Library Journal "Digital Libraries" Columns 1997-2007, Roy Tennant
Please note: these columns are an archive of my Library Journal column from 1997-2007. They have not been altered in content, so please keep in mind some of this content will be out of date.
The current system of scholarly communication is in need of major changes. Journal price increases have been so dramatic and devastating that faculty who typically don't know or care about library expenditures are now front and center in the battle to change the dominant paradigm. Simply put, this model is: faculty and researchers at universities, many of which are public institutions, create most scientific and academic journal literature. Faculty typically publish articles with commercial publishers for no compensation (in many cases they even pay to publish). Once published, the research and scholarship of their faculty are licensed by libraries from the commercial publishers, often at top dollar. For example, the libraries of the University of California (UC) system collectively spend 50 cents per second on journals from the top four science, technology, and medical journal publishers, or $79 per student per year. Did the commercial publisher add value? Sure, in most cases. Is that value worth the cost? Increasingly, faculty, librarians, and others say no. The movement In May 2000, a large group of high-level university administrators and librarians met in Tempe, AZ, and agreed to a set of "Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing." It was a line in the sand, drawn by those determined to change a "system of scholarly publishing [that] has become too costly for the academic community to sustain." Every revolution must have its leaders, and this one is no different. One dominant figure is Stevan Harnad, who has written on this topic for years. His discussion list, the September 1998 American Scientist Forum, is his main vehicle for his strongly held views on open access to scholarly literature. Another key personality is Peter Suber, who manages the SPARC Open Access Newsletter and previously ran a Free Online Scholarship bulletin board. Others include Harold Varmus and Michael Eisen of the Public Library of Science (PloS). Models and exemplars One of the earliest (1995) and most well-developed e-journal platforms is HighWire Press at Stanford University. HighWire has a large (337) stable of mostly scientific and medical peer-reviewed journals, which it supports with a robust and full-featured publishing platform called Bench>Press. The HighWire model is one of fee-for-service, with many of the journals using the HighWire service to charge subscription fees. However, there are some open-access e-journals at HighWire, and they also offer a "moving wall" for most journals wherein older issues become open access. The Berkeley Electronic Press ("bepress") offers another commercial system for open journals. Its EdiKit system also takes papers from submission through the peer-review process, but the end product is usually articles in Adobe Acrobat, although it can accommodate HTML. Again, the model here is fee-for-service, with a number of the journals charging subscription fees. PLoS, also aimed at creating a production-grade online publishing system, has a very different model. With a $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, PLoS intends to make the full contents of all its journals freely available. Its first journal (PLoS Biology) is due this month. Its economic model is based on charging authors for publication, although an author's inability to pay "will never be a consideration in the decision whether to publish." UC's eScholarship Repository will launch its first journal around the same time, supported by the same bepress EdiKit system that is behind the non-peer-reviewed content of the eScholarship Repository. In this model, the institution supports the infrastructure that makes online publication possible, with faculty and researchers from UC institutions and elsewhere providing the oversight and professional expertise. For those wanting to go it alone, the Open Journal System (OJS) offers a free, open source solution for journal publication. A full-featured online peer-review system from the Public Knowledge Project at the University of British Columbia, OJS seeks to lower dramatically the barrier to those wishing to start new publications. Will the paradigm shift? More about journal management systems--as well as other resources--are listed in the link list with the online version of this column. Be aware that some systems may no longer be active. You can keep up with the open-access e-journal movement through the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, the September 1998 American Scientist Forum, and the SPARC web site. To find out what open-access journals are available, see the Directory of Open Access Journals. It's too early to tell what impact the open-access revolution will have on the dominant paradigm. But the breadth and depth of the movement is impressive. Although the revolution has not yet succeeded in all of its goals, it is gaining enough ground that one can envision the toppling of the current system--unimaginable even a few years ago. Link List Bench>Press benchpress.highwire.org bepress bepress.com Bibliography and Summary: Electronic Peer Review Management spo.umdl.umich.edu/monthly /peerreview.html Directory of Open Access Journals www.doaj.org eScholarship Repository Peer-Reviewed Content repositories.cdlib.org/ escholarship/peer_review_list.html HighWire highwire.stanford.edu Journal Management Systems www.arl.org/sparc/core/ index.asp?page=h16#journals Open Journal Systems www.pkp.ubc.ca/ojs/ Public Library of Science plos.org September 1998 American Scientist Forum amsci-forum.amsci.org/archives /september98-forum.html SPARC www.arl.org/sparc SPARC Open Access Newsletter www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos Tempe Principles www.arl.org/scomm/tempe.html Tools and Resources for Online Journal Editing and Publishing www.library.unr.edu/ejournals /editors.html Web-Based Journal Manuscript Management and Peer-Review Software and Systems konstanza.emeraldinsight.com/ vl=5128433/cl=21/fm=html/nw=1/rpsv/cw /mcb/07419058/v19n7/s7003/p3l