Re: Should Publishers Offer Free-Access Services?

From: Professor L.W. Hurtado <hurtadol_at_DIV.ED.AC.UK>
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 16:27:39 +000

Prof. Walker asks me:

> L. W. Hurtado ( Do scholars in the humanities buy
> reprints of their articles? Would many pay as much for infinite e-reprints
> as for 100 paper reprints? Could societies in the humanities use extra
> profits from e-reprint sales to publish larger paper issues and hence reduce
> publishing queues?

Humanities journals characteristically give free of charge a limited number of off-
prints of published articles to the authors (nowadays about 15-30 copies). So, I
think that they would probably expect any "electronic off-prints" to be given
freely too. Again, this is likely in large part because (a) only a small slice of
humanities research receives any grant-funding (e.g., in Canada where I worked
for 20 yrs, NSERC funds about 70% of university researchers in the sciences;
but the sister granting body for the humanities and social sciences, SSHRC, is
able to offer funds to about 7% of the relevant university constituency), and (b)
there is thus rarely any research grant or dedicated budget from which to pay
for things such as page or reprint charges.
Humanities journals are really cheap in price in comparison to some other
fields, and so are quite often subscribed to by individuals and not only libraries.
Scholars are much more accustomed to reading them at home, on the bus or
train, and so the low cost and ease of use of paper journals will make for some
resistance to going electronic completely, at least in the immediate term.
Again, in the Humanities it isn't so much the financial constraint upon
*access*, but more the financial constraint upon *publication itself*.

L. W. Hurtado
University of Edinburgh,
New College
Mound Place
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 2LX
Phone: 0131-650-8920
Fax: 0131-650-6579
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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