Re: The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 03:55:28 +0000

                ECONOMIES OF SCALE
                Stevan Harnad

 In "Scale and scalability," Jan Velterop wrote:

    "self-archiving is... not scalable. As long as... only a small number
    of authors... [self-archive] anarchically and unpredictably, it will
    work... [But] [t]ake the anarchy and unpredictability out of it...
    via self-archiving mandates - and... [n]o publisher... could afford
    to allow authors to self-archive... and 'green' would fade out
    of existence."

Individual journals making 100% of their own contents Open Access (OA)
(gold), all at once, and all in one place, right now, is likely to cause

In contrast, authors making their own articles OA (green) by
self-archiving them in their own Institutional Repositories,
anarchically and distributedly, does not provide 100% of the contents of
any individual journal, and its extent and growth rate is hard to
ascertain. (In other words, individual mandates are just as anarchic as
individual self-archiving with respect to the contents of any individual

Hence self-archiving is unlikely to cause journal cancellations until
the self-archiving of all articles in all journals is reliably at or
near 100%. If/when that happens, or is clearly approaching, journals can
and will scale down to become peer-review service providers only,
recovering their much reduced costs on the OA model that Jan favors. But
journals are extremely unlikely to want to do that scaling down and
conversion now, when there is no pressure to do it. And there is
certainly no reason for researchers to sit waiting meanwhile, as they
keep losing access, usage and impact. Mandates will pressure researchers
to self-archive, and, eventually, 100% self-archiving might also
pressure journals to scale down and convert to the model Jan advocates.

Right now, however, journals are all still making ends meet through
subscriptions, whereas (non-self-archiving) researchers are all still
losing about half their potential daily usage and impact, cumulatively.
The immediate priority for research, researchers, their institutions and
their funders is hence obvious, and it is certainly not to pay their
journals' current asking-price for making each individual article OA,
over and above paying for subscriptions: It is to make their own
individual articles OA, right now, by self-archiving them, and to pay
for peer review only if and when journals have minimized costs by
scaling down to the essentials in the OA era if/when there is no longer
any sustainable way of recovering those costs via subscriptions.

(By that time, of course, subscription cancellation savings will have
become available to pay those reduced costs up-front. Today they are
not; and double-paying up front would be pure folly.)

Stevan Harnad

Pertinent Prior AmSci Subject Threads:

    "Savings from Converting to On-Line-Only: 30%- or 70%+ ?"
     (Started Aug 27 1998)

    "The Logic of Page Charges to Free the Journal Literature"
    (Started April 29 1999)

    "2.0K vs. 0.2K"
    (Started May 7 1999)

    "Online Self-Archiving: Distinguishing the Optimal from the
    (Started May 11 1999)

    "The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)"
    (Started July 5 1999)

    "Separating Quality-Control Service-Providing from
    (Started November 30 1999)

    "Distinguishing the Essentials from the Optional Add-Ons"
    (Started July 2001)

    "Author Publication Charge Debate"
    (Started June 28 2001)

    "JHEP will convert from toll-free-access to toll-based access"
    (Started January 5 2002)

    "The True Cost of the Essentials"
    (Started April 2 2002)

    "The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review - NOT!)"
    (Started April 1 2002)

    "Journal expenses and publication costs"
    (Started January 10 2003)

   "Scientific publishing is not just about administering peer-review"
    (Started October 15 2003)

    "The Economics of Open Access Journal Publishing"
    (Started November 3 2003)

    "The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition"
    (Started January 7 2004)
Received on Wed Dec 13 2006 - 11:44:08 GMT

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