Editorial board members: What to ask of your journal

abernard102@gmail.com 2012-06-11


“Harvard made a big splash recently when my colleagues on the Faculty Advisory Council to the Harvard Library distributed a Memorandum on Journal Pricing. One of the main problems with the memo, however, is the relatively imprecise recommendations that it makes. It exhorts faculty to work with journals and scholarly societies on their publishing and pricing practices, but provides no concrete advice on exactly what to request. What is good behavior? I just met with a colleague here at Harvard who raised the issue with me directly. He’s a member of the editorial board of a journal and wants to do the right thing and make sure that the journal’s policies make them a good actor. But he doesn’t want to (and shouldn’t be expected to) learn all the ins and outs of the scholarly publishing business, the legalisms of publication agreements and copyright, and the interactions of all that with the policies of the particular journal. There are two kinds of practices that the Harvard memo moots: it explicitly mentions pricing practices of journals, and implicitly brings up author rights issues in its recommendations. Scholar participants in journals (editors editorial board members, reviewers) may want to discuss both kinds of practices with their publishers. I have recommendations for both... Here’s my candidate recommendation for ensuring a subscription journal has good rights practice. You (and, ideally, your fellow editorial board members) hand the publisher a copy of the Science Commons Delayed Access (SCDA) addendum. (Here’s a sample.) You request that they adjust their standard article publication agreement so as to make the addendum redundant... The most controversial aspect of an SCDA-compliant agreement from the publisher’s point of view is likely the ability to distribute the publisher’s version of the article after a six-month embargo. I wouldn’t be wed to that six month figure. This provision would be the first thing to negotiate, by increasing the embargo length — to one year, two years, even five years. But sticking to some finite embargo period for distributing the publisher’s version is a good idea, if only to serve as precedent for the idea. Once the journal is committed to allowing distribution of the publisher’s version after some period, the particular embargo length might be reduced over time... Ted and Carl Bergstrom have collected just this kind of data for a large range of journals at their journalprices.com site, calculating price per article and price per citation along with a composite index calculated as the geometric mean of the two. To handle the problem of field differences, they provide a relative price index (RPI) that compares the composite to the median for non-profit journals within the field, and propose that a journal be considered ‘good value’ if RPI is less than 1.25, ‘medium value’ if its RPI is less than 2, and ‘bad value’ otherwise. As a good first cut at a simple message to a journal publisher then, you could request that the price of a journal be reduced to bring its RPI below 1.25 (that is, good value), or at least 2 (medium value). Since lots of journals run in the black with composite price indexes below median, that is, with RPI below 1, achieving an RPI of 2 should be achievable for an efficient publisher. (My colleague’s journal, the one that precipitated this post, has an RPI of 2.85. Plenty of room for improvement.)”




08/16/2012, 06:08

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scholarly communication oa.new oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.licensing oa.comment oa.mandates oa.green oa.copyright oa.libraries oa.best_practices oa.prices oa.embargoes oa.recommendations oa.compliance oa.harvard.u oa.budgets oa.encouragement oa.versions oa.scda oa.repositories oa.libre oa.policies



Date tagged:

06/11/2012, 22:00

Date published:

06/12/2012, 16:47