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ICSTI: news items

  • To: epc@iucr.org
  • Subject: ICSTI: news items
  • From: Pete Strickland <ps@iucr.org>
  • Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 12:49:56 +0000
  • Organization: IUCr
Subject: Study on socio-economic impacts of scientific information

The International Council for Scientific and Technical Information 
(ICSTI) commissioned a study to identify impacts of scientific, 
technical and medical information (STM) services on the 
knowledge-based economy, and to describe the role of STM information 
organizations in national innovation systems.

To register for free access to the study entitled The Information
Imperative: A Framework for Measuring Impacts of STM Information 
Services and STM Information Organizations, visit the ICSTI web site 
at http://www.icsti.org/study.php <http://www.icsti.org/study.php> .

Presented at an ICSTI public conference in May 2003, the study 
identifies areas where STM information organizations provide value to 
society and offers a generic framework for measuring key 
socio-economic impacts. STM organizations will find useful guidelines 
for planning and carrying out their own impact assessments. The 
proceedings of the conference, published in ICSTI Forum, number 43, 
are also available free on the ICSTI site.

For more information on the study, please contact Barry Mahon, 
Executive Director, ICSTI at icsti@icsti.org 
Subject: WSIS Discussions on Open Access

Those of you interested/involved in the forthcoming World Summit on 
the Information Society (WSIS) may be interested to read the report 
concerning the fight to get the words 'Open Access' into the final 
document for the Summit. The report by Francis Muguet, the chair of 
the Scientific Information Working Group for WSIS, follows the recent 
PrepCom3 for WSIS.

It is available at:


The composition of the Working Group is

Dr. Francis Muguet - muguet@ensta.fr

Dr. R. Stephen Berry (berry@uchicago.edu)
Dr. Jonathan Cave (cave@rand.org)
Dr. Jean-Claude Guédon (jean.claude.guedon@umontreal.ca)
Dr. Shu-Kun Lin,MDPI (lin@mdpi.org)
(currently there are Eight Nobel Prize winners in the editorial boards 
of MDPI Open Access Journals)
Dr.Peter Suber (peters@earlham.edu)
Sinikka Sipilä (Sinikka.Sipila@fla.fi)
Dr. Graeme Johanson (Graeme.Johanson@sims.monash.edu.au)

Dr. Robert F. Curl, 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (rfcurl@rice.edu)
Dr. Richard R. Ernst,1991 Nobel Prize in Chemistry 
Dr. Yuan-Tseh Lee, 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry 
Dr Yuri Bushuev, ISUCT (bushuev@isuct.ru)
Dr. Rafael Capurro, ICIE (capurro@hdm-stuttgart.de)
Dr. Stevan Harnad, Open Archives Initiative, Eprints 
Bruno Oudet, French Delegation (Bruno.Oudet@imag.fr)
Dr. Jerome Reichmann (reichman@law.duke.edu)
Subject: Wellcome Report, summary available

You will all presumably have seen or heard of a recently released 
report by
the (UK) Wellcome Foundation on Economic analysis of scientific 

If you have not the report is available from:

The Executive Summary is as follows.

Executive summary
Implications of current practice for the research community
1. The current market structure does not operate in the long-term 
interests of the research community.
2. Commercial publishers are dominant though many top journals are 
published by not-for-profit organizations. 

3. The  public good  element of scientific work means market solutions 
are inefficient. 

4. Electronic publishing is not currently challenging the dominance of 
commercial publishers. 

Why are commercial publishers dominant? Demand 
5. Demand is price-inelastic because: 
    * price is unimportant at point of use for the research community;       
    * journals are not easily substitutable for each other. 

6. Libraries operate in the commercial market and purchase up to their 
budget limits.
7. Other sources of demand, such as private companies and health 
services, are uncoordinated. 

Why are commercial publishers dominant? Supply
8. Authors face a limited number of journals, through which their work 
is  purchased . The primary concerns of authors are the reputation 
and reach of the journal. In general, authors are not concerned with 
price and cost characteristics. There is also a limited amount of 
substitutability between journals for authors when offering their 
work for publication.
9. Journals are published by not-for-profit publishers and commercial 
publishers   institutions with different objectives and modes of 

10. All publishers, including commercial publishers, provide authors 
and editorial boards with the services and outputs they need. 

Why are commercial publishers dominant? Market behaviour
11. The market can be characterized as having two interlinked parts: 
an academic market and a commercial market. They operate according to 
different rules and priorities. The academic market operates with 
little recognition of the existence of the commercial market. The 
commercial market attempts to manage the academic market.
12. Commercial publishers are currently more active than other 
institutions in operating in both markets. They attempt to control 
supply in the commercial market through mergers/takeovers and to 
manage demand through price and service to libraries. The commercial 
publishers have set up price-service packages which enhance their 
position and undermine the position of the not-for-profit sector. A 
major example of this   the  big deal    in effect requires libraries 
to take more journals than they might otherwise choose from the 
commercial publishers. The limits on the libraries  abilities to 
change the package in the  big deal  result in cuts in subscriptions 
to journals from other publishers whenever the libraries face 
financial constraints. A further implication of these arrangements is 
that citations to the commercial publishers  journals are likely to 
increase, at the expense of the not-for-profit sector, thus 
increasing the apparent value of those journals.
13. The commercial publishers offer good service and speed to the 
academic market and many academics are currently largely unaware and 
unconcerned about the state of scientific publishing.

The importance of electronics 
14. Electronic publishing provides speed and access to readers which 
is an important characteristic in scientific, technical and medical 

15. Electronic delivery removes some barriers to entry on the supply 
side thus making it easier for new suppliers to enter the market. The 
threat of entry acts as a constraint on the behaviour of companies 
currently in the market. Some actual market entry has taken place 
particularly through SPARC. 

16. Electronic journals are likely to challenge paper-only journals 
since they are popular with academics-as-users and carry lower fixed 
costs than paper journals. The acceptability of electronic journals 
to academics-as-authors is less clear at present. 

17. The control of electronic access is a major issue currently being 
faced. The use of open archives and the ownership of copyright have 
significant implications for the control of access. 

The current position 
18. Commercial publishers are providing a high-quality, high-price 
service, with restrictions placed on ease of access through policies 
such as the  big deal . 

19. Learned societies have been limited in their responses by their 
objectives, which restrict them to the areas in which they can work, 
and their perception that the commercial sector is not threatening 
the work of the societies. 

20. On the demand side, SPARC and others, including the not-for-profit 
sector, have promoted open archives and page charges for publishing 
as ways of capturing the potential of electronic publication and 
maintaining the economic viability of publishers in general. 

21. A key issue relates to the problem of achieving what many see as a 
desirable outcome   open archives and page charges   from a position 
where, for academics, publication is apparently free. 

What will happen? 
22. The existence of the means to create significant change does not 
mean change will occur. The fact that electronic media exist has 
implications for the market. It is up to the players in the market to 
decide how they will use the means at their disposal. The dominance 
of the commercial publishers will be challenged only if other players 
use the opportunities available to them. 

The main players 
23. Each of the main players have different objectives and different 
ways of working. They have different expectations of what the market 
will deliver for them and what their obligations to the market are. 
Each of them can be influenced in different ways. The main players 
    * the commercial publishers; 
    * the not-for-profit sector; 
    * research libraries; 
    * academic researchers; 
    * library and research funders. 

(We have not included government in the list because their interest is 
likely to be dominated by the competitive position of the sector as a 

The future? 
24. This report sets out a number of possible scenarios each of which 
is plausible and depends upon different reactions from, and 
interactions between, the key players: 
    * more of the same; 
    * commercial withdrawal; 
    * commercial publishers gain more control; 
    * open access becomes dominant. 

25. Research funding organizations could intervene in different ways 
to make one, or a combination, of the scenarios more likely. 
Interventions which influence the key players will change the 
scenarios or increase the likelihood of one over another. Our 
suggestions, which are not exhaustive, cover the main areas in which 
we believe activity may be influential and aim at changing the 
balance of power not restructuring the whole market. Research funding 
organizations could: 
    * set out their position clearly, or make public their concerns or 
    * support different ways of funding publications, particularly 
      electronic page charges, through research grants; 
    * provide support to the open archives initiatives; 
    * actively support open access and the retention of copyright by 
      authors and institutions; 
    * coordinate, or suggest the setting up of a coordinating 
      mechanism for, responses from the different funding bodies in 
      the UK, Europe and, to the extent possible, worldwide; 
    * coordinate, or suggest the setting up of a coordinating 
      mechanism for, non-library demand for journals from private 
      sector companies such as pharmaceutical companies or 
      biotechnology companies and from health services; 
    * provide support to publishers from the not-for-profit sector, 
      for example pump priming funds for electronic archives; 
    * support the setting up of not-for-profit  big deals  to protect 
      the not-for-profit publishers; 
    * support   perhaps endow   the setting up of a central electronic 
      deposit library; 
    * exert pressure to recognize electronic journals in bibliometric 
      assessments and impact factors.


Best wishes

Peter Strickland
Managing Editor
IUCr Journals

IUCr Editorial Office, 5 Abbey Square, Chester CH1 2HU, England
Phone: 44 1244 342878   Fax: 44 1244 314888   Email: ps@iucr.org
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