Re: Should Publishers Offer Free-Access Services?

From: Thomas J. Walker <tjw_at_GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 09:15:55 -0500

At 07:31 PM 2/21/00 +0000, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>I'm afraid Tom has not answered any of the points I raised about the
>relative advantages and disadvantages of IFWA (Immediate Free Web
>Access) via paid journal o-prints vs. free self-archiving:

What are "o-prints"? [=online reprints?] Whatever they are, why should
"o-prints" be used in place of previously suggested terms.

>On Mon, 21 Feb 2000, Thomas J. Walker wrote:
>> For this transition to occur, authors and their supporting institutions
>> must be willing to pay for IFWA, which at first might seem to be a stopper.
>No, one can have IFWA for free, immediately, through self-archiving in
>Open Archives, now.
>> Most authors who buy paper reprints will probably conclude that they
>> can forego them
>And most authors, knowing they can get IFWA for free by self-archiving,
>will probably conclude that they can forego needless journal o-print
>charges, regardless of how low they may be.

That is your opinion. Mine is that most authors publishing in their
societies' journals will forego self-archiving and choose to pay a fair fee
for a new service that their society offers and they want to have. This
seems especially likely when the service is better and cheaper than a
service they are already buying but will now no longer need (paper reprints).

Now let's consider "regardless of how low they [IFWA charges] may be."

The Florida Entomological Society (FES) has been providing all its authors
IFWA since 1994 _with no additional charge_. In 1995 it started calling
this new, free service "electronic reprints." The motivation in giving the
service that name was to make it easier for the Society to eventually
charge for the service. It suspected that revenues from institutional
subscriptions would decline because all articles were immediately available
on the Internet (first on Gopher, then on WWW). The expected decline in
subscription revenues has yet to occur
( However, if it
does, FES intends to start charging for its IFWA service and to make the
price commensurate with its cost (which includes loss of revenues from
institutional subscriptions).

Question: If FES's revenues from institutional subscriptions begin a steep
decline, how should FES garner enough revenues to continue publishing paper
issues until its members are willing to forego them?

Question: Should FES not sell publisher-provided IFWA at a fair price to
those authors who wish to pay for it?

FES expects to pay for publication solely from IFWA charges in the all-e

Question: How should societies that publish journals plan for the
transition to the all-e future?

>> When (and if) IFWA sales becomes great enough to encourage subscription
>> cancellations, the price of IFWA can be raised to compensate for declining
>> subscription revenues. Then, unless sales of IFWA decline, the path to the
>> new system will be clear.
>But given the free IFWA option, i.e., self-archiving, clearly
>available, what else can IFWA sales do but decline as their cost goes

If authors don't want to pay the increasing costs of publisher-provided
IFWA they can forego IFWA or switch to self-archiving. The option of
self-archiving should be one thing that keeps the price of
publisher-provided IFWA low.

>> I believe that the path will be clear because IFWA is becoming increasingly
>> valuable as more and more journals establish online versions and try to add
>> value to them by providing hyperlinks to the full text of entries in their
>> Reference Cited sections.
>No, IFWA (Immediate Free Web Archiving) is free through self-archiving,
>and free archives are being reference-hyperlinked too (and without any
>financial firewalls to cross from reference to reference):

IFWA is IFWAccess not IFWArchiving. The emphasis is upon immediate access
to current refereed articles rather than the archiving of same.

The option of reference-hyperlinking to any IFWA article is clearly there,
but getting publishers to actually do it is another matter. For example,
Entomological Society of America began restricted-access publishing of its
four major journals last year but has so far not reference-linked to
Florida Entomologist articles (in spite of my urging).

Can you name a journal publisher in biology or medicine that
reference-hyperlinks to self-archived articles?

>> Only those works that are freely accessible or for which the
>> publisher has special access can be so linked.
>Alas, no; firewalled reference-linking (with S/L/P barriers to cross to
>get to the literature) is perfectly possible, and already exists.

Indeed it does exist, but free access to the full text is what I'm
referring to.

>> Thus those authors whose
>> articles are _freely_ Web accessible will especially benefit from increased
>> employment of external hyperlinks, as will the institutions that support
>> them.
>Some publishers are contemplating click-through monopolies whereby
>their respective proprietary contents can be interlinked within collective
>licensing agreements.
>> [Publishers will be more likely to hyperlink to PubMed Central
>> postings than to self-archived articles, because it will be simpler and
>> because publishers are unlikely to go out of their ways to encourage
>> self-archiving.]
>Why will it be simpler? The whole point of the Santa-Fe convention is
>to ensure that all the Open Archives are interoperable and

It will be simpler because all articles on PubMed Central will be organized
with a single (easy-to-use?) system and all articles that are posted there
will be publisher-certified as being the archived versions of refereed

>> The value of IFWA becomes even clearer when one considers the online
>> versions of major literature indexes (such as Current Contents, Biological
>> Abstracts, CAB, and Agricola). Users of these indexes would like immediate
>> access to the full text of their hits. Producers of these indexes will
>> compete to add value to their products by including as many external links
>> as possible. Thus IFWA articles should be immediately accessible from
>> online indexes. Non-IFWA articles (=those with restricted access) cannot
>> be linked or the links will work only for those who are qualified by having
>> subscriptions or by belonging to an institution that has a site license.
>This is exactly equally true for IFWA self-archiving for free in the
>Open Archives and for paid IFWA by journals; so it is not a factor in
>favour of paid o-prints either.
>Open Archives are designed so that secondary service providers can offer
>services on top of them. But the main services of the secondaries like
>CC and BA will be so easy to provide on the full-text archives that they
>are far more likely to be (free) competitors than added values for the
>the existing (non-free) secondaries...

I agree that indexes like CC and BA will no longer be needed once there is
IFWA for all articles. In the meantime they will maintain or increase
their usefulness (and revenues) by linking to all the articles for which
the publisher has provided IFWA.

>> Do authors want anyone using one of these indexes to have immediate access
>> to their current articles? Do institutions want such access to the results
>> of the research they have sponsored? If the answers are YES, society
>> publishers will be an untenable position if they refuse to offer their
>> authors that option. And all publishers that offer IFWA will profit from
>> it, which just might speed the transition to universal free access.
>This formula unfortunately does not gain from repetition! You have to
>explain why anyone would want to pay for IFWA when they can have it for
>free, along with every one of the benefits you mention.

The missing benefits are convenience and publisher certification.

Speaking of convenience, having grown up in the US's Great Depression, I'm
appalled at what my countrymen now are willing to pay for convenience. For
example, the groceries where I shop sell huge quantities of high-price
cut-up lettuce (for salads) even though low-price whole lettuce is in the
next bin. [Is it simpler to self-archive than to cut up lettuce?]

>Stevan Harnad
>Professor of Cognitive Science
>Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
> Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
>University of Southampton
>Highfield, Southampton
>NOTE: A complete archive of this ongoing discussion of "Freeing the
>Refereed Journal Literature Through Online Self-Archiving" is available
>at the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99):

As a former U.S. president once said, "There you go again!" Why not
"...this ongoing discussion of 'Providing free Web access to the refereed
journal literature'"?

Tom Walker
Thomas J. Walker
Department of Entomology & Nematology
University of Florida, PO Box 110620, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
E-mail: FAX: (352)392-0190
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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