Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 714.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
 From: Scott Jaschik <Scott.Jaschik@CHRONICLE.COM> (21)
Subject: online discussion on new model for journal publishing
 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (196)
Subject: [STOA] A Revolutionary Idea in Publishing
 From: email@example.com (Francois Lachance) (59)
Subject: Re: 14.0709 on the Net & AOL Time Warner
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 20:28:11 +0000
From: Scott Jaschik <Scott.Jaschik@CHRONICLE.COM>
Subject: online discussion on new model for journal publishing
The Chronicle of Higher Education is sponsoring a live, online discussion
with Manfredi La Manna, the founder of the Electronic Society for Social
Scientists, about his plan to challenge the dominant model in the
publishing of scholarly journals, on Wednesday, March 7, at noon U.S.
Eastern time. Mr. La Manna, an economist at St. Andrews University in
Scotland, argues that his model will make it possible for libraries to
subscribe to scholarly journals at much lower prices than those charged by
companies today. And at the same time, Mr. La Manna says that his model
will allow authors and peer reviewers to be paid. While these plans are
attracting considerable support from scholars, some of the major publishers
of scholarly journals question the viability of the project and its
assumptions. Mr. La Manna will respond to comments and questions about his
organization's plans and the state of journal publishing in the chat.
The Chronicle invites members of this list to read an article about his
effort and to join the live discussion at:
Advance questions are encouraged, and may be posted now. After the
discussion is over, a transcript will be posted at that address.
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 20:32:38 +0000
Subject: [STOA] A Revolutionary Idea in Publishing
This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education
(http://chronicle.com) was forwarded to you from: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following message was enclosed:
Yet another new model...
From the issue dated March 9, 2001
A Revolutionary Idea in Publishing
By DOUG PAYNE
More than a thousand scholars have lined up behind an economist from St.
Andrews University, in Scotland, who plans on using the Internet and a new
online-publishing model to challenge the dominance of some of the world's
largest academic publishers.
The economist, Manfredi La Manna, says that the plan will produce
peer-reviewed journals at half the price of their commercial counterparts.
An organization that he proposed in November, the Electronic Society for
Social Scientists (http://www.elsss.org.uk), is already making headlines,
and he says it will produce "a definite change in the academic-journal
market within three months."
ELSSS, according to Mr. La Manna, is not a single publication; it is a
concept, or template, for academics worldwide to use to free themselves
from the clutches of what Theodore C. Bergstrom, an economics professor at
the University of California at Santa Barbara, calls "the gougers."
ELSSS has put forward a list of intended publications -- initially in
economics -- that will operate according to strict criteria and be produced
by existing publishers willing to subscribe to ELSSS principles.
Mr. La Manna's model envisions publishers drastically reducing the amount
of profit they seek to make from journals -- with those savings passed on
to institutions in the form of lower subscription prices.
But the man at the helm of Elsevier Science says ELSSS has already missed
the boat with its "somewhat amateur" approach. Derk Haank, the company's
chief executive officer, also says Mr. La Manna and his supporters are
wasting their time: "They are talking old economy. They're attacking a
perceived enemy that left the camp three years ago."
Mr. La Manna, though, is convinced that it's Elsevier and other major
journal publishers, such as Springer-Verlag, that have misread the appetite
among academics for a system in which the intellectual and economic
benefits of their work "will accrue to authors, referees, editors, and the
academic community at large." Elsevier Science is part of Reed Elsevier, a
multinational publishing company; Springer-Verlag is part of Bertelsmann A.
G., the German media conglomerate.
St. Andrews has already set up a nonprofit company to develop ELSSS, and
Mr. La Manna has attracted endorsements and support from an international
pool of researchers and scholarly groups willing to help him bring about
what he says will be "a definite change in the academic-journal market
within three months."
In ELSSS, authors and referees will be paid -- which they generally are not
in the traditional scholarly publishing model. Authors would be paid $500,
and referees $200 to $250, depending on the journal. Editors will be
appointed by ELSSS on the basis of nominations by scholars. The process of
submitting, refereeing, and editing papers, and delivering electronic and
print versions, Mr. La Manna says, will be similar to what academics are
used to, "only much better."
Each publication will be peer reviewed, will set high standards for
quality, and will grant copyright to its authors. Electronic versions of
print titles will offer "interactivity, full searchability, and criteria
ELSSS publications must also allow full, free access to libraries and
research centers in developing countries. All ELSSS publications must make
available information on circulation, pricing, remuneration, expenses, and
staffing. "In the longer term," Mr. La Manna says, "I envisage making the
ELSSS template available to any discipline that subscribes to the ELSSS
principles of fair publishing and respect for authorship."
The ELSSS economics journals would be substantially less expensive than
Elsevier's. For example, a college in North America could subscribe to
ELSSS's Review of Banking & Finance for one year for $500, while the ELSSS
Web site says that a subscription to Elsevier's Journal of Banking &
Finance costs $1,066. A European institution could subscribe to ELSSS's
Review of Monetary Economics for $500, while Elsevier's Journal of Monetary
Economics would cost such an institution $1,154, according to the ELSSS Web
Mr. La Manna says ELSSS has "reached and passed critical mass, and I am
actively involved in the next stage" -- raising about $140,000, which he
says will get the project under way.
As a nonprofit organization, ELSSS must rely on philanthropy, "but the
early signs are very positive," he says.
"The ELSSS initiative," Santa Barbara's Mr. Bergstrom says in an e-mail
interview, "seems to be on the right track, and I think its chances are
good. The overpriced journals have already lost our goodwill. As new
markets open up for publishing our work, I think the overpriced journals
are also likely to lose the free labor that we have given them as authors
Mr. La Manna says he worried about journal prices for years before he
decided to start ELSSS. As an economist, he says, he could no longer stand
by and watch libraries slash subscriptions to journals "in the ultimately
vain attempt to accommodate the extortionate journal prices being charged
by some commercial publishers."
"I felt frankly ashamed that a profession devoted to the principles of
efficiency and fairness had allowed this disgraceful state of affairs to
persist," he says.
The opportunity to put theory into practice came serendipitously last year,
when the University of St. Andrews -- jointly with Scottish Enterprise
Fife, a government agency focused on economic development -- introduced a
program offering grants for projects that support innovative ideas in
business and academe. Mr. La Manna won a special six-month sabbatical, and
a small budget, to develop his idea. The university was "extremely
supportive, indeed indispensable," he says.
Colleagues elsewhere, he says, are proving to be equally helpful. Through a
survey on the ELSSS Web site, he has been able to stockpile offers from
academics to serve as authors, referees, and editorial-board members for
various new journals.
ELSSS has also been receiving favorable comment from organizations such as
the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Sponsored by the
Association of Research Libraries, SPARC is a worldwide alliance of
research institutions, libraries, and organizations that encourages
competition in the scholarly communications market.
Rick Johnson, the group's enterprise director, says in an e-mail interview:
"The citizenry is taking up arms. ELSSS provides more evidence that
scholars are ready to take charge of scholarly communication.
"When scholars and scientists realize how commercial interests have
benefited from their labor, and how little say they have about the matter,
they can't help but ask, 'Isn't there a better way?' The answer is yes."
In addition to ELSSS, he cites as an example the online Economics Bulletin
created by John P. Conley, an associate professor of economics at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as an alternative to Elsevier's
Economics. Economics Bulletin started in January and has published only one
paper so far. A directory on its Web site lists 80 registered users around
Another example cited by Mr. Johnson is the Berkeley Electronic Press,
which started publishing eight online journals in business and economics in
December. Access is free. Greg Tananbaum, the company's vice president for
marketing, says that the press does not keep track of the number of
"Each of these new ventures demonstrates a promising new model," says Mr.
Johnson. "They get the wheels of change turning."
But academic support is not without reservation. Andrew Oswald, a professor
of economics at Warwick University, says in an e-mail interview that
"competition in life is good."
"In this area, publishers have been profiting at the expense of
researchers," Mr. Oswald says. But, he cautions, "we already have hundreds
of scholarly journals in economics: My subject, like so many others, is
simply being swept away in a tsunami of them.
"The flow of clear information is now swamped by the muddy water from new
journals that no one reads. Journals are too plentiful; new ideas are as
rare as ever," says Mr. Oswald.
His recommendation? "Every person who wants to start an academic journal
has first to find two that are willing to shut down. That goes for
electronic journals, too. The best would then survive."
Mr. La Manna, though, insists that sound theory underlies ELSSS and its
attack on the inefficiencies built into the current system of scholarly
"Economists especially," the scholar says, "have pointed to the cause of
the inefficiency as a coordination problem. Provided everybody else does
the same, it is optimal for each researcher to boycott high-priced journals
and switch to more efficient alternatives.
"But as everyone expects everyone else to make the first move, the current
inefficient system is not dislodged. My idea was to use the Web to solve
this market failure."
Mr. La Manna maintains that the Web provides not only the opportunity of
contacting thousands of research economists simultaneously, by e-mail, but
also the means -- a Web-based registration mechanism -- to break the
"By registering their interest in a whole range of journals to be produced
according to fairer and more efficient criteria," Mr. La Manna says,
"respondents were put in a win-win situation: If not enough people of high
caliber replied positively, nothing would be lost. But if the response was
large, this would create immediately the reputation and the base of
"Personally, I believed that the dislike of inefficiency is so ingrained in
the economist's mind, that the scheme had a fair chance of success. And, as
they say, the rest is history."
But at his bete noire -- Elsevier Science -- Mr. Haank disagrees. He says
Mr. La Manna and others have their history wrong.
"The higher prices they're talking about are the result of a paper system
that's already well on the way to being replaced by electronic publishing,"
Mr. Haank says. "We are actually widening the customer base. In the new
economy customers are paying [the equivalent of] only a dollar an article,
in many cases. We want an open system, worldwide."
He adds: "We enter into license agreements with libraries at a fixed annual
rate. For the end-user, this can mean free unlimited usage."
Reed Elsevier publishes more than a thousand journals in all major
disciplines. A subsidiary called Elsevier Electronic Subscriptions sells
access to an online database, Elsevier ScienceDirect, that offers the texts
of both Elsevier Science's journals and those of some other publishers.
Arguing that the approach of many of Elsevier's critics smacks of
"religious warfare," Mr. Haank says that economists "would be better served
buying more of our journals, which would help to bring the price down."
"It's ironic that the latest initiative is coming from economists," he
says. In figuring up the costs of ELSSS, he adds, economists aren't adding
in the time they contribute to the project, "much of it paid for by the
"How long can they keep it up? Many of the results are half the price, true
-- but they are also half the size. The cost of the articles to the
subscriber ends up the same. By publishing themselves, the academic
community is only saving our profits, not our costs."
Mr. Haank adds: "One should remember that the total cost of literature for
most universities is about 1 percent of budget. Even allowing for a profit
margin of anything up to 25 percent for us, the real savings might
therefore end up being as little as 0.2 percent of budget. I'm not trying
to plead poverty here, just trying to put this argument into perspective."
Mr. La Manna, for his part, says he remains sanguine about ELSSS's chances
for success. He's surprised at the speed of events, he says, adding that
"signs are looking good."
"I'm absolutely certain it is going to happen. Too many people are now
seriously involved. All you need is the will to put all the pieces together."
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 20:33:15 +0000
From: email@example.com (Francois Lachance)
Subject: Re: 14.0709 on the Net & AOL Time Warner
a trio of questions....
Interesting to see the shift in subject fields as the question raised by
Aimee gets localized into a discussion of the nature of the AOL niche.
It was as I read it a question about an equation and implicity a question
about cultural environments and sustainable intellectual activity.
14.0706 the Net = AOL Time Warner?
14.0709 on the Net & AOL Time Warner
Aimee's subject line seems to recognize a plurality of nets. That subject
field has the value : "net == AOL Time Warner?" Plural not only in number
but also in character. The string could be parsed as "is AOL Time Warner a
net?" especially if one considers that Cyperspace is bigger than the
Internet and that is bigger than the Web. I wonder if anyone has done an
analysis on the apparent shift from refering to the "Internet" to the
"net" tout court.
I wonder if you had any thoughts on cyberculture and the "deep reading"
habits that Gregory Crane focuses upon (see a recent posting by Arun
Tripathi). Are they antithetical as so much commentary seems to imply?
I did a quick search to see if any one may have applied culture theory as
developed by Mary Douglas to the Web or to the Internet and came across...
An Ethnography of the Usenet Computer Network
Unfortunately as Jones reports:
The working title (and ostensible topic) of my dissertation was A Social
Constructivist History of Usenet. While I maintain an interest in the
history of communication technologies and the specific history of Usenet,
I have a real job and therefore no time nor interest in finishing a PhD
that would not take me anywhere.
> I also remember Jim O'Donnell saying, in essence, let it get
> commercialized. It will
> drive a demand for bandwidth, and that will benefit all of us.
Do you recall anyone reasoning out the "more is better" connection between
bandwidth and benefit?
For the rest of us,
Worth remembering the source of the information on AOL-Time Warner reach
Jupiter Media Metrix provides audience measurement products and services
to media companies, Internet advertisers and advertising agencies,
Internet properties, technology companies and financial institutions. For
the fiscal year ended 12/31/00, revenues totaled $77.8 million, up from
$20.5 million. Net loss applicable to Common rose from $22 million to
$63.3 million. Revenues reflect an increase in the number of customers.
Higher loss reflects increased amortization of intangibles.
Jupiter Media Metrix collects Internet audience data by measuring Internet
usage from representative samples, or panels, of personal computer users
with its proprietary tracking technology.
a blackbox indeed!
Thanks Aimee for provoking a bit of cross-reference checking.
-- Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance Member of the Evelyn Letters Project http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~dchamber/evelyn/evtoc.htm
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