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Blackwell Publishing: Journal Newsletter - Issue 4

  • To: epc@iucr.org
  • Subject: Blackwell Publishing: Journal Newsletter - Issue 4
  • From: Pete Strickland <ps@iucr.org>
  • Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 09:13:09 +0100
  • Organization: IUCr
Blackwell Publishing Journal News
April 2004 - Number 4
In this issue there are three items on Open Access which reflects the 
ongoing interest in the subject.  The Washington D.C. Principles 
should be of particular interest to society officers.  There is also 
a summary of some of the progress we are making in improving 
availability of journals in the Developing World.  Suggestions from 
readers are always welcome; this is still a relatively new service 
and we appreciate any feedback.

Providing Free Access to Research in the Developing World
The disparity in access to high quality scientific, medical and social 
science research between the developed and developing world is shown 
to be closely tied to the gap in wealth and health between peoples.  
The 'digital divide', as it is known, certainly has not helped to 
close the gap.  Many of the organizations for which we publish are 
acutely aware of this divide and the potential of peer-reviewed 
research for engendering change.  For this reason, Blackwell 
Publishing has been an active participant in a number of initiatives 
to make online journals available for free or at a greatly reduced 
price to countries that are traditionally not able to afford many 
print subscriptions. 
With the latest information and scientific evidence accessible to 
low-income countries, policy-makers, professors, scientists, and 
doctors will be better able to find solutions to issues of poverty, 
health, education and the environment.  In addition, increased access 
to current research should lead to greater participation by 
scientists from the developing world in the global debate on any 
number of topics.  By keeping up with current findings and research 
techniques, and through updated teaching curricula, there are 
increased opportunities for papers originating in the developing 
world to reach a global audience.
For many years, Blackwell has offered deep discounts to developing 
world libraries for subscriptions to print journals.  However, 
problems with funding and delivery meant that very few were able to 
take advantage of this.  Online journals, and their low distribution 
costs, have changed all this.  We can now open access to e-journals 
in any site anywhere through Blackwell Synergy.  There are, of 
course, still challenges to surmount, though the nature of these has 
changed from postal problems to issues of hardware, bandwidth and 
internet infrastructure.  There are many initiatives underway 
throughout the world to tackle these access issues, and we are glad 
to be able to contribute by making the research itself available.
For more information on each of the Developing World initiatives, 
including the International Network for the Availability of 
Scientific Publications (Bob Campbell, Blackwell Publishing's 
President, is also the Chairman of INASP), and those associated with 
the WHO and FAO, visit: 

Open Access/Pay to Publish Debate Rages On
The Open Access debate continues on numerous fronts.  It dominates the 
library e-mail discussions and has been the subject of many 
conferences.  Within a circle of Open Access evangelists, analysts 
and consultants, and amongst the library and publishing cognoscenti, 
the subject is high on the agenda.  In contrast with this, it does 
not yet seem to have caught the attention of the majority of journal 
authors, perhaps because it is less attractive to them.
In the UK, the issues are being explored by the House of Commons 
Science and Technology Select Committee in an inquiry on scientific 
publications.  Bob Campbell, President of Blackwell Publishing, sat 
on a panel of publishers to give evidence to the Select Committee on 
1st March 2004.  This was an opportunity to draw attention to the 
tremendous increase in access that has been provided by online 
publishing and the use of consortia licenses.  The Members of 
Parliament were also keen to hear about Blackwell's work with the 
World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation 
to improve access in the developing world through the HINARI and 
AGORA programmes.  
For Blackwell's submission visit 
http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/docs/House_commons.doc For a 
transcript of the proceedings visit 
The committee will report its recommendations to the government at the 
end of the summer. The two author-pays publishers have been lobbying 
hard in hopes that the committee will suggest that grants include 
funding (say 1% of the grant) to pay for publication.
The BBC picked up the item and interviewed Bob Campbell and Harold 
Varmus from the Public Library of Science on the Today programme a 
week later.  The debate again focused on the breadth of access 
provided by the current publishing system.  Bob also made the point, 
contested by Harold Varmus, that a system paid for by readers will 
tend to favour the effective filtering of content and maintain high 
quality, whereas a system funded by authors will tend to favour the 
authors but exclude those that do not have the funding to pay the 
publication charges.  
For a transcript of the Today programme visit 

Washington D.C. Principles for Free Access to Science
On 16th March 2004 a group of 49 societies and not-for-profit 
publishers (largely North American) issued a statement affirming 
their commitment to broad access to the scientific and medical 
literature.  The free access signatories represented 600,000 members 
and 380 journals that offer 800,000 articles online, of which 447,000 
are free. 
The essential points were:
1.	commitment to innovation and wide dissemination 
2.	mission to maintain independence, vigour, trust and visibility that 
have established journals as reliable filters of research information 
3.	reinvest revenues in support of science (meetings, education, 
publishing etc) 
4.	free access: 
a.	selected important articles are free online from publication 
b.	full text is free within months of publication 
c.	content is free in many low-income nations 
d.	articles are free online through reference linking 
e.	content is available for search engines 
5.	continue to work to develop long-term preservation solutions for 
online journals 
6.	support principle that publication fees should not be borne solely 
by research organizations; ability to publish should be equally 
available to all scientists 
7.	a free society should allow the co-existence of many publishing 
At the end of March, Martin Frank (Executive Director of the American 
Physiological Society) invited other organizations to join the 
coalition in support of the principles.  He believes that the 
principles provide the "middle ground" in the increasingly heated 
debate between those who advocate immediate unfettered online access 
and advocates of the current journal publishing system.  He explained 
that the document was drafted in response to recent claims that these 
publishers' practices hinder the public's ability to access published 
scientific research.
Open Access Funding Award for UK Crystallographers
The International Union of Crystallography, a society for whom 
Blackwell publishes, is pursuing an experiment with open access 
publishing.  The IUCr has been awarded funding from the Joint 
Information Systems Committee (JISC) to support open-access delivery 
of its journals, Acta Crystallographica Sections A-E, Journal of 
Applied Crystallography and Journal of Synchrotron Radiation, via its 
Crystallography Journals Online service. 
The award will mean the waiving of open-access publication charges for 
UK higher education staff who publish in these journals for a 
one-year period from 1 March 2004.  This will make UK research more 
visible worldwide, assisted by the international standing of IUCr 
journals.  From the beginning of 2004, authors publishing papers in 
IUCr journals have been given the opportunity to make their papers 
open access on Crystallography Journals Online, i.e. free of charge 
to all readers.  Open-access papers will appear alongside standard 
subscriber-only papers for the foreseeable future.
JISC is a committee of all UK further and higher education funding 
bodies, and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of 
information and communication technology to support learning, 
teaching and research.  In December 2003, publishers were invited to 
tender for open-access funding of £150,000, the first round in a 
three-year programme designed to encourage as much open-access 
delivery of research findings as possible.  The IUCr is one of four 
publishers to have made successful bids for this funding, the other 
three beneficiaries being the Public Library of Science (PLoS, for 
PLoS Biology), Institute of Physics Publishing (New Journal of 
Physics) and Lancaster University (Journal of Experimental Botany).
For more information about the IUCr's open-access policy visit 
All about Online - COUNTER Usage Statistics
As you know, the use of online journals and other information 
resources is growing exponentially. It is widely agreed by publishers 
and librarians that the use of these resources should be measured in 
a consistent way. Librarians want to understand better how the 
information they buy from a variety of sources is being used, and 
publishers want to know how the information products they disseminate 
are being accessed. 
The COUNTER project (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic 
Resources) brought publishers, librarians and intermediaries together 
to create an agreed international Code of Practice governing the 
recording and exchange of online usage data. COUNTER was formally 
incorporated in England as a not-for-profit company, Counter Online 
Metrics in 2003. The International Advisory Board of COUNTER consists 
of leading experts from the publishing, library and intermediary 
world. It is supported by the main publishing organisations as well 
as ARL, Association of Research Libraries; JISC, Joint Information 
Systems Committee; NCLIS, National Commission on Libraries and 
Information Science; NISO, National Information Standards 
Organization; and UKSG, United Kingdom Serials Group.
COUNTER is a good example of a responsible publishing sector working 
closely with the library community to create common standards. As a 
result of COUNTER, librarians can get accurate and comparable usage 
data from any of the participating publishers, including Blackwell, 
who incidentally were the first publishers to become 
COUNTER-compliant back in April 2003, Elsevier, Nature and Wiley. 
As a word of warning, BioMedCentral has so far chosen not to join 
COUNTER so there is no independent verification of any claims that 
they might make about usage of their content.
For more information, visit http://www.projectcounter.org/
Library Advisory Board Meet Again
In order to help inform our publishing and sales strategies, we call 
upon the advice and feedback from our international Library Advisory 
Board made up of 25 librarians and consortia officers from academic 
and corporate institutions.  We have held two LAB meetings in the 
first part of this year; one in San Diego alongside the American 
Library Association meeting in January, and one in Melbourne 
alongside the Victorian Association of Library Automation meeting in 
February.  Both meetings were well attended, full of lively and 
useful discussion, and we received very good feedback from attendees:
"I would like to thank you, your staff and Blackwell for affording us 
the opportunity to express our views. It is heartening to see 
publishers undertaking this type of focus group activity."
Jocelyn Priddey, Senior Manager, Collection Development, University of 
"Opportunity to contribute much appreciated and any critical comment 
was simply based on a genuine desire to help to make a good service 
even better."
Neil Renison, Librarian (Acquisitions Services), Information 
Resources, James Cook University
The meetings involved discussions of: 
*         preferred future pricing models for library consortia 
including for online only journals and back volumes; 
*         policies for handling journals joining and leaving publisher 
*         implications of purchasing journals based on usage; 
*         potential demand for e-books;
*         perceptions of Blackwell's service to the library community.  
The overriding message we picked up from the librarians was that they 
want more flexibility in the way that they buy both print and online 
journals with a variety of options available to suit the budgetary, 
research and format needs of their institutions.
What Authors Want
Last year Blackwell Publishing commissioned Key Perspectives to carry 
out a study of the attitudes and opinions of journal contributing 
authors on various publishing issues.  1800 email invitations to 
respond were sent to Blackwell journal authors.  413 (23%) responded.
The results overall were encouraging.  For example, 88% of journal 
authors considered the Blackwell journal they published in to be 
"excellent" or "good", and over 80% considered Blackwell to have good 
expertise in their field and to operate to high professional 
The question on factors of importance when authors are choosing where 
to publish gave "reputation of the journal" as top, "quality of 
content" second, and "quality of peer review" equal third with "speed 
of publication".  "Impact factor" surprisingly only came seventh 
although with some variation between subjects:  higher in dermatology 
and economics, lower in ecology and nursing.  "Price", "value for 
money" "copyright and contract issues" came last.
Examination of the comments revealed that by "speed of publication" 
most respondents meant speed of peer review.  The quality of the peer 
review procedure also featured highly.  
Our conclusion was that outside the reputation of the journal (which 
cannot be improved overnight) the area where we need to work most to 
attract authors is not surprisingly "author care": giving authors a 
decision quickly and keeping them informed of progress.  As 
publishers we are dependent on the performance of the editorial 
office for this and are developing a range of services to support 
this effort.
Databases and Cannibalization
Blackwell Publishing licenses journal content to third party 
databases, like EBSCO Publishing, with the understanding that this 
helps  to reach more unique customers and readers beyond the 
journals' core subscription base.  EBSCO Publishing is strong in the 
U.S. schools and college market and their association with the SOROS 
Foundation has given them good reach into Eastern Europe and the 
Developing World.  They also serve the academic library market, 
however, and in order to avoid cannibalization of core subscriptions, 
we have differentiated the EBSCO Publishing offering by putting a 
12-month embargo on all articles.
Rick Anderson is Director of Resource Acquisition at the University of 
Nevada, Reno, Libraries, and a member of Blackwell Publishing's 
Library Advisory Board.  Rick recently posted the following e-mail to 
the library community, explaining his view of aggregated databases 
(e.g. EBSCO Publishing).  This supports our position that the 
judicious licensing of journal content should not lead to the 
substitution of core subscriptions.
"Even when unreliable access costs money, most libraries are still 
willing to buy it, as long as the cost is low enough; that's the 
premise on which many aggregated databases (which provide access to 
thousands of journals and magazines at a very low per-title cost) are 
founded.  While I expect my access to the database itself to be 
reliable, I recognize that the low per-title charge means a 
trade-off: ongoing access to any particular title is not guaranteed. 
But that's fine with my library because we don't think of the 
aggregator as a robust source for any particular title; we use it as 
a big bag of articles that primarily supports low-intensity 
undergraduate research.  When we want reliable access to particular 
titles, we pay more (usually directly to the publishers) and get some 
level of guaranteed access in return."
- Posted to Liblicense, 20th February 2004
Blackwell Publishing Acquires BMJ Books
On 8th April 2004, Blackwell Publishing finalized the purchase of BMJ 
Books, the book-publishing arm of the British Medical Journal 
Publishing Group.  Each year, Blackwell publishes over 100 books and 
350 journals in medicine, biomedicine and allied health.  With the 
acquisition of BMJ Books, titles in specialties such as pediatrics, 
accident and emergency medicine, anesthesia and intensive care, 
cardiology, and evidence-based medicine will be added to the 
company's list. 
"Blackwell has a history of providing the medical community with a 
comprehensive collection of high-quality medical books.  The addition 
of BMJ titles only strengthens the scope of Blackwell's service to 
clinicians world-wide, and demonstrates our commitment to growth in 
medical publishing," said René Olivieri, CEO of Blackwell Publishing.   
"As this transfer moves forward, Blackwell will further the high 
service standards set by BMJ, reinforcing the strength of publishing 
excellence for which Blackwell is known."   
Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal and Chief 
Executive of BMJ Publishing Group Ltd said, "This decision has not 
been easy to make, but it is no longer feasible for us to continue an 
extensive book publishing business.  We have published great books of 
which we are proud, but our cost structure has meant that we could 
not produce the return on the business that we hoped." 
The acquisition of BMJ Books brings 328 additional titles to the 
Blackwell list.  This includes the ABC Series (reference books for 
researchers, clinicians, and health professionals) and a developing 
list of evidence-based textbooks, all of which complement Blackwell's 
existing Lecture Notes, At a Glance, and Blueprints series of books.  
"The BMJ Books list is very impressive and we are delighted to work 
with BMJ Publishing Group to continue production of these quality 
titles," said Andrew Robinson, Director of Medical Publishing for 
Blackwell.  "As the leading society publisher, Blackwell is confident 
that our expertise will help build the BMJ brand in book publishing."  
Titles from BMJ will carry the imprints of both BMJ Books and 
Blackwell Publishing as part of the sales agreement.
Preview of forthcoming topics for Journal News:
*	Editorial best practice - tips for running an editorial office 
*	Editorial best practice - refereeing/peer-review       
*	Trends in consortia buying
*	An overview of the China serials market
*	CrossRef Search details
*	The impact of Google
Do let us know if you have any suggestions for topics to include in 
future issues, or any comments on this issue of Journal News.


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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