeit
for a nominal extra payment) journals which they would not otherwise
have selected; and they are often tied into a multi-year agreement
with a non-cancellation clause.
11.1.3 Publishers and libraries are therefore
beginning to explore different pricing and charging models, moving
away both from print-based pricing (which is clearly not sustainable
for long in the electronic environment) and from "Big Deals".
The development of international standards for usage statistics
makes it possible to envisage a usage-based component in future
pricing. In the UK, the PALS
collaboration between ALPSP, JISC and the Publishers Association
recently commissioned a study of new pricing models for information,
and is currently evaluating their potential for experimentation.
11.1.4 Under both existing and new pricing
models, national licences merit further consideration. These are
arrangements where a licence is negotiated and paid for at national
level, giving country-wide access to all universities, all educational
institutions, all public libraries or even the entire population;
cost per user, and cost per use, is thus minimised. Such licences
could make it possible for a single cost- and time-effective negotiation
to secure access to one or more publishers' content for all researchers
in the UK. This is already happening in some other countries (eg
Iceland, Greece, Korea), and publishers were disappointed that
the UK Pilot Site Licence Initiative (which was centrally fundedin
effect, a national licence) was replaced by the National Electronic
Site Licence Initiative (which was not, as each participating
university can opt in or out, and pays its own share).
11.2 What action should Government, academic
institutions and publishers be taking to promote a competitive
market in scientific publications?
11.2.1 In one sense there is no competition
in the journal market, as was observed by the OFT report.
One journal, let alone one paper, cannot be substituted for another;
in reality, journals compete for authorsprimarily, on grounds
of prestige. In the current economic climate, however, publishers
are undoubtedly competing for libraries' limited funds. The prevalence
of consortial licences and "Big Deals" tends to favour
the largest publishers, for understandable reasons; if it takes
just as long to negotiate a licence for one journal or for a hundred,
the library will choose the latterwith the result there
may be no negotiating time, or money, left for the smallest publishers.
Although no player actually has a majority share of the market,
each of the three largest players (Elsevier, the newly merged
Springer/Kluwer, and Taylor & Francis) has more than a thousand
journals, whereas few learned societies have more than 20, and
the lists of the majority of publishers are in single figures.
In addition, the largest players would appear to command a greater
share of libraries' funds than sheer journal numbers would indicate.
This was the main reason why ALPSP recently set up its ALPSP Learned
we realised that libraries were tying up more and more of their
available budgets with the largest publishers and found it quite
impractical to deal with many very small publishers, much as they
wished to continue to take their journals.
11.2.2 The most positive steps that can
be taken are therefore those which "level the playing field"
between different sized publishers; encouragement of the various
collaborative ventures which already exist between small-to-medium
sized publishers might be one way of doing this.
11.3 What are the consequences of increasing
numbers of open-access journals, for example for the operation
of the Research Assessment Exercise and other selection processes?
Should the Government support such a trend and, if so, how?
11.3.1 There is no reason why Open Access
journals should not be considered equally with subscription/licence
journals for the RAE and other such exercises; the key measurecitationis
unaffected. Open Access journals do not necessarily abandon any
of the traditional processes of peer review and editingthe
only difference is that, instead of being "free-to-publish"
they are "free-to-access"; in some cases, indeed, they
are the same journals which have converted to an alternative cost-recovery
model. It has been suggested that citations might in fact be higher
for a journal which was freely available to all, although statistics
are not yet available to demonstrate whether this is in fact the
case. Certainly it is desirable that assessment and evaluation
exercises should consider papers published in all peer-reviewed
journals, regardless of medium or business model, provided only
that they are of high quality.
11.3.2 There are different ways of supporting
the development of Open Access journals. Some funding agencies
have committed extra support for publication in Open Access journals
of the results of research they have funded; others have made
no additional funding, but have explicitly permitted this use
of existing research funds. Clearly the Open Access model cannot
ever become widely adopted unless authors have access to the necessary
funds to cover publication charges; indeed, in some disciplines
(for example, those where research budgets are typically low or
non-existent) this may never be the case; thus, encouraging research
councils and other funders to permit the use of their grants for
publication charges may be helpful. Mandating the use of Open
Access journals in general, or even specific titles, however,
is less likely to succeed; we are not convinced that authors will
be persuaded to publish in those journals if they are not their
journals of choice.
11.3.3 JISC has recently announced the provision
of funding for a small number of Open Access journals to cover
the publication costs of UK authors. However, funding for authors
from the UK would not necessarily benefit libraries and readers
in the UKtheir work will appear in the most appropriate
journals, which may be published, and which will be read, anywhere
in the world. As mentioned above, research and its publication
operates internationally; thus any steps taken on a purely UK
basis will have only a partial effect.
11.3.4 If the number (and quality) of Open
Access journals does increase, there will clearly be less pressure
on library acquisition budgets, but more pressure on research
funds or other sources of support for publication charges. The
overall cost to the system could potentially be reduced if the
effect on publishers were to oblige them not only to make savings
(if necessary reducing quality in the process) in order to make
their charges affordable, but also to reduce their profit margins
(although this would have a negative effect on the other activities
of learned societies). This would not necessarily be the case,
howeverconceivably the publishers of the highest quality
journals would actually be able to increase their profits through
charging high publication fees; there is simply not enough hard
information yet about the economic effects either on individual
players, or on the system as a whole. The cost to the system would
not, of course, be stabilised; it would continue to grow pari
passu with research output, although there would seem to be a
better chance of publication funding keeping pace, if it is seen
as a necessary part of research funding, than has been the case
with library budgets. A hybrid environment seems quite possible
in the longer term, with Open Access becoming a (or even the)
dominant model in certain disciplines, but not in others. However,
the key will be authors' behaviour; only if they perceive that
their objectives in publishing will be better served by Open Access
journals, are they likely to try to find the funds to cover publication
11.3.5 At this juncture, ALPSP would not
recommend that Government should take any direct action either
to encourage or to discourage the growth of Open Access journals;
publication in such journals should be evaluated by exactly the
same criteria as publication in traditional subscription/licence
journals. However, it would certainly be helpful to encourage
UK research councils to permit (but not to mandate) the use of
grants to cover publication costs. The most constructive action
of all might be to support research into the economic and other
aspects of Open Access journals, in order that publishers and
academics alike can make future decisions on a basis of factual
11.4 How effectively are the Legal Deposit
Libraries making available non-print scientific publications to
the research community, and what steps should they be taking in
11.4.1 Non-print scientific publications
are not yet subject to the requirement of legal deposit. The recently
passed enabling legislation will, however, now make it possible
for regulations to be passed relating to specific publication
media, and electronic journals are likely to be one of the first
media so regulated. Publishers have worked with the legal deposit
libraries for some years, prior to the legislation, on a voluntary
scheme of deposit for hand-held media, and are about to embark
on a similar pre-legislation project for electronic journals.
It is not, however, the intention of the legislation that access
to the deposited works should undermine publishers' normal sales;
access will be restricted to terminals in the reading rooms of
11.4.2 However, the Legal Deposit Libraries
are in many cases already subscribing to electronic journals;
publishers have worked closely with the British Library in particular
to ensure that appropriate licence terms are available which permit
the library to provide much wider access for users than would
be possible under Legal Deposit, although unlimited remote use
(which would make it possible for a single licence to substitute
for sales to every user in the country) is naturally not permitted.
11.4.3 Legal Deposit (and other) libraries
are entitled to supply "Fair Dealing" copies of individual
journal articles and book chapters for research and private study
under the "Library Privilege" regulations (although
they undertake not to use Legal Deposit copies for this purpose);
copies which do not fall under the non-commercial rubric of "Fair
Dealing" (as defined under the 2003 copyright regulations)
may be supplied under licence, with the payment of a copyright
fee to the publisher. Electronic delivery of such copies has been
the subject of much discussion and collaborative work with publishers,
and the British Library has recently launched a secure means of
electronic delivery with which publishers have declared themselves
satisfied. Thus every UK researcher can speedily obtain, at the
desktop, any article or chapter which they should require.
11.4.4 Publishers' greatest concern is that
the Legal Deposit Librariesin particular, the British Libraryshould
be adequately funded to permit storage, access provision and long-term
preservation of the deposited material. With that assurance, we
believe that publishers would readily licence the libraries to
do more with the deposited material than the legislation allows,
such as providing more users with access to the deposited material,
in return for appropriate payment. In addition, many publishers
see the Libraries as the best "archive of last resort"
if they become unable (for technical or commercial reasons) to
continue to provide access to the material which they have published;
the Dutch Royal Library is beginning to perform this function
for a few publishers.
11.5 What impact will trends in academic
journal publishing have on the risks of scientific fraud and malpractice?
11.5.1 The system of peer review, though
not perfect, has proved fairly robust in detecting unsound research
results; most Open Access journals maintain the same processes
of peer review as their predecessors. While there are occasional
proposals to reform Peer Review, none has received enthusiastic
support from the academic community. Whether a journal is "free-to-access"
or "free-to-publish" does not in itself affect the risks
of fraud and malpractice. Indeed, the Internet permits more rigorous
checking for textual plagiarism.
11.5.2 However, when unreviewed "preprints"
are posted on the Internet, these controls are not in place; and
if a preprint does turn out to be false, or indeed actionable,
it is by no means clear who bears the legal liability.
11.5.3 The extreme ease with which students
and less experienced researchers can access information via Internet
search engines such as Google predisposes them preferentially
to use freely available content, which may or may not have been
subjected to the quality control functions of peer review; while
this does not amount to deliberate fraud or malpractice, it nevertheless
risks lowering standards. It is therefore becoming increasingly
important to find ways of identifying, and directing these users
to, peer reviewed information.
12.1 Publishers are experimenting with a
number of alternative business models, of which Open Access is
one. Open Access does have a certain appeal (particularly for
learned society publishers); however, much more needs to be learned
about the circumstances in which it is or is not a viable alternative
to subscription/licence journals. It would undoubtedly be premature
to advocate Open Accessor any other alternative modelas
a solution to the "Library Crisis".
12.2 There are, however, a number of specific
actions which might help to ease the current situation:
12.2.1 Library acquisitions funding should
be significantly increased as a percentage of university spending.
12.2.2 The problem of VAT on electronic
publications should be addressed; the UK should lobby within Europe
for the extension of derogations to electronic information, on
the same grounds that they already apply to print; in the meantime,
UK universities and other non-commercial educational and research
establishments should be exempted from VAT on information.
12.2.3 National licences should be investigated.
12.2.4 Efforts to "level the playing
field" between different sized publishers should be encouragedfor
example, collaborative projects between small-to-medium not-for-profit
and commercial publishers.
12.2.5 Other collaborative projects between
publishers of all sizes and types, with the aim of increasing
dissemination and maximising efficiency, should also be encouraged.
12.2.6 Open Access journals should be considered
in exactly the same way as other journals in the evaluation process.
12.2.7 Research Councils should be encouraged
to permit (but not to mandate) the use of a portion of research
grants for the payment of Open Access publication charges.
12.2.8 The collection and analysis of data
about Open Access publishing should be encouraged.
12.2.9 The British Library and other Legal
Deposit Libraries should be adequately funded to ensure that they
can provide an appropriate long-term archive for non-print materials
as these become liable to deposit under Legal Deposit regulations.
12.3 Representatives of the Association
would be very happy to attend in person to give oral evidence
to the Committee, if so required.
13. LIST OF
13.1 General background.
1. Background document on ALPSP.
2. "What's so Special about Not-for-Profit
Publishers" (editorial), S Morris, Learned Publishing,
Vol 14 No 3 (July 2001).
3. ALPSP Principles of Scholarship-Friendly
Journal Publishing Practice (final draftto be formally
launched in March).
4. Journal Publishingbriefing document
for Government departments, prepared at the request of the DTI.
5. Electronic Publishing and Learned Societiesdocument
prepared at the request of the Research Support Libraries Group.
6. ALPSP position statement on Open Access.
9 "What Authors Want", Key Perspectives
Ltd, ALPSP, 1999 and "Authors and Electronic Publishing",
Key Perspectives Ltd, ALPSP, 2002. Back
eg Barschall, H H and Arrington, J R, "Cost of Physics
Journals: A Survey", Bulletin of the American Physical
Society, July, 1988. [http://barschall.stanford.edu/articles/baps8807.pdf];
Bergstrom, Theodore C "Free Labor for Costly Journals?
", Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2001). [http://www.econ.ucsb.edu/~tedb/Journals/jeprevised.pdf]. Back
"Guide to Business Planning for Converting a Subscription-based
Journal to Open Access", Open Society Institute, 2003
"The Costs of Learned Journal and Book Publishing",
A Dryburgh, ALPSP, 2002; "Towards Electronic Journals",
C Tenopir and D King, Special Libraries Association, 2000; "The
Peer Review Process", F Rowland, Learned Publishing Vol
15 No 4 (October 2002). Back
"Towards Electronic Journals", C Tenopir and
D King, Special Libraries Association, 2000. Back
"Journal Publishing", G Page, R Campbell and
J Meadows, Cambridge University Press, 1997. Back
See the ALPSP Guidelines at http://www.alpsp.org/htp-grantli.htm. Back
See, for example, "Monograph and Serial Costs
in ARL Libraries 1986-2002", Association of Research
Libraries [http://www.arl.org/stats/arlstat/graphs/2002/2002t2.html]. Back
See http://www.alpsp.org/htp-dev.htm. Back
See www.arxiv.org. Back
There is a list of such repositories at http://www.alpsp.org/htp-openarc.htm. Back
See "Scholarly Publishing Practice",
J Cox & L Cox, ALPSP, 2003 and "Publisher Copyright Policies
and Self-Archiving, Project RoMEO. [http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ls/disresearch/romeo/]. Back
See "Metadata Harvesting and the Open Archives
Initiative", C Lynch, ARL Bimonthly Report 217, August
2001 [http://www.arl.org/newsltr/217/mhp.html]. Back
See http://www.alpsp.org/htp-openacc.htm. Back
"What Authors Want", Key Perspectives Ltd, ALPSP
1999 and "Authors and Electronic Publishing",
Key Perspectives Ltd, ALPSP 2001; also large-scale international
surveys currently being conducted by City University on behalf
of the Publishers Association, and by Key Perspectives Ltd on
behalf of JISC, both to be published later in 2003. Back
"Institutional Repositories", Mark Ware Consulting,
PALS 2003 (to be published later this year). Back
See http://www.projectcounter.org/. This had its origins
as a PALS initiative. Back
See http://www.palsgroup.org.uk. Back
"The Market for Scientific, Technical and Medical Journals",
Office of Fair Trading, 2002 [http://www.oft.gov.uk/nr/rdonlyres/efvqwtvbz6bqcpm5vcfexjlnbl7ltb5anbnu7kuri5bhmfwx34kjdjni4qgpivcokrjdmugt4l6ic4kbokoji6a7xgg/oft396.pdf]. Back
See www.alpsp-collection.org for more information. Back