Re: JHEP will convert from toll-free-access to toll-based access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 17:30:15 +0000

On Fri, 25 Jan 2002, Katherine Porter wrote:

> This prevents an interesting opportunity to see how important free
> access is to the status of a journal. The IOP press release speaks
> in glowing terms of JHEP's importance, it's 6.6 impact factor
> attained in just 1 year. I wonder if this would be true had it cost
> $900 from issue 1. I wonder what the impact will be in 2004 or
> 2005 when it is no longer free.

Yes, offering toll-free-access for a start-up, to gather visibility and
impact, and then later phasing in toll-based access might be a good
journal launching strategy, but that certainly was not the case with

JHEP (and its immediate, massive impact factor) was virtually a
creation of the success and growth of the toll-free-access Physics
Archive , which began and is best represented in
the HEP area And JHEP
definitely was not founded with the intention or expectation that its
own growth and success would force it to resort to toll-based
cost-recovery! (JHEP's spectacular success and impact was also in no
small owed to the immediate fealty of authors such as Ed Witten:
enter "witten" into to
see the gravitas that came with his contributions.)

But the ultimate irony is this: Virtually 100% of the papers appearing
in JHEP are also self-archived by their authors in
So even now that access to JHEP will become toll-based, the free versions
will remain accessible through Arxiv!

So what this transition to toll-based access to JHEP may really be
testing (and no one knows in advance what will be the outcome of this
test!) is how much of a market for toll-based access can be sustained
even when there is toll-free access to the self-archived versions
through Eprint Archives?

If it turns out that the essential costs of peer review can be covered
from the toll-based revenues even when free-access versions are
available too, then this is a sustainable co-existence model, and a
strong and positive harbinger for the success of generalized
self-archiving, for all 20,000+ peer-reviewed journals, across
disciplines and around the world.

But do not forget that JHEP had already done the requisite downsizing
to the bare essentials in advance, in virtue of its online-only,
toll-free-access launch. The other 20,000 may still have to do some
slimming down if they are to co-exist successfully with their
self-archived toll-free counterparts. On the other hand, if they do
not raise price excessively, it may be the journal's value-added
enhancements that sustain the demand for the toll-based version!

    "The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)"

    "Distinguishing the Essentials from the Optional Add-Ons"

So it will be interesting to see which way things go.

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing free
access to the refereed journal literature online is available at the
American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01):

You may join the list at the amsci site.

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Received on Fri Jan 25 2002 - 17:30:39 GMT

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