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Jan/Feb issue of Journal News

  • To: epc@iucr.org
  • Subject: Jan/Feb issue of Journal News
  • From: Pete Strickland <ps@iucr.org>
  • Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005 08:49:38 +0000
  • Organization: IUCr
Dear All

There are some interesting articles in this issue of Blackwell Publishing 
Journal News.

Best wishes
Peter

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 

2005 has started well with annual reports for 2004 showing significant 
increases in circulation and usage (downloads) and our list of journals 
growing to 755 titles.

 

Open access has maintained high profile with the NIH's Public Access Policy 
announced at last and in the UK the House of Commons Select Committee on 
Science & Technology still complaining about the Government's response to its 
report on scientific publications.

 

Google Scholar has been another interesting development.  We have covered 
Google in two pieces below and we shall no doubt be reporting again on this 
popular and influential search engine.

 

Along with the many meetings we hold with societies we have started a series 
of executive seminars for editors and society officers.  The most recent 
seminar attracted 74 attendees and an overview of the agenda is provided 
below.

 

Bob Campbell

President, Blackwell Publishing

 

 

 

NIH Policy on Enhancing Public Access to NIH-funded Research

 

After canceling an announcement on new policy scheduled for January 11, 2005, 
the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Elias Zerhouni, 
finally issued the policy for public access on February 3, 2005 in the NIH 
Guide to Grants and Contracts: 
http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-05-022.html

 

The main points are listed below.

 

*         The policy asks authors of NIH supported research to voluntarily 
submit the author version of the peer-reviewed, accepted manuscript to 
PubMedCentral for release within 12 months from the publication date.  

 

*         The author's copy in PubMedCentral will link back to the publisher's 
copy.  Publishers can send the finished publisher version to supersede the 
author version in PubMedCentral. 

 

*         There will be no penalty for authors not complying with the NIH 
policy.  Author compliance will be tracked in order to evaluate the policy.

 

*         NIH will consider copyright issues and ask its authors to make sure 
copyrights allow deposit of manuscripts in PubMedCentral.  (On the NIH Public 
Access page, authors will be given information about posting manuscripts on 
PubMedCentral and implications for copyright.)

 

*         The Board of Regents of the NLM will create a Public Access Working 
Group to consider and advise NIH on progress in meeting the policy goals.

 

The big issue was the length of the embargo.  In an earlier interview Dr. 
Zerhouni had mentioned 6 months but after consulting with publishers and 
major societies (and thanks to the lobbying from many societies) he moved to 
12 months.  To quote, however, from his email to researchers:  "NIH expects 
that only in limited cases will authors deem it necessary to select the 
longest delay period".  In this email he also puts more pressure on author to 
self archive: "We strongly encourage you to submit your final manuscripts to 
PMC (PubMedCentral) to ensure the permanent preservation of vital published 
research findings".

 

Currently most publishers allow authors to self-archive their version of the 
accepted article ("postprint") on publication but as the system of 
Institutional and Subject Repositories and search engines (eg. Google) become 
more efficient free access to these archives and especially recently 
published articles could undermine the subscription base.  We are 
recommending an embargo and shall be consulting with societies.  We 
appreciate that embargo policies may vary:  in molecular biology downloading 
of articles drops markedly over the first few months which suggests that an 
embargo of 6 months might be appropriate, while in the humanities and social 
science or, say, ecology, the fall-off is much slower indicating a longer 
embargo.

 

NIH press release: http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/feb2005/od-03.htm

 

NIH Policy Q&A: http://www.nih.gov/about/publicaccess/publicaccess_QandA.pdf   

 

-          Bob Campbell, President, Blackwell Publishing



 

 

 

The UK House of Commons Select Committee on Science & Technology

 

As is usual the Government responded to the original report (July 2004) of the 
Select Committee.  It felt that enough is already being done to test new 
models of publishing based on open access and that further funding of such 
trials and Institutional Repositories for self-archiving is unnecessary.  
Unusually the Committee responded to the response refusing to accept the 
Government's view and claiming that the DTI (Department of Trade and 
Industry) had watered down JISC's (Joint Information Services Committee) 
support for open access.  This left the Government having to respond again on 
February 1, 2005.  It confirmed that it has no intention of requiring 
researchers to deposit copies of their articles in free-access archives and 
that it will continue to facilitate a level playing field.

 

The Government held to its line on pay-to-publish: "the government should be 
supporting the best and most cost-effective way possible to channel 
scientific outputs, and at the moment it is not demonstrable that the 
"author-pays" model is the better system."

 

The response also indicated, however, that the RCUK (Research Councils UK) may 
adopt a common policy that allows scientists to publish in an author-pays 
journal where they want to do so.  A spokesman for the RCUK revealed on 
January 25, 2005 that money may be included with grants for authors who wish 
to pay-to-publish.

 

-          Bob Campbell, President, Blackwell Publishing



 

 

 

Open Access Debate at the Annual Meeting of the British Ecological Society

 

The British Ecological Society (BES) turned part of its annual meeting over to 
a discussion titled, 'The end of ecological publishing as we know it: pay to 
read or pay to publish?'.  Alastair Fitter, President of the BES, opened the 
debate by asking for a vote on whether ecological research would benefit from 
open access.  22 delegates voted that research would benefit (42%) while 30 
felt it would not (58%).

 

The vote was followed by four presentations.  Ken Norris, Editor of Journal of 
Animal Ecology, talked from the author's view on how to pay for publication 
costs and also addressed the possible impact on reviewers.  Catriona 
MacCallum, Senior Editor of PLOS Biology, outlined the case for open access 
and the future of publishing in an open access environment, while Bob 
Campbell, President of Blackwell Publishing, presented some scholarship 
friendly alternatives.  Jill Lancaster of the BES spoke about the potential 
impact of open access on the Society and its journals.  Abstracts of the 
presentations can be found at: 
http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/articles/meetings/current/annualmeeting2004/debate_abstracts/

 

After the presentations attendees were divided into groups to discuss four of 
the themes covered in the presentations: 

 

*	How would publication funding work if the model is adopted and would the 
change of model influence what does get published?
*	Is there a place or role for subscriber-pays journals in an open access 
world?
*	Will ecology gain or lose in an open access world?
*	How do we pay for societies if they are not subsidized through publications 
income?

 

These encouraged much debate and each group nominated a representative to 
report back.  A second vote was then taken on the initial question. This time 
15 (30%) voted in favor of and 35 (70%) against the question whether research 
in ecology would benefit from open access.

 

We know that open access is of interest and importance to many of the 
societies for whom we publish. We encourage societies to consider involving 
their members in debates around this issue.

 

-          Liz Ferguson, Publisher, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford



 

 

 

What is Journal 'Quality'?

 

In November, seventy publishers and marketers from around the world met at 
Blackwell's Oxford HQ to share best practices regarding quality improvement 
strategies for journals.  As budgets continue to be squeezed it is 
ever-clearer that only the highest quality journals will escape the 
librarian's axe.  With over 600 societies relying on us as publishing 
partners, Blackwell is very serious about finding the best ways to drive up 
quality.

 

Strategic Journal Development (SJD) is the name of an in-house program 
designed to provide a systematic analysis of whether a given journal is 
meeting the needs of the community it intends to serve, and what steps might 
be taken to improve its quality.  But what does "quality" mean in the context 
of journal publishing?  Well, it can be many different things. Readership is 
often taken as the best measure of quality, as is its cousin - impact factor.  
However these can both be notoriously difficult to make sense of.  Impact 
factors can be manipulated, have different benchmarks for different types of 
article (with review articles always getting more citations), and what counts 
as a good impact factor varies substantially by discipline.  What's more, in 
some disciplines impact is the be-all and end-all, while in others whole 
communities are barely interested in the concept.  Similarly, in some 
disciplines, such as medicine, it is sometimes easier to stimulate more 
readership by publishing more applied articles, whereas the cutting edge 
research papers may be read less widely.

 

For many researchers, the time it takes to get a paper objectively and 
courteously reviewed is a highly relevant measure of quality, and for others 
the degree to which a journal excels at publishing a broad cross section of 
sub-topics is paramount.  In fact there is a pretty long list of factors that 
a community may choose as its benchmark for quality of a journal or article, 
and usually a combination of several of these factors are applied.  Others 
include the relative proportions of different types of article 
(reviews/primary research etc) and the geographic spread of authors as 
compared to the actual spread of researchers in a given field.  In practice, 
a given researcher usually keeps close track of several titles in fields 
related to their own, in addition to more regular general searches, or the 
use of alerting systems, based on keywords etc.  The titles will be chosen to 
give broad coverage of the different subject and quality measures important 
to them.

 

So, it is crucial from an individual journal's point of view to know precisely 
what quality means for it, and the community it serves, particularly in 
relation to other journals serving the same community with different 
requirements (and journals serving overlapping communities with similar 
requirements).  

 

No one journal, of course, can be all things to all people.  SJD gives our 
staff the tools required to help analyze journals and work with editors to 
reposition them as necessary, to provide the very best quality as defined by 
their user communities.  And because so many societies partner with us around 
the world, we have an unparalleled data-bank of experience of what works for 
society journals - in a wide range of STM, social science and professional 
disciplines, based in America, Europe, Asia and developing regions.  

 

Hence the value of the November meeting is truly significant.  An incredible 
variety of journal case studies were presented and analyzed, leaving everyone 
with fresh ideas to bring to the titles for which they are responsible.  The 
question always to be asked about such gatherings is whether they are worth 
it given the air-journeys and hotel bills etc, and the answer in this case is 
a resounding 'yes'!  We passionately believe that because the subject-areas 
and communities we serve are global then so should we be in our outlook, and 
in the vision for our journals.  The true measure of success is more complex 
than readership and impact factor (which are rising across Blackwell titles), 
although they are important as described above.  Another measure is the 37 
societies who have chosen to join us this year and use SJD to maximize their 
quality and global relevance.

 

-          Jon Walmsley, Director, Professional Division, Blackwell Publishing



 

 

 

Editorial Best Practice: Strategies for Developing Journal Quality 

 

Following on from the November Blackwell meeting on Strategic Journal 
Development, we want to provide you with some tools which you may find useful 
when considering the current standing and future development of your journal.  
Your contact at Blackwell Publishing can provide assistance with every step 
summarized below:

 

1. Identify what sets the journal apart.  In retail terms, what is its Unique 
Selling Proposition (USP)?  What draws authors, readers and subscribers to 
it?

 

2. Conduct a SWOT analysis for the journal identifying its Strengths, 
Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  You should also do this for the main 
competitor titles and identify areas of potential overlap or difference.

 

3. Conduct further analysis of the journal and its place in the community, eg. 
ISI Journal Citation Analysis, reader surveys, author surveys, editorial 
office statistical analysis, etc.

 

4. Set your vision and major objectives for the journal.  These should be 
captured in no more than 5 bullet points and should be realistic and 
achievable.  They should answer the question: how can this journal attract 
papers or readers from the competition?

 

5. Agree a short, medium and long-term plan for reaching these objectives.  

 

6. Review the USPs, vision, and objectives for the journal on an annual basis, 
including monitoring any changes in the community's research and publication 
needs or the competitor's positions.  

 

-          Jon Walmsley, Director, Professional Division, Blackwell Publishing



 

 

 

Developments at Google (or 'Googleitis')

 

Google is the single most popular search engine for locating content on the 
world-wide web.  Our research shows that students use it overwhelmingly and 
that even scholars use it frequently if not exclusively in their research.  

 

Our aim is to achieve the widest possible readership for our authors and 
societies.  With this aim in mind we were in 2003 the very first academic/STM 
publisher to allow Google to "crawl" its entire content and we saw a dramatic 
increase in authorized usage.  For similar reasons we encouraged CrossRef to 
work closely with Google in creating a full-text search system for journal 
content from a range of publishers' sites.  The result of that collaboration 
is the CrossRefSearch tool which looks certain to be a boon to both authors 
and readers.

 

Google is a very innovative and independent company.  Google Scholar, for 
example, is an independent attempt by the company to provide more 
discriminating searching techniques to meet the needs of the scholarly 
community.  It aims to index all versions of an article on the web, including 
those available from the author's website and from institutional 
repositories.  We believe it is less useful to scholars and professionals 
than CrossRefSearch.   

 

Google's stated mission is "to organize the world's information and make it 
universally accessible and useful."  Since a lot of the world's information 
isn't yet online, their plan is to develop ways to reach it anyway, such as 
with Google Print which aims to include book content in Google search 
results.  Recently Google has filed a patent application entitled "Method for 
searching media".  This will enable the search of printed materials including 
scanned documents with clickable ads and offered on a pay-per-view basis. 

 

In any event we have strong commercial and personal ties with Google and 
believe they appreciate the benefits provided by publishers.  We will 
continue to explore with them new ideas for expanding readership and revenues 
for our journals.

 

-          René Olivieri, CEO, Blackwell Publishing



 

 

 

All about Online: New Search Engine Initiatives

 

There has been a burgeoning of new search engine initiatives recently.  All 
are exciting developments and have the potential to really present the right 
content to the right readers at the right time and drive up the readership of 
all journal articles.  Following is a summary of three of the initiatives and 
how they compare.

 

About Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a beta initiative launched by Google in November 2004.  Its 
aim is to provide a convenient Google-like search interface for scholars 
seeking authoritative and other content including: peer-reviewed papers, 
theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad 
areas of research (academic publishers, professional societies, preprint 
repositories and universities, as well other scholarly articles available 
across the web. 

 

For a full description see: http://scholar.google.com/scholar/about.html

Try it out: http://scholar.google.com/

 

About CrossRefSearch

CrossRefSearch is a pilot initiative launched in December 2003 as a 
partnership between the CrossRef organization of member publishers and 
Google.  35 publishers now participate and allow Google to index the 
full-text of their journal content.  The search results are delivered in a 
familiar Google format but are restricted to only the high quality content of 
the publishers' journals, much of which has been peer-reviewed.  The major 
difference between Google Scholar and CrossRefSearch is that results from the 
latter service are from peer-reviewed published content only and are 
therefore considered "authoritative."  Results from the former include a 
mixture of authoritative peer-reviewed research as well as non-corroborated 
content from across the web.

 

For a full description see: http://www.crossref.org/crossrefsearch.html

Try it out: 
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/servlet/useragent?func=showSearch&type=external

 

About Scirus

Scirus is a search engine provided by Elsevier Science.  Its stated mission is 
to provide all relevant content for scientific, medical and technical 
scholarly information through a search engine and "destination space."  It is 
a very similar service to Google's and is also free.  However, whereas Scirus 
has all of Elsevier's scholarly content and a few other publishers included 
(eg. IEEE), CrossRefSearch has all the content from a different mix of 35 
publishers, excluding Elsevier which chose not to participate as it already 
has Scirus.  Google Scholar has content from the broadest ranges of 
publishers, as well as content from non-publisher sources, eg. personal 
websites, repositories, etc.

 

For a full description see http://www.scirus.com/srsapp/aboutus/

Try it out: http://www.scirus.com/srsapp/

 

What is the future of Google Scholar and CrossRefSearch?

The CrossRef group of publishers (Blackwell is a founding member) is working 
closely with Google to help integrate the two search initiatives following 
their initial beta trials.  There are a number of areas where further 
integration may be possible, including indexing, ranking, and branding.  In 
addition the CrossRef committee is exploring relationships with other search 
engines, such as Yahoo.

 

With Google Scholar and the growth in institutional repositories, there is a 
risk that the differentiation between the "author copy" of articles and the 
"official final published copy" of articles will be lost.  Such a blur in 
article versions could have consequences for quality-control and 
subscriptions revenue.  We are monitoring the potential consequences and will 
make any recommendations to counter this risk in due course.

 

-          Gordon Tibbitts, President, Blackwell Publishing Inc, Boston



 

 

 

Challenging Librarians to Consider "Who Needs Societies?"

 

The most important annual gathering for opinion-formers in the library world 
takes place in Charleston, South Carolina, each November.  Blackwell was one 
of the sponsors this year and a strong contingent from the company was on 
hand to hear from librarians and other publishers the latest thinking on 
consortia, pricing models, back issue digitisation and new business models.  
Amongst the strong messages coming back were:

 

*	A wholesale move to the open access or author-pays publishing model would 
cost the larger American research libraries far more than subscription 
purchases would, even if the price to the author (or the author's 
institution) was as low as $1200. 
*	There is a willingness to pay for digitised journal back issues and the 
availability of back issues can increase usage of the current volume.
*	Librarians are divided over Big Deals.  Some feel they absorb too much of 
the library's budget; others feel they provide very good extra value for 
faculty and students at little extra cost. 

 

We were broadcasting as well as receiving at the meeting.  Our CEO, René 
Olivieri, delivered a provocative presentation entitled "Who Needs 
Societies?".  In it he recounted the central role societies have played in 
the development of the modern peer-reviewed journal, noting that more than 
50% of the 21,000 journals listed in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory are 
associated with a non-profit university or society.  Three quarters of the 
top 200 and two-thirds of the top 500 ISI-ranked titles are owned by 
societies or other non-profit organizations.  Many of these contract out to 
publishers who are able to offer them greater publishing expertise, economies 
of scale, technology resources and market reach.  

 

What criticism of the current publishing model misses is that societies which 
generate a surplus from their publishing are re-investing in a wide range of 
services to the academic and professional community.  They fund conferences, 
subsidize membership fees, provide support for new entrants to the 
profession, recognize outstanding achievements, lobby, and engage in public 
debate and education.  Open access advocates suggest there may be too many 
societies and that they should not rely on publishing income to support their 
activities.  We argue that societies are efficient organizations and their 
journals represent high quality and excellent value for money.  More than 
ever, societies have a central role to play in research, teaching and public 
policy.  Indeed, we suggested that the modern efficient and networked society 
with its narrow subject focus but global membership is the ideal 
counterbalance to universities which are characterized by more diffuse and 
local interests and weighed down by bricks and mortar.  



 

 

 

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