December 17, 2004

Scholarly Journal Prices: Selected Trends and Comparisons - New Report from LISU

:: Joe Kraus, on the ReedElsevier listserv, writes:

I read in the SLA rag, Information Outlook, that the Library and Information Statistics Unit (LISU) of Loughborough University in Leicestershire, UK had written a report -- Scholarly Journal Prices: Selected Trends and Comparisons. "This report, published with the permission of Oxford Journals, a division of Oxford University Press, documents the results of the Journals Pricing Analysis project, undertaken by LISU for OUP."

Take a look at "Fig 2.5 Median journal prices - science" on page 15 of the PDF. This is particularly interesting. But, Elsevier does have /somewhat average/ median price per page, (see page 20 of the PDF), but Elsevier is still the highest for "Fig 2.12 Median price per point of impact factor 1993-2003" on page 23 of the PDF.

Of course, there is a lot more to consider and read from this 122 page report than my very short synopsis.

The issue of Information Outlook of which Joe writes is the December 2004 number, which, predictably, I have yet to receive, being in Canada. (Update: The issue is Information Outlook, v8 n12, December 2004, p7.) The report is written by Sonya White and Claire Creaser, and is LISU Occasional Paper No. 34. In the executive summary, the authors highlight the following issues which emerged from their work:

Continue reading "Scholarly Journal Prices: Selected Trends and Comparisons - New Report from LISU" »

August 24, 2004

Real-Time Document Request™ (RDR™) Ranking Establishes New Method of Evaluating Scientific Journals

:: Press Release: CAS Science Spotlight Ratings Show Journals' Significance for Scientists

Philadelphia, August 23, 2004 - Recording how often a journal's contents are cited in scientific literature has long been the conventional way of measuring the importance of specific publications and even of the authors themselves. However, the widespread availability of electronic journals on the Web has enabled CAS to provide a new measurement - a tally of researchers' actual requests (Real-Time Document Requests) for full-text articles transmitted via CAS search services. The latest rankings are now available on the Web, free of charge, through CAS Science Spotlight and were announced at the American Chemical Society national meeting held this week in Philadelphia.

Continue reading "Real-Time Document Request™ (RDR™) Ranking Establishes New Method of Evaluating Scientific Journals" »

June 9, 2004

Reed Elsevier gives in on free research

This may be old news already, but I remembered a few interesting pieces that came out fairly recently regarding institutional repositories. The Elsevier decision seems to be promising news that publishing in high profile journals and providing a reasonable degree of unfettered access doesn't always have to be at odds...

Reed Elsevier gives in on free research
By Saeed Shah, 04 June 2004

Reed Elsevier has allowed academics who submit articles for publication in its science journals to make the research available for free on their personal or institutional websites.

The move was seen as a major concession to the "open access" lobby - a movement among academics and university librarians that argues that published research should be made available to all scientists free. Academic libraries have complained that subscriptions to leading science journals, such as those published by Reed Elsevier, are cripplingly expensive. The company has responded that it acts as a guarantee of quality...

Nature also recently published an article endorsing the "green road" of institutional self-archiving.
The green and the gold roads to Open Access

The crisis in university journal budgets first brought to light the problem of access to published research. But the problems of affordability and access, although often confused, are distinct. We describe here a practical solution to the access problem...

May 28, 2004

Electrochemical Journals, AIP's Scitation, Cost-Effectiveness - Commentary by Dana Roth

:: Nearly 40 years ago, in my first library job, I overheard The Electrochemical Society (ECS) disparaged as a 'Neanderthal' society, which might explain the initial popularity of the commercially published Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry (JEC), Electrochimica Acta (ECA) and Journal of Power Sources (JPS). This characterization certainly hasn't been true for many years(1) and, with the 2003 annual costs of JEC (nearly $10K for less than 4K pages), ECA over $3.6K (for less than 4.4K pages) & JPS (over $3.3K for about 4500 pages), one is hard pressed not to ruminate on the cost/page data, for these commercially published journals, compared with the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES), which was priced at only $692 for about 5400 pages.

The transition of the electronic versions of the ECS research journals -- JES & Electrochemical and Solid State Letters (ESL)-- in 2004 to AIP's new Scitation publishing platform (formerly OJPS), is very welcome news(2). Scitation currently includes 110 journals from 18 STM publishers, providing both forward and backward reference linking from over 600,000 articles (growing at a rate of 6,000 per month). Journals can be browsed by title, publisher or subject category. A wide variety of features for individualization are available (e.g. MyTOCAlerts) and new features are scheduled for 2004. Keyword searching of SPIN + Scitation articles is available for library or personal subscribers, with keyword searching of Scitation abstracts freely available with registration. Scitation's publisher list currently includes the expected (e.g. AIP journals, etc.) as well as: APS, ASCE, ASME, ACS Geochem. Div., ECS, ICDD, Maik Nauka, SPIE, etc. Fulltext articles can be displayed, by subscribers, as PDFs, HTML or sectioned HTML.

Continue reading "Electrochemical Journals, AIP's Scitation, Cost-Effectiveness - Commentary by Dana Roth" »

May 17, 2004

Electronic Scientific, Technical, and Medical Journal Publishing and Its Implications: Report of a Symposium

:: The Symposium on Electronic Scientific, Technical and Medical Journal Publishing and Its Implications was held on 19-20 May 2003, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC. The conference papers, Electronic Scientific, Technical, and Medical Journal Publishing and Its Implications: Report of a Symposium, are now available from National Academy Press. The publication can be read online at no charge. From pviii of the Preface:

The symposium brought together experts in STM publishing, both producers and users of these publications, to: 1. identify the recent technical changes in publishing, and other factors, that influence the decisions of journal publishers to produce journals electronically; 2. identify the needs of the scientific, engineering, and medical community as users of journals, whether electronic or printed; 3. discuss the responses of not-for-profit and commercial STM publishers and of other stakeholders in the STM community to the opportunities and challenges posed by the shift to electronic publishing; and 4. examine the spectrum of proposals that has been put forth to respond to the needs of users as the publishing industry shifts to electronic information production and dissemination.

From p7 of the Introduction:

The main focus of this symposium was how different business and distribution models for scientific, technical and medical (STM) information publishing are changing in the face of digital technology developments. How do the emerging models address the need of the scientific community for the widest possible long-term access to such information? In developing the symposium's program, the planning committee was mindful of the broad, ongoing changes in scientific research, funding and goals--changes that stimulate, and are stimulated by, new forms of scholarly communication. The challenge was to identify issues and problems that the STM communities need to control and resolve in order to exploit the remarkable and growing opportunities offered by the rapidly evolving computer and networking technologies.
(From: Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog, May 17, 2004)

May 14, 2004

Commentary: The Crisis In Scholary Communication, by George Porter

The crisis in scholarly communications is now well into its third decade by many accounts. I was discussing journal cancellations with a faculty member when we touched on Henry Barschal's seminal analysis of commercially and society published journal prices. Stanford and Yale have collaborated to document the entire case of Gordon & Breach v. American Institute of Physics and American Physical Society.

Library-publisher dynamics have not changed greatly in the intervening years, but the broader awareness and concern with the topic has undergone a sea change in the last few years.

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) petition did not result in a massive boycott of journals. PLoS did make a significant splash with coverage in the broader news media at the time. The emergence of PubMed Central, BioMed Central, and PLoS as publishers has not gone unnoticed, perhaps due to the sensitization of faculty and the media through the earlier effort.

Continue reading "Commentary: The Crisis In Scholary Communication, by George Porter" »

May 3, 2004

Open access could reduce cost of scientific publishing

New report reveals open access could reduce cost of scientific publishing by up to 30 per cent

The Wellcome Trust report shows for the first time that the open access model of scientific publishing - where the author of a research paper pays for peer reviewed research to be made available on the web free to all who wish to use it - is economically viable, guarantees high quality research and is a sustainable option which could revolutionise the world of traditional scientific publishing. Currently researchers are obliged to give the copyright to their research to publishers who then charge researchers to use that work through subscription fees...

The report, produced by SQW, is available online at and will be passed to the inquiry being conducted into this issue by the Science and Technology Select Committee in the House of Commons. [via OLDaily]

April 27, 2004

Arabidopsis Book

George posted the following biology resource to STS-L. Note that the Arabidopsis Book is open access.

The Arabidopsis Book is an Open Access project bringing together an encyclopedic description of one of the most heavily studied plant species. Quoting from the American Society of Plant Biologist's (ASPB) website:

This electronic book, The Arabidopsis Book (TAB), ISSN: 1543-8120, is an attempt at a new mode of communication between researchers and a new model for scientific publishing. TAB in its initial stage is a compilation of over 100 invited chapters, each reviewing in detail an important and interesting aspect of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, with reference to what is known in other plants and in other kingdoms.

Arabidopsis Book
Fulltext v1+ (2002+)
ISSN: 1543-8120

The ASPB version is organized into sections, then access is at the individual chapter level, in PDF only. BioOne provides both HTML and PDF versions of each chapter. In addition, BioOne has implemented a search interface.

Although BioOne's materials are primarily subscription-based, The Arabidopsis Book is one of a few BioOne collections which are Open Access. In addition:

Florida Entomologist
Fulltext v85+ (2002+)
Fulltext v1+ (1917+)
ISSN: 0015-4040

April 23, 2004

Publishing Conference Literature: Print, Online, DVD, CD - Considering the Options

:: Aleteia Greenwood at UBC posed an interesting question on ELDNET-L on April 22:

A UBC civil engineering faculty member has asked me a few questions that I am hoping I can ask you all and get your opinions.

In August the 13th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering will take place in Vancouver. For this conference over 2,000 papers will be presented. The faculty member is suggesting that the proceedings be distributed in digital format, most likely a DVD.

He has asked me:

1. What is the current policy in libraries with regard to the preferred format of proceedings from large conferences? Do you still prefer to have a printed copy of proceedings, or will libraries accept proceedings in digital format (DVD or CD).

2. If a limited set of hard copies of the proceedings were produced how many libraries might be interested in getting a hard copy instead of the DVD. The proceedings in print will be 12-14 volumes.

3. Is there a depository where the papers could be placed on a permanent basis so that a few years from now people interested in getting a copy of a paper could get it either for free or at a very nominal fee?

4. If proceedings in digital format are acceptable to libraries, would DVD or CDs be better? or does it matter?

With the ongoing struggle many (most?) libraries face with respect to physical space, and the relatively low (lower?) usage of conference literature in comparison to monographs, although there is considerable variation between discipline-specific subcultures, a 12-14 volume set of conference proceedings poses a daunting problem of storage space versus utility. CD or DVD distribution is nearly infinitely superior with respect to portability and space utilization.

DVD offers a many fold storage advantage over CD. Neither have an assured lifespan on the order of print on paper and both are far more susceptible to loss or breakage than a 14 volume set of bound books. IP-based distribution, however, obviates the need for manufacture, inventory storage, distribution, and library space consumption.

The Caltech Library System assisted in the production of proceedings for the Fourth International Symposium on Cavitation. Hosted by Caltech, June, 2001. CAV2001 is one of the constituent archives in Caltech CODA (Caltech Collection of Open Digital Archives).

The proceedings are compliant with the Open Archives Initiative - Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), are regularly harvested by both repository web crawlers; e.g. OAIster; and general purpose web crawlers; e.g. Googlebot. As a result, the material continues to see steady use 3 years after the conference.

The papers are individually addressable and may be linked at that level. As such, conference papers presented in this manner are well suited for indexing and abstracting by traditional A&I services, in addition to the increased visibility gained through automated crawler/indexers. The next higher level of aggregation, reflected in the cataloging record and in the website, is the session. The overarching collection of sessions, then, is the complete conference. As the host institution, and the library behind the digital conference proceedings effort, it was incumbent upon the Caltech Library System to catalog the archive and contribute the original cataloging to OCLC [OCLC # 47115292].

The technology used in this archive combines software, for the user interface and the submission/approval process, with a local URL resolver that implements URL persistence, to provide stable, persistent URLs at the individual paper level.

Part of the Caltech experience with the CAV2001 project is documented in this article: Douglas, Kimberly (2003). Conference Proceedings at Publishing Cross-Roads

Other aspects of the technology may be better addressed through papers on the software:

  • Sponsler, Ed and Van de Velde, Eric F. (2001) Software: a Review.

    and the local implementation of the URL resolver:

  • Sponsler, Ed (2001) PURR - The Persistent URL Resource Resolver

    Another conference came to the Caltech campus recently, LES & SGS Modeling For Turbulent Mixing and Reactive Flows, December 8-9, 2003. The conference organizers, rather than wanting to publish complete proceedings, were interested in producing extended abstracts. The same technology was used to create CaltechLESSGS, Proceedings LES and SGS Modeling For Turbulent Mixing and Reactive Flows, December 8-9, 2003, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA USA.

    So, in answer to the basic question, neither DVD nor print is desired for conference literature. Get it online and distribute it gratis. The tools necessary are Open Source and LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl). - George Porter

    :: I agree with George, and would add that neither DVD nor print nor CD-ROM is desired for the publishing conference literature. When I order conferences for our collection, I try to avoid purchasing those which are published in CD format only. Our library does not have PAC stations with CD drives, and with conference proceedings, my experience has been that users want either print or online versions. I would accept print as a second choice to online, or the only alternative to online, rather than pay for CD or DVD. The other issue with any conference proceedings, of course, is pricing.

    Would the conference organizers and sponsors need to recoup the cost of producing the conference proceedings? If so, and they choose the online option, would the publishers of the online version be prepared to handle IP address restrictions, or would this concern simply enhance the price further? Regardless, George is right in suggesting the way to go is online.

    If you have any comments on this topic, please contact Aleteia, who would be grateful to receive them!

  • April 7, 2004

    U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry - Update

    :: The latest SPARC E-News has an update on the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry. The Inquiry has moved into its second stage. The Inquiry was mentioned previously here, here, and here. Hear, hear! (via George Porter.)

    April 2, 2004

    Suber's List of Actions

    In the latest SPARC OPen Access Newsletter, Peter Suber announces that that he has put together a very valuable list of "actions" dealing with university library subscriptions and public statements against rising journal costs. The list, which begins in Fall 2003, can be found at:

    It's notable how many of the public statements mention the need to cultivate alternative forms of scholarly communication, and open access in particular, as part of the overall solution. It's notable how many recommend that faculty withhold their labor as authors, referees, and editors from journals that aggravate the problem rather than advance the solution. It's notable how often faculty were persuaded to endorse the cancellations despite the harm it does to their research projects and careers. It's notable how often faculty, librarians, and administrators (and at Berkeley, also graduate students) agreed on their long-term interest (in a better publishing system and better journals forever) and put it ahead of their short-term interest (journals next year).
    Peter is absolutely correct that diplomacy and polite debate are clearly beginning to fall to the wayside in favour of more forthright arguments against the excessive profits of some publishers and the tightening purse strings of many university libraries.

    New reading from Nature Open Access Forum:

    Ann Okerson, "On being scientific about science publishing, " (April 1, 2004)

    Jan Velterop, "The myth of 'unsustainable' Open Access journals," (April 1, 2004)

    February 20, 2004

    Wired News: Scientists: Bush Distorts Science

    I came across a very interesting read regarding the Bush administration and their influence on the scientific community. The article unmasks the bias of so-called "peer-review" that happens when peers are selected or excluded using criteria based not on merit but on the desired outcome of their findings. In this case, the Bush administration seems guilty of trying to influence the process by selecting experts that will back up whatever it is that they wish the outcome to be. Not all scientists are happy about this action.

    The Bush administration has distorted scientific fact leading to policy decisions on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry, a group of about 60 scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, said in a statement on Wednesday.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists, an independent organization, also issued a 37-page report, "Scientific Integrity in Policymaking," detailing the accusations. The statement and the report both accuse the Bush administration of distorting and suppressing findings that contradict administration policies, stacking panels with like-minded and underqualified scientists with ties to industry, and eliminating some advisory committees altogether.

    The scientists listed various policy issues as being unfairly influenced by the administration, including those concerning climate change, mercury emissions, reproductive health, lead poisoning in children, workplace safety and nuclear weapons.
    [Wired News: Scientists: Bush Distorts Science]

    :: More on the Union of Concerned Scientists from Science or Google News.

    Publishers split over response to US trade embargo ruling

    The following is from Nature, v429, n6976, p663.

      Publishers split over response to US trade embargo ruling

      [WASHINGTON] Iranians struggling to secure free speech at home are facing a fresh set of restrictions from the US government.

      The US Department of the Treasury has ruled that editing or publishing scientific manuscripts from Iran, Libya, Sudan and Cuba violates the trade embargo on these countries. And US publishers and scientific societies are divided over how to respond.

      At a meeting in Washington on 9 February, David Mills, the treasury official in charge of implementing the policy, told representatives of 30 publishers that anyone wanting to publish papers from Iran should seek a licence from the treasury department. He also suggested that US scientists collaborating with Iranians could be prosecuted.

    Continue reading "Publishers split over response to US trade embargo ruling" »

    February 10, 2004

    MIT Libraries Declines Three-Year Elsevier and Wiley Renewals

    :: Another major library system has joined Cornell University Library in not renewing their subscriptions to Elsevier journals. MIT Libraries has announced it will not renew three-year online and print subscription packages from Wiley InterScience and Elsevier Science. Last year, the Faculty Committee of the Library System expressed their concern about this issue:

      “… we are concerned about the pressures exerted on the scholarly publishing system by a small number of highly profitable commercial publishers concentrating in science and technology journals. These publishers lock libraries into high-priced packages for combined print/electronic output, and contractually constrain libraries’ ability to manage expenditures. Libraries must invest a continually larger percentage of their budgets in providing access to these publications.”

      **Professor Marcus Zahn, Chair of the Faculty Committee on the Library System The MIT Faculty Newsletter, Dec.-Jan., 2003

    MIT Libraries was offered the three-year renewal packages through their membership in the NorthEast Research Libraries Consortium (NERL), but the cost and commitment to proceed became prohibitive:
      "Through our membership in the NorthEast Research Libraries Consortium (NERL), the MIT Libraries were offered three-year renewals for our Wiley and Elsevier packages of print and electronic journals. The costs of these two packages constitute approximately one-third of the Libraries’ budget for serials (those materials we pay for by subscription on a continuing basis). The multi-year agreements required a commitment not to cancel titles (or to substitute other titles at the same price level for any cancellations). The decision to decline the three-year renewals was difficult because the terms for one-year renewals were considerably less attractive. However, the one-year renewals put us in a position of being able to cancel titles next year if we need to."
    So what happens next? Harvard University Library has cancelled subscriptions to ~100 Elsevier journals. With the most important research institutions on Planet Earth cancelling journals from the largest STM publisher, where does that leave their scientists, scholars and engineers? Will these actions put pressure on Elsevier to drop their prices, or will they increase them further so that those of us who still subscribe will bear the brunt of their losses to date?

    February 2, 2004

    Suber, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, 2/4/04

    New issue: SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #70February 2, 2004 is available now. Of note: an interesting report back on PLoS's first month of publication.

    January 27, 2004

    Directory of Open Access Journals

    Further to my last posting, for a listing of open access journals in biological sciences, or for that matter, other subject areas of interest, be sure to visit the Directory of Open Access Journals (under the direction of a new project coordinator).

    January 26, 2004

    Quantitative Biology at

    The following email re: open access materials was posted to STS-L on Friday.

    I just noticed a new eprint archive at arXiv (formerly -- Quantitative Biology. Subject groupings include:

    # BM - Biomolecules
    # CB - Cell Behavior
    # GN - Genomics
    # MN - Molecular Networks
    # NC - Neurons and Cognition
    # OT - Other
    # PE - Populations and Evolution
    # QM - Quantitative Methods
    # SC - Subcellular Processes
    # TO - Tissues and Organs

    The q-bio announcement indicates the archive was established in mid-September 2003. This development is especially noteworthy in that biology, as a discipline, has not had the same preprint sociology which nurtured the development of for the mathematics and physics communities.

    George S. Porter
    Sherman Fairchild Library of Engineering & Applied Science
    California Institute of Technology

    Two other big(ger) open access models covering Biological Sciences are of course those of BioMed Central and BioOne*.
    *(BioOne is actually not open access, but rather yet another model of publishing involving "innovative collaboration between scientific societies, libraries, academe and the private sector." Journals via BioOne are low cost, but not open access.)

    January 16, 2004

    ISI buys BIOSIS

    And the number continues to shrink...

    Thomson Corp. said yesterday that it had acquired the publishing assets of Philadelphia-based Biological Abstracts Inc. and Biosis, a life-sciences indexing service. Financial terms of the deal, which closed Friday, were not disclosed. The nonprofit Biosis' 125 employees, at 20th and Market Streets, and 40 other employees in York, England, now work for Thomson ISI, a business unit of Thomson Scientific & Healthcare, based in Philadelphia. Biosis' employees, now in leased space at Two Commerce Square, will move eventually to Thomson offices at 35th and Market Streets, said Michael Tansey, president and chief executive officer of Thomson Scientific. "Nobody lost their jobs," he said. Because the transaction involved a for-profit company buying a nonprofit, proceeds from the sale of Biosis' publishing assets will go to a new foundation, the J.R.S. Foundation, run by Biosis' former board of trustees to "further the work of biological scientists," said Joel Baron, an adviser to the former Biosis board. "The foundation money could be used for funding life-science research, supporting the work of researchers in Third World countries, or to support other foundations," Baron said. "A final determination has not been made." Biosis, which was founded in 1926, produces databases and services for life-sciences research, including Biological Abstracts, Biosis Previews and Zoological Record, which is published jointly with the Zoological Society of London. Thomson said Biosis was the world's largest abstracting and indexing service. Toronto-based Thomson, with $7.8 billion in revenue in 2002, is a publisher of specialized information for businesses, with more than 20 million users in the fields of law, tax, accounting, financial services, higher education, reference information, corporate training, scientific research, and health care. Thomson's products range from Westlaw legal databases and the Physicians' Desk Reference to university textbooks. Thomson ISI, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1958 as the Institute for Scientific Information, provides Web-based information to researchers, students and businesses worldwide. Biosis announced in May that it was seeking a partner to ensure that researchers, educators, students and others would have continued affordable access to biological research. In October, Biosis said it was in final negotiations with Thomson. [Source:]

    January 15, 2004

    Symposium on Electronic Scientific, Technical, and Medical Journal Publishing and its Implications

    :: On May 19-20, 2003, the National Academy of Sciences held the Symposium on Electronic Scientific, Technical, and Medical Journal Publishing and its Implications. A number of presentations from that conference are now available for viewing. Geoff reported previously that the sessions he listened to on a webcast were interesting, and covered a wide range of topics.

    December 23, 2003

    OUP and continuous online publication model

    :: Back in August we posted about OUP's move towards experimenting with new online publishing model. A few more details have been released.

    Oxford University Press is pleased to announce that Nucleic Acids Research (NAR) is adopting a continuous online publication model. The key aim of this new model is to ensure the fastest possible online publication time for accepted papers. The online version of the journal will be the definitive and final version, but a print version will continue to be available to print subscribers.

    If your institution subscribes to NAR, you may be interested to know about the various implications for users of the journal. If so, please visit for details. [via OUP Journals Library E-Mail Lis]

    Yours faithfully

    Claire Saxby
    Journals Editorial Department
    Oxford University Press

    PLoS Biology -- December Issue Now Out

    :: Vol 1(3) is here! Please let your friends and colleagues know that a new issue of PLoS Biology is up and running, and invite them to read it for free at

    PLoS has just announced [last week] that individuals can become members of our organization. For a small donation (tax deductible in the US), you can be part of PLoS! For more information or to donate online, visit and click beneath "Become an Individual Member."

    December 16, 2003

    BioMed Central launches BMC Medicine and BMC Biology

    :: "BioMed Central launched a new pair of Open Access journals – BMC Medicine and BMC Biology – on 1 December. The journals compliment the 57 established specialist titles in the BMC journal series by providing a selective home for articles of broad interest within a large field or across fields.

    BMC Biology publishes original research articles and methodology articles in any area of biology but with a focus on the biomedical sciences. BMC Medicine publishes original research articles, technical advances and study protocols in any area of medical science or clinical practice."

    December 12, 2003

    UK Parliamentary Committee to Investigate Pricing and Availability of Scholarly Journals

    :: With an increasing academic backlash against yearly skyrocketing prices for scholary journals, a UK parliamentary science and technology committee is preparing to investigate the state of scientific publishing, in the new year.

      The committee will look at access to journals, with particular reference to price and availability.

      Specifically the committee will ask about the importance of open-access journals and whether the government should support the trend towards free scientific information. Such a move could spell disaster for Reed Elsevier. With their high margins, Reed's science and legal publishing operations are currently supporting its weaker business to business and education operations.

    The press notice from the House of Commons was posted on STLQ on Dec 10, 2003.

    December 10, 2003

    House of Commons STL Access Inquiry

    As posted to Liblicense-L:


    Committee Office, House of Commons, No. 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA
    Tel. Nos. 020 7219 2793-2794 (Fax. No. - 0896) email:

    No. 3 of Session 2003-04, dated 10 December 2003

    Scientific Publications

    The Science and Technology Committee is to conduct an inquiry into
    scientific publications.

    The Committee will be looking at access to journals within the scientific
    community, with particular reference to price and availability. It will be
    asking what measures are being taken in government, the publishing
    industry and academic institutions to ensure that researchers, teachers
    and students have access to the publications they need in order to carry
    out their work effectively. The inquiry will also examine the impact that
    the current trend towards e-publishing may have on the integrity of
    journals and the scientific process.

    The Committee is inviting written evidence on the following points:

    * What impact do publishers' current policies on pricing and provision of
    scientific journals, particularly "big deal schemes", have on libraries
    and the teaching and research communities they serve?

    * What action should Government, academic institutions and publishers be
    taking to promote a competitive market in scientific publications?

    * What are the consequences of increasing numbers of open-access journals,
    for example for the operation of the Research Assessment Exercise and
    other selection processes? Should the Government support such a trend and,
    if so, how?

    * How effectively are the Legal Deposit Libraries making available
    non-print scientific publications to the research community, and what
    steps should they be taking in this respect?

    * What impact will trends in academic journal publishing have on the risks
    of scientific fraud and malpractice?

    The Committee would welcome written evidence from interested organisations
    and individuals addressing these points. Evidence should be submitted by
    Thursday 12 February 2003. The oral evidence sessions will begin in March.

    In announcing the inquiry, the Chairman of the Committee, Ian Gibson MP,
    said "Journals are at the heart of the scientific process. Researchers,
    teachers and students must have easy access to scientific publications at
    a fair price. Scientific journals need to maintain their credibility and
    integrity as they move into the age of e-publication. The Committee will
    have some very tough questions for publishers, libraries and government on
    these issues."

    Evidence should be sent in hard copy to the Clerk of the Science and
    Technology Committee, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA. Please send an
    electronic version also, in Word format, via e-mail to or on disk. Guidance on the submission of
    evidence can be found at

    Further information on the work of the Committee can be obtained from
    Committee staff on 020 7219 2793/4.

    Previous press notices and publications are available on the Committee's
    internet homepage:

    Notes for Editors

    * Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Committee is empowered to
    examine the Aexpenditure, policy and administration of the Office of
    Science and Technology and its associated public bodies@. The Committee
    was appointed on 12 November 2001.

    December 1, 2003

    Neurobiology of Lipids - Peer-reviewed, Open Access

    :: Neurobiology of Lipids is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, published out of Moscow. More information is available here. The editorial board has 32 members, and one can link to each member's articles as indexed in PubMed.

    :: Today's homepage comes from the University of Minnesota's Science & Engineering Library - Sciweb.

    November 22, 2003

    Transportation Journal Scores Highest Percent Increase in Total Citations In Engineering

    :: The November, 2003, issue of inCites reports that the journal with the largest percent increase in total citations in the field of engineering is Transportation Research Part C – Emerging Technologies.

    November 17, 2003

    Cornell and Other Universities to Cancel Elsevier Titles

    :: Continuing the previous thread, Information Today has issued an article called "Cornell and Other University Libraries to Cancel Elsevier Titles", by Paula J Hane. Subscription costs to scholarly journals continue to rise beyond what academic libraries are able to reasonably afford. ARL statistics for the period of 1986-2001 show that while serial unit costs rose by 215%, the Consumer Price Index for the same period rose only 62%, and the number of serials purchases decreased by 5%. Cornell provides a list of 200 Elsevier titles targeted for cancellation in 2004. Harvard is planning a similar cancellation project.

    How much longer can libraries continue to sustain such large annual subscription price increases from the largest for-profit scholarly publishing companies? According to the article, some universities are strongly urging their faculty members to publish elsewhere:

      The Academic Senate at UC Santa Cruz recently passed a resolution demanding reasonable rates and urging faculty “to seriously consider cutting ties with Elsevier by refusing to sit on its boards, referee its journals, and submit papers to the publisher.” UCSC currently spends half of its budget for online journals on its subscription to ScienceDirect Online from Elsevier.

    November 14, 2003

    Cornell's Statement on its Decision Regarding Elsevier

    :: Cornell has put together a web page called "Issues in Scholarly Communication." They describe their predicament with Elsevier and their decision to drop "several hundred" Elsevier journals after not reaching an amicable agreement.

    November 11, 2003

    BioOne - Two Years Later

    :: BioOne, an "aggregation of high-impact bioscience research journals", began operation in April, 2001. In this article, in the v 64 n10, November, 2003 issue of College & Research Libraries News, Heather Joseph and Adrian W Alexander examine how far the initiative has come since its inception, and consider BioOne's future challenges.

    October 28, 2003

    PLoS Interview

    :: Laura Lynch of Creative Commons interviews Michael Eisen about the launch of the new open-access peer-reviewed journal, PLoS Biology.

    October 23, 2003

    Call for Boycott of Cell Press Journals

    :: A call for a boycott of Cell Press Journals has been written by two important researchers from UCalifornia San Francisco, Peter Walter and Keith Yamamoto. The call to boycott has made it to the SPARC-OAForum and is being republished on blogs, such as -=(In Between)=-. So far, I have found one response to their plea, from Stevan Harnad, U Southampton, UK.

    Here is the text of their letter:

    Continue reading "Call for Boycott of Cell Press Journals" »

    October 18, 2003

    PLoS Biology Makes Major Impact On Its First Day

    :: On Oct 13, 2003, the first day of online availability to the world, the new open-access journal PLoS Biology had already had a dramatic impact in scholarly publishing. As reported in The Mercury News, a research article by Duke University scientists Miguel Nicolelis, Jose Carmena and seven others, caused a stir:

      Duke University researchers Miguel Nicolelis and Jose Carmena reported that they had successfully trained monkeys with brain implants to move a robot arm with their thoughts -- a key advance by researchers who hope one day to allow paralyzed people to perform similar tasks.
    In the hours following the posting of the article, the PLoS servers crashed, with the article having received half a million hits and 80,000 downloads:
      By Monday morning, the Duke paper was rendered inaccessible by a crush of traffic from interested readers that crashed the Public Library's servers. The site received 500,000 hits in the hours immediately after the paper was posted and some 80,000 downloads occurred, prompted by worldwide media coverage.

      "Nothing else has ever argued so strongly for open-access publishing,'' said Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher Michael Eisen, who co-founded the nonprofit organization along with Nobel laureate Harold Varmus and Stanford University biochemist Patrick Brown.

    It will be fascinating to see what impact, if any, PLoS Biology will have on the scholarly publishing world. (With thanks to Terry Donovan for bringing this to my attention.

    :: BTW, please note the times I've posted recently are incorrect, off anywhere from 6-8 hours into the future. I don't know yet how to fix the problem.

    October 15, 2003

    PLoS Biology Is In The House, China Is In Space

    :: PLoS Biology, "the premier open-access journal published by the Public Library of Science", made its debut yesterday. PLoS "is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource." The first issue is v1 n1, October 2003. What's cutting edge about PLoS Biology, of course, is that all works published within are open access, available without cost to anyone, anywhere, who wishes to read or download for their own use. The PLoS Open-Access License provides more detail.

    The appearance of this peer-reviewed, scholarly journal marks the beginning of a new era in scholarly publication, one in which a research journal of the highest quality and standards is made available without cost to the reader. It remains to be seen what the long term effects will be, and whether or not any impact will be felt in the for-profit scholarly publishing business.

    :: China became the third country to send a human into space, as it launched its first manned mission this evening (9:00 pm EDT). The "taikonaut" is named Yang Li Wei, and he will be in space for 21 hours.