SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES

A NEWSLETTER FOR THE UIUC COMMUNITY

Issue No. 15

March 27, 2002


Paula Kaufman, University Librarian

Editor

 

THE FUTURE OF THE ARTICLE ECONOMY

The editors of LJ recently sponsored a conversation among librarians and aggregators of article databases (e.g., Lexis-Nexis; ProQuest), moderated by Yale University’s Ann Okerson. Undergirding the discussion was recognition that access to services such as Amazon.com and search engines such as Google have raised library users expectations of speedy access to information resources, expectations that are not easily met. Here are some highlights of the conversation:

Participants agreed that using aggregator databases as a way to save funds is a "totally shortsighted management approach." Aggregators view their databases as a service, rather than a collection. Titles change within the aggregated lot and libraries merely rent access to aggregated titles rather than own them. Okerson noted that many libraries seem to think this strategy is fine, as long as there are libraries like Yale’s and Illinois’ to be their national and international support and backup. This puts untenable pressures on those libraries.

Consortial purchasing of aggregated databases is creating a large homogenization of these databases. Participants in the discussion also agreed that consorial buying has dramatically improved the quality of those databases, too, and is raising the bar for library services. Okerson worries that 25 years from now, when large proportions of library budgets are devoted to electronic, not analog, resources, library collections will look very much alike; the depth of their print and special collections will distinguish them.

What did the group predict for the future? Interlinking systems, in which patrons will be able to go to one place within the library, do a search and branch out. Many more e-journals. An "article economy." Improved subject thesauri. Much larger back files, probably not for general magazines where the rights of articles is an issue, but for scholarly journals. Read the entire article at http://libraryjournal.reviewsnews.com/index.asp?layout=article&articleid=CA199791

ARE SOME OF THOSE PREDICTIONS ALREADY HAPPENING? UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO CANCELS ELSEVIER PRINT JOURNALS.

Effective Jan. 1 of this year, the University of Colorado’s four campuses no longer receive the print versions of the 600-800 titles of the Elsevier journals to which they subscribe. UC has become the first research university in the country to rely instead entirely on an electronic format for storing Elsevier publications.

"That's part of what makes this significant," said Deborah Fink, CU's public information librarian, "that we're willing to cancel print titles in favor of online."

Elsevier signed a three-year contract with the university under which students, faculty and staff at all four campuses will have access to those journals via the Internet. Financial arrangements have not been disclosed. http://www.coloradodaily.com/archives/index.inn?loc=detail&doc=/2002/March/15-441-news05.txt

DIGICULT STUDY AVAILABLE

The DigiCULT study, Technological Landscapes for Tomorrow’s Cultural Economy was conducted by Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH for the European Commission DG Information Society. The theme of the study is "Empowering Cultural Heritage Institutions to Unlock the Value of their Collections." The Executive Summary to the report is available online in English, French, German, and Italian, and in both HTML and PDF formats. The full report will be available soon in PDF format. "The DigiCULT Study gives recommendations for decision makers of European archives, libraries, museums and policy makers at European, national and regional levels.

For further information, please see <http://www.salzburgresearch.at/fbi/digicult/

THE TRANSITION FROM PAPER: WHERE ARE WE GOING AND HOW WILL WE GET THERE?

"The world of communication is going through a transition unlike any that humans have ever experienced, with far-reaching consequences possibly greater than any prior advance since the invention of written language. Now communications are faster, cheaper, and potentially more accessible than we could have imagined even just a decade ago. Information of traditional and very nontraditional kinds is available, in principle, for anyone with a link to the internet. The scientific community has been at the vanguard in developing and using the new modes and in experiencing the consequences, both positive and negative, of the transition. We are still in the early stages of that transition, trying to feel our way ahead. The project that produced this set of essays has been an attempt to anticipate changes and to feel our way ahead in the process." The entire study is available at http://www.amacad.org/publications/trans.htm

SPARC COLLABORATION WITH JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE

SUPPORTS RESEARCHER-DRIVEN PUBLISHING

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) recently announced its partnership with the Journal of Vegetation Science (JVS). JVS, founded in 1989, is the official organ of the International Association for Vegetation Science and is published by Opulus Press, a researcher-founded independent publisher based in Sweden. It competes with the commercially published Plant Ecology (formerly Vegetatio).

The editorial board of Vegetatio resigned en masse in 1989, dissatisfied with the high price of the commercial journal. JVS, the new journal owned by the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS), was launched in 1990. Most of the former Vegetatio editors joined the Board of JVS. JVS, which is indexed in Current Contents and the Science Citation Index, has surpassed Plant Ecology in ISI's citation indexes. JVS's 2000 impact factor is 1.589, and in ISI's subject category for plant sciences JVS ranked 29th of 137 journals in 2000, when sorted by impact factor. Plant Ecology, the competitor from which most of the editorial board resigned in 1989 to join JVS, has a 2000 impact factor of 0.822. It ranked 68th of 137 journals in 2000, when sorted by impact factor. JVS costs $350/year. Plant Ecology annual price is $2384 (add 20% for both the print and online versions combined).

PUBLISHING ON DEMAND TO CHALLENGE PAPERBOOKS?

"Like the music industry before it, book publishing is on the verge of a sea change, even if it happens more quietly than when the music giants faced Napster, not to mention artists fighting to become their own publishers and online distributors."

A long article in the Guardian Unlimited predicts that over the next five years both paperback publishing and e-books will be eclipsed by print on demand (POD). UK publisher The House of Stratus recognizes that intellectual property rights are the real stock in trade of book publishers. Its CEO David Lane notes, "80% of publishers’ advances are not earned back. Meanwhile, there are tens of thousands of books out of print, because publishers don’t market ‘backlist’ titles." Lane predicts that in three years 25% of all publishing will be done digitally, with books distributed worldwide with a click, then printed and bound locally, or within bookshops themselves. He says that Barnes & Noble in New York is already planning such a facility, noting "Inventory and warehousing costs will fall to nothing. It’ll be a retailer’s paradise." Well, maybe. The Guardian article notes that POD will fail if it remains an in-store gimmick or an Internet venture without the benefits of real-world marketing and distribution. "But once publishers and booksellers have taken the first step to capitalizing on their digital assets, the publishing industry can truly become an open book." Read more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4373603,00.html

HarperCollins DESTROYS COPIES OF LIBELOUS BOOK
If you happen to own a copy of Trading With the Enemy: Seduction and Betrayal on Jim Cramer's Wall Street by Nicholas W. Maier, keep in mind that there are three pages in there that the book's publisher, HarperCollins, has conceded contain false information. Threatened with a libel lawsuit, HarperCollins is destroying about 4,000 copies of the book and will be reissuing new copies without the three pages in question. Maier wrote that Jim Cramer, a former hedge fund manager, traded on inside information about the Western Digital Corporation, according to a report in The New York Times. Since HarperCollins had already shipped 10,000 copies of the book last month, the publisher is issuing a statement to bookstores and reviewers that says: "Cramer & Company did not conduct any trading activity in Western Digital Corporation in reliance on inside information. The Securities and Exchange Commission never investigated any of Cramer & Company's trading activities in securities of Western Digital Corporation." Book 3/18/02 (Barnes & Noble)

 


How Are We Doing?

Scholarly Communication Issues welcomes your input. Please let us know what’s missing from our coverage. And let us hear your comments about the issues themselves. Does our current system of scholarly communication need to be changed? If so, how should the academic community go about changing it? Send your comments to Paula Kaufman at ptk@uiuc.edu.