UNESCO, Paris, 19-23 February 1996

Session 6: Economics and organisation of primary scientific publication.

Dr. David J Pullinger, Nature, Macmillan Publishers, UK.

Table of Contents


Electronic communication offers a transformation of scientific communication as dramatic as the introduction of the postal system ( Reference ) There have always been problems of different types in journal publishing as a system for scientific communication, including financial, availability, speed of publication and validation of research. Various solutions to these have been tried in print including summary journals and document delivery, but electronic communication offers the potential for better solutions than these for scientists.

The journal of the future will not be the same as today; there may have to be a completely new paradigm for communication in science. For the purpose of this chapter, I shall assume that enough of the current paradigm is continued so that we can discuss the organisation and economics of primary science publishing, both of which will also change.

Economics depends on the way that science publishing is organised, the costs of so doing and the pricing set. With reduced library budgets, dropping circulation levels and consequent increased journal pricing, pricing has received much attention. It is different from the issues of the costs of journal publishing. I shall therefore give some background of the developing organisation of journals publishing, review some aspects of costs and of pricing and then comment on some of the ‘slogans of the decade’ which propose solutions and commitments.


Despite the 300 year history of journals, the publishing system as we know it is post-WW2. Until the 1950s the majority of journals were subsidised in some form (Reference ). This subsidy worked in a variety of ways: for example in the expectation that scientists would pay for all the journals they needed as part of their work, in authors’ supporting through page charges, in learned societies and commercial publishers’ believing it was the right thing to support financially from money raised by other means (the publisher Macmillan subsidised Nature for 35 years before it came into profit) and in advertising. Many journals are still effectively subsidised by publishers as part of a portfolio of titles in which the success of a few supports all of them. In this act, many publishers feel that they are a long way from being ‘hard-nosed’ commercial businesses.

In the Post-WW2 years revenue support for most journals has moved from individual subscribers to university, government and industrial research library purchase. An average 80% of the number of subscriptions comes from these sources.

The consequent organisation of journals publishing developed to one including a variety of publisher (university press, learned society and commercial), library (university, government and industrial research) and national deposit (direct government-funded or indirect through universities). The introduction of library subscription agents (or ‘vendors’), current awareness, abstracting and indexing services has contributed to the still-growing complexity of scientific communications.

All those players increasingly use electronic communication to run their part of the system. The development of electronic document delivery (docdel), or individual article supply (IAS), electronic versions of journals and electronic-only journals offers continuing change.

Many current developments rely heavily upon the use of networked infrastructure using the Internet protocol and create the possibility of retrying some of the early experiments into electronic publishing that encompassed pre-print servers (then called poster papers), on-line discussion attached to every article, annotated abstracts and research community newsletters (Reference ) The asynchronicity and non-localisation of network applications means that informal communication previously transmitted 1-1 or at conferences and meetings can now be integrated with the formal part of scientific communication should that be desired.

That development presents an array of services across which libraries distribute their purchasing power to meet the information needs of their customer-scientists. This happens both directly in money transfer from journal purchase to current awareness services, tables of contents services and docdel services, and indirectly through the use of staff time (the majority of the expenditure in libraries on average) on search assistance, interlibrary loans (ILL) and on training on Usenet discussion groups, pre-print servers and Internet journals.

Publishing is part of science.

Journals are characterised in different ways. The major ways can be described as communication, archiving and social.

The aims of the journal from the angle of communication are fourfold: to encourage research, to aid the flow of information, to establish priority as quickly as possible and to report separate parts of a research programme (Reference ). Two essential components are the reader’s ability to know the reliability of what they are reading, by knowing that the research has been filtered, and the quality of presentation including mathematics, chemistry, and images etc.

The archiving aspect is one where journals’ publication is seen as keeping the record of scientific endeavour and therefore building a collective knowledge base. The product itself forms the raw material for archive.

Journal publishing has a social role, both in providing the information and in distributing rewards. The former gives readers information about the direction in which a discipline is headed and what the key researchers in the field are doing (particularly important for chemists (Reference ). In this sense, tables of contents are not just ‘information about’ but are information used by researchers. The distribution of rewards concerns the ‘cycle of credibility’: the prestige, recognition, positions gained and grants that ensue by publishing activities (Reference ).

There is also a wider social role in that published discoveries are communicated to the public via science writers in newspapers, television programs etc., which in turn brings recognition to science and supports it’s continued funding.

Quality of content

Publishers add value to the paper submitted by the author in each of these three areas. The work of validating the quality of the work is shared between referees, giving of their time, and the selective and administrative functions editors, editorial boards and administration departments. Most publishers support the editors of journals either financially or in kind and run the administration of editorial boards. The publishers of leading journals frequently employ expert staff to select appropriate referees, this is often a system set up by researchers in learned societies in order to release their time to do research.

The refereeing process is interactive and leads not only to decisions about whether or not to publish but also how to improve the work and the presentation. Nature, for example, insists on all directly relevant work being cited - an insistence which not all researchers like, especially where funding decisions are important. This, however, leads to a specific dependability. There will be continued need for some independent arbitration.

(It should be noted that the use of publication for performance assessment increases the administrative load as scientists submit increasing numbers of papers to high impact journals in the hope of getting a higher assessment value.)

Presentation: the user interface

The second area where publishers add value is in presentation, sub-editing, design and appearance. Papers are sub-edited to ensure that they are accurate in their internal referencing, that they comply with accepted standards and nomenclatures and that the language is usable and understandable (particular helpful for those for whom English is not their first language). There is also additional work in preparing images for display, particularly ensuring legends are readable. Publishers, with their editorial boards, also worry about design - does it enable the reader to rapidly identify and use the information they require? Design varies for different scientific disciplines because they have different access requirements and because of personal preference (Reference ). Finally the appearance is important to enable the text to be easy to read and the images interpretable. Some journals have a high reputation for half-tone images, for example, required in some sub- disciplines for successful communication.

These tasks in which publishers add quality will be needed as much, if not more, in the electronic world. Ensuring consistency and quality of content, re-design for access and the usability of the interface will be key areas in helping researchers. Very little progress has been made in the area of electronic facilities to support browsing and reading; the majority of successful uses are in electronic delivery for print (Reference ). I believe that the tasks of ensuring quality of content and presentation will continue and that the expertise found in publishing houses will be required in the future.

Access and distribution

Another way in which publishers have added value is in obtaining global access and distribution and getting as much coverage for their material as possible, via advertising, marketing, donation of free copies of journals to abstracting and indexing services and going to conferences. I used the past tense, because changing players means that publishers are already re-organising themselves in this area. They have traditionally not needed to market journals, but now most STM publishers have marketing staff and strategies to ensure that purchasers are aware of their products and able to make decisions appropriate to their customers. The donation of free copies to intermediate services was considered advertising, before the practice of redistribution of money flow changed that perception and practice. A more radical change might be anticipated if papers were to be put up on filestores on Internet. Leading journals offer a service to the authors by writing press releases and encouraging the further communication of science.

Re-organisation is already in progress

Those different purposes are being met in different and changing ways. The economics of journal publishing alters if the functions change or they are separated. In this sense, the price of the journal previously covered knowledge of the availability of information (via the tables of content etc.), the information itself (the papers), formed part of the social functioning of science and were the raw material from which to construct the archives in the libraries. Changes in how these purposes are provided to the scientific community are having immediate implications for the perceived value of journals themselves. The communication aspects are altering by the use of current awareness and alerting services, the archiving because electronic files are being kept by publishers and customers only license them and the social by the use of networks by scientists to stay in touch with what is happening.

The journal of the future

Every medium develops its own discourse practice, in length, style and frequency. For example, scientific papers have developed a particular style that has been refined by practice and explicit standardisation to the advantage of scientists seeking information. This style includes having a record of what was done, how, with what result and its significance relative to other work, which should be cited.

The particular paradigm of the journal containing papers and appearing in issues will change in the electronic arena. We do not know what it will change to, but there are certain aspects which should be kept (Reference ):

1. A title, by which it can be referred and its principally containing original research.

2. A system of peer review.

3. Dates so that precedence can be established (received and accepted).

4. An archive of accepted content (even if later amended).

5. If there is a print/CD record and an electronic version, then a statement of the relationship.

Papers will change

Change in length

There are three reasons why one might expect papers to get shorter in electronic communication:

1. The speed of publication affects the length; one might expect that the use of a faster medium would shorten the length of papers, much as we see in Letters sections.

2. The utilitarian measures used to assess performance of researchers leads to an increasing pressure to publish papers, which are sometimes shorter than they would otherwise have been.

3. There may be less need to fully present the background, when other papers can be readily hypertext linked and what their authors say can be seen in full context, rather than in summarised form.

The result of these might well be an increasing number of shorter papers published. The logical conclusion from a ‘record of scientific endeavour’ approach might be a fully searchable electronic laboratory world notebook! That, however, would not match my requirement of the reader’s easily knowing whether the content can be relied on or not.

Some believe that the lack of limit on page size will encourage papers to get longer, and there is evidence for this in the possibility of electronic supplementary material offered by some journals (Reference ).

Exploiting the new opportunities of the electronic medium in the journal paper.

There are many opportunities in the electronic medium to make communication more effective. These include integrating multimedia material and deposit of supporting data. The former would otherwise be communicated through separate channels (Reference ), incorporating animation and sound and using computer power for data visualisation (e.g. 3-D molecule rotation). The latter facilitates linking references to text, links to databanks and bi-directional communication. In some areas a paper is no longer accepted unless there is deposit of supporting information into a databank, e.g. in genetics research (Reference ) There are some particularly interesting enhancements in using computer-based systems; for example if there is a link from a reference to the paper cited, then the computer can calculate all the papers which cite the one the reader is looking at. This allows the scientist to follow through research results much more easily than at present.

Scientists concern themselves with who publishes a journal to the extent that they can satisfy themselves of the reliability and quality of the information. Primarily they want to be able to access all the relevant research in their research domain quickly and easily. ‘Individualised’ journals are possible in the electronic arena, by setting a use profile which can automatically be altered using relevance feedback and other new tools. This can reduce the information overload felt with the demand to keep up-to- date.

Changing science environment

In looking at the organisation of scientific publishing, one cannot ignore the scientific environment in which it operates. The limits of library budgets are not vendettas against one way of organising the system as much as a reflection of the current priorities of governments. At the end of the millennium, rich-world governments are not placing science at as high a priority as they did following the rapid developments during WW2 and before the loss of belief that science would solve many problems which they now recognise require difficult political choices. The consequences are reduced funding, moves towards creating fewer larger centres of expertise to cut down on overhead costs, and funding moved from basic towards the more applicable areas of research. These might be expected to change the requirements of scientific communication. In the less rich two-thirds world, many scientists having trained in centres of expertise, are researching without supportive infrastructures. This too may contribute to changes in the way that science is done and communicated.

Why we can expect change: summary

From the above descriptions, we might expect change for at least the following reasons:

It is in this changing context of players and stakeholders and of the development of the journal that we consider the possible organisation of scientific publishing.

Possible direction for journals publishing

The advantages of the electronic media for scientific communication will outweigh the difficulties of changing the system, practically and politically. There is, however, no ‘natural’ continuation of the organisation or economics of journal publishing. There are a number of directions which it might take, which are key to what happens in the future. I briefly describe each in turn.

How information is stored and accessed:

There are two main scenarios which I see: scientific communication is divided and replicated among many different services, each serving one particular function and developed and maintained by different players; and, second, scientific communication is stored once-off with any services currently supplied by fewer players.

The first scenario is a continuation and extension of what is happening now, with replication of many parts of what is published and with libraries and individuals distributing their resources across those many services: abstract and index, current awareness, table of contents searching, citation linking, docdel, electronic versions, preprint servers, etc. The existing economics cannot be maintained in this scenario because of the distribution of revenue through a system only sustainable with fewer players. Nor can a individual article model be sustained without that cost covering all the rejected papers, as well as the ones published.

The second scenario says that many of the newer services are redundant in an all-electronic publishing scenario - that current awareness, citation linking, searching etc. could be organised by distributed search software onto full-text multimedia databases stored just once (whoever the publisher might be) and so reduce the costs of the total system.

Both scenarios seek to provide added functionality while also reducing the information overload and providing quicker and more effective access to the information.

Who owns the content?

At present the intellectual property always resides with the author, but in the published form the publishers ask for the rights to make copies and to trade by means of the copyright laws; this trade is then protected by the same legal approach. This system has faults, for example changing a few words alters the copyright, but not the intellectual property, and the item loses its protection. Under current legislation, were publishers not to request transfer of copyright or an exclusive license, they could not make copies for distribution, nor provide content to other services and would not invest in so doing. The author exchanges copyright for quality control, marketing, distribution and, in some cases, fame.

What is being ‘traded’?

First, we have to answer the question of ‘Will there be trading?’ The only circumstance in which there will not be, is if all the services developed, current awareness, cataloguing, table of contents searching etc. are offered free to all users anywhere in the world. I do not see this as a likely scenario, even if it were desirable; some entrepreneur will always offer a service which scientists or librarians will find useful and worth paying for.

The directions above could result in very different economic systems. In particular what is being traded varies from ‘services’ through to purchase of or rights to use ‘documents’ or even parts of documents, for example for permission to use figures, multi-media and quotes.

In the former multi-player model one might expect an approach more centred on licences and associated with particular rights, for example to print, to use for teaching, to exploit in current awareness services, to add hypertext links etc. This would move journal publishing business models much closer to the world of books and television in the way that they trade in rights.

In the second case the business model might maintain more of the current model, including many pay- per-use sections as well as subscriptions for regularly accessed content and licences.

Which is likely to happen? There is evidence both ways. New players are beginning to offer value- added services (e.g. in citation-linking, ‘complete’ coverage of disciplines etc.) and intermediaries are seeking to integrate some of the functions previously done by others (e.g. delivery of original text on behalf of publishers). On the other hand, existing publishers (particularly learned societies) are themselves integrating services, while some larger commercial publishers are investing in software companies and intermediaries with the apparent intention of moving towards the second scenario.

Charging, billing and paying

In both scenarios the process of charging, billing and paying, in other words the information on the amount to be paid and transferring money, will benefit from being simplified and perhaps done automatically (Reference ), whether for end-use or for subsequent re-use in some service. This would be possible in an electronic world, and perhaps obviate the need for subscription agents (‘vendors’). Indeed one of the problems in the current exchange of information is handling large numbers of small transactions, the change from which is one of the reasons for the simplicity of the subscription and licence models, in addition to the advantage they offer to budgeting. The development of such tools, or their lack, might facilitate or inhibit some economic models.

Faced with such change, predictions are not easy, which is why I personally continue to advocate collaborative work to ensure that the needs of scientists are not lost in the changes taking place in the means to deliver what they require for science.

Note: Diversity in publishing and national norms.

In considering almost any aspect of publishing including economics, we need to take into account the wide diversity in publishing and library practice and types of journal. For example, some university presses are subsidised by their institution, others make money which they can put into investment. Learned societies either keep all their ‘surplus over costs’ or have to hand it all to their sponsoring society, thus sometimes making long-term major investment more difficult; commercial publishers pay taxes on their profits. University libraries in the UK can sell access to information, but this is an anathema in the USA where such libraries are considered to be public. All science publishing is international, and such national norms sometimes need explicit consideration to check that we are not making implicit assumptions about the-way-things-are.


Costs can be considered from the generators’ or consumers’ point of view, or any player within the economics of the system, including whole nations. In each there are investment and running costs in order to use journal content, whether print or electronic, in addition to the costs of the purchase of the content and support for its use.

Different methods are used to examine costs depending on the reason for the enquiry (Reference ). If it is cost control, then a study would look at components of the system which consume the most resources and the method used would be cost per function; whereas if the focus was on cost for each institution, then ‘cost per participant’ measure would be more appropriate. Among other measures is cost by item; what is the unit cost of the end-product? In many comparisons of cost between print and electronic, different measures are falsely compared.

Fixed costs vs. marginal costs

Looking from the point of view of the publisher, one measure towards the front of their minds is the comparison between the fixed cost, roughly covering the preparation of the material, and marginal costs, roughly covering printing and distribution. This will result in a ratio of 80:20 for most print journals with any degree of complicated science, . With an average decline in sales of 6% per annum, the fixed costs stay the same and so the price to the purchaser is raised. Even if origination was excluded, assuming that the scientist produces nearly perfect text and images in electronic form, a reduction by 90% of printed copies reduces the cost only by 30% (Reference 4 ).

Will there be a reduction in cost by the use of electronic preparation? Some costs are saved by the use of author-generated text files, others saved by the use of electronic communication, at least while it remains relatively cheap for the end-user (in this case the publisher’s administration). Experience of putting scientific papers into SGML from non-SGML imposes an extra costs of 20-30%, but the cost to the publisher might alter when authors do this themselves using new tools. Academics have widely varying responses and abilities in attending to the extra work entailed; some want to do this, others do not. Other fixed costs include running an editorial office, the administrative costs of editorial processing, the sub-editing etc. as well as marketing. While some have thought that the existing economics of journal publishing for publishers can be maintained in some form by moving the costs and cutting on other costs (Reference ) , the range and extent of potential change considered above makes this unlikely.

Authors and readers costs

The reason why we should look at different cost measures is that the impact of moving the cost along the chain affects different participants in different ways (as we all know from being subjected to national government policy!).

At the author’s end, to prepare papers is already time-consuming, particularly when different journals have different requirements. For scientists to provide perfect electronic copy will require new tools to help them in ensuring consistent structuring, internal referencing and use of standard nomenclature; moreover they will need to pay for the sub-editing currently done by others if they want to be read (particularly affecting non-English authors).

One proposal is that authors not only pay the direct costs for all the preparation of their own papers, but that they also pay to cover the storage and distribution costs (Reference ).

At the reader’s end, to access and use electronic journals requires computers of sufficient specification, appropriate software, communications and access to network infrastructure. Each of these costs money, though the burden falls in different places depending on country and sector. For scientists in the developing world, the costs of up-to-date equipment and infrastructure required to present good graphical displays are often prohibitive.

The marginal costs of electronic versions of papers and simple electronic journals (as currently extant) appear to be cheaper if the cost of computers, software, telecommunications, network infrastructure and government funding is excluded. Clearly one of the most undesirable things to occur would be a time or byte charge for use of networks - scientists want to spend lots of time with material of interest and publishers want readers to spend time on their material rather than on others’ as it is then more likely to be cited.


Pricing is quite separate from costs (as we know from the price of diamonds, oil or the use of the road system), although from a publishers’ viewpoint they have generally been tied to a formula whereby they cover their costs, allow for predicted decline (if any), make allowances for currency fluctuation and add a profit margin (if this is policy and can be sustained by the performance of the title).

Pricing for journal content has been by subscription per title and also recently by paying a copyright fee appropriate to the circumstances of taking images of pages. While the main market for journals has been libraries post-WW2, those individual scientists who want journals have most commonly had them priced to cover the marginal costs. Many publishers have also helped organise pass-it-ons or differential prices for scientists unable to pay for journals in Eastern Europe and the non-rich world (Reference ).

In the electronic arena, there are many more possible models for pricing. In addition to subscriptions of single titles, there are subscription to a corpus of information (by one publisher (Reference ) or consortium), pay-per-use for viewing, printing or searching, or use of sophisticated software only occasionally used, colour printing etc.; and licences granted per site, sector or nation (Reference ). One model is to type these as follows (Reference ).

By intended audience: e.g. single user, multiple user, single institution, multiple institution

By type of access: e.g. on-line timeshare, locally loaded databases, CD-ROM databases

By type of information e.g. citations, full-text, data.

Any additions the reader of this chapter might make begin to emphasise the potential complexity (Reference ).

Will pricing change? The costs to libraries include the issues of pricing set by publishers in purchase or access, as well as staff, buildings, shelving, computing, cataloguing, storing and searching for access, and any replacement and binding costs, etc. Such a question is clearly of interest in the case of limited budgets, as well as strategies for reducing costs by, for example, buying less (using an ‘access’ rather than ‘holding’ policy), by storing less (by buying and ‘holding’ only current issues and throwing it away and relying on ‘access’ for older journals(Reference ), by storing holdings off-site in cheaper premises, and by enabling researchers to do their own computer searches. Research libraries already pay more for information from one journal, because they pay both for subscriptions, increasing in price, and for other services that give information about the content of those subscriptions in order to offer added value to their customers. With limited budgets this would be unsustainable were it not for all the other changes and opportunities.

The most critical element in pricing, however, is the organisation of scientific journal publishing and it is to that we return with some considerations of some ‘slogans of the decade’.

‘Academics are simply dying to see electronic journals introduced - if only those slow publishers wouldn’t hold them up.’

There are two hypotheses here, the first that academics are keen to see electronic journals and the second that publishers are delaying their introduction. The evidence is mixed for the former. In the Red Sage project at University of California and the CORE project, usage was not as high as expected (Reference ). There could be a number or combination of different explanations:

there is not enough material to make it worth scientists changing their research habits

the interface still does not provide scientists with the kind of browsing required

researching and reading on-screen constrains scientists to one place

the printer does not print the mathematics and figures in a usable enough form

up-grading equipment to use in scientists’ offices would cost too much.

The apparent slowness of publishers could be seen as proper caution mixed with fear and confusion about what exactly to do (Reference ). Given the increase of cost in the short-term to put everything into SGML, to invest in access to the network infrastructure, to train staff and so develop electronic publishing, is there sufficient justification for doing so without strong evidence that that is what is wanted? Or in other words, is there enough evidence to justify an increase in price of journal subscriptions and enough support from the scientific community to pay for that investment in the transition? And who will stand up and say exactly what that implementation should be? I would suggest that a collaborative approach involving government-funding is the right approach here (Reference ).

‘We can adopt Paul Ginsparg’s model for all of scientific publishing.’

A number of different factors combined to make the high energy physics experimental community so successful in their use of the preprint server:

We do not know how many similar factors need to be present in order to give the same level of use. Other sub-disciplines using the same technical system are much more divided in their use, some using it prolifically, others not at all, with variable quality being given as one reason.

‘Academics can do scientific publishing by themselves.’

Academics have frequently begun publishing journals themselves - indeed this is the source of some major journals - later handed over to a learned society or commercial publisher (including the Proceedings of the Royal Society). But can the entirety of the science publishing system being taken into the academic sector? The issues gives rise to questions such as whether it would be cheaper to do so, whether there is the will to invest in the infrastructure and resources required, whether academics would be more altruistic, and how the non-academic government and industrial research centres would participate.

At present I see no great evidence for a substantial diminution of work associated with journal publishing over the next decade as it gradually moves electronic. That work has either to be done by existing staff or by new staff taken on. Few academic institutions have chosen to take the initiative in print publishing, so what indicates that they would like to do so? Some research results indicate that scientists are not at present as unhappy as would be required for them to do so (Reference ). The altruism of academics is as mixed as the commercialism of other groups. If one examines learned societies, run by researchers who are largely academics, then there is no evidence of great difference between them and the policies of commercial publishers. Indeed one might question some learned society journal pricing policies and what is done with the ‘surplus- over-cost’. Local or national funding might also inhibit some of the actions taken to ensure global access to scientists, particularly in the less-rich world. Whether or not differential charging between academic institutions and industrial research centres would be introduced when the latter are also contributing scientific research, would also have to be tackled. It is not immediately obvious which way the overall equation would work out.

‘ “Fair use” should be maintained in the electronic arena.’

Fair use was introduced to enable students and researchers to take away copies of a work from libraries for close personal study, provided it does not adversely affect the economic basis upon which the information is provided (Sections 107-8 US Copyright Law). Such a provision would seem to be redundant in many of the pricing possibilities in the electronic future . Any site, sector or national license should give the reader access under that license and rights to use the information and the provision would not be required. On the other hand if the whole of the financial model was based on a pay-per-use access model, rather than library holdings, then the only research use would be individual and so necessitates the ending of the ‘fair use’ provision. The only model for it’s retention would be where a ‘library’ purchases the journal content for itself and the researcher needs to extricate it in some way for personal study.

Concluding remarks

The future is uncertain, but reorganisation towards it has been continuous. Scientists can benefit from many of the opportunities in computer-based communication and identification of relevant scientific research. Costs are being moved around the system and many can fall on individual scientists when they have not done so for over 50 years.

The changes arouse strong emotions as economic systems change and individual institutions suffer. What we can expect is a period of tumult. I have tried to show that some of the more simplistic approaches to costs and to pricing are likely to fail in an increasingly complex world of science publishing. I have also taken some of the slogans of the decade and examined the case in the context of the economics of science publishing.

If I were forced to take a stand on the most likely outcome, I would predict that the majority of science journals will go electronic when the technology supports them to do so, the top science journals will be published both in print and electronically. Publishers will be contributing their expertise in quality, through sub-editing, presentation and administration of peer review, whether in their current organisations or not. There will be an increasing separation in the way in which the functions of a journal are provided: the communication of research, the archiving and the social/community aspects. There will be a more extensive layering of access via searching, reference linking and titles selection, with new techniques developed to do browsing. The economic models will settle down to a mixture of site or sector license, subscriptions and pay-per-use, possibly not exclusive to each other.

The most productive approach is one where scientists collaborate in government-funded projects to explore the future and in which they can say what it is that they want from the many opportunities. I do not believe that the system that has been dominant for the last 50 years will remain so, but neither is it easy to say what will replace it.

The future is, however, changing slightly more slowly but much more dramatically than we usually expect. Who could have anticipated the entire system with its many players and surprising degrees of standardisation that has developed in journals publishing - all to serve the cause of scientists and so science?


I wish to thank Christine Baldwin, Jack Meadows and Christine Crosbie for their comments on the first draft of this paper.

Additional Bibliography

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See for example the exploratory work done in Pullinger D J et al 1995 STAMPEDE Project Report IE750 to European Commission DGXIII on Billing Charging and Paying for STM Journal Information on Internet.

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The British Medical Association has an explicit brief to help in this way.

For example, Academic Press’ national site licence in the UK, 1995

Hunter K has pointed out that this might cause problems in 1992 ‘The National Site License Model’ Serials Review 18(1/2), 71-72.

Fayen E G ‘Pricing Models for Electronic Information’ Paper presented at STM Meeting London November 1992.

IFRRO’s recent questionnaire to publishers being the most complete I have seen.

Lines M B 1992 The publication and availability of Scientific and Technical papers: and analysis of requirements and the suitability of different means of meeting them. Journal of Documentation 48, 201-219 [to be checked]

see for example Olsen op cit.

Singleton A 1994 ‘Charging for Information in Electronic Products’ Paper presented at the 10th International Learned Journals Seminar April 1994.

As indeed the UK has in its eLib (Electronic Libraries) programme and US National Science Foundation has in its Digital Libraries Projects.

Schauder D 1994 Electronic Publishing of Professional Articles: Attitudes of Academics and Implication for the Scholarly Communication Industry. Journal of the American Society for Information Science 45(2), 73-100

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