Scholarly Societies and their Relationships with Commercial Publishers
peter.suber's bookmarks 2019-06-11
"Perhaps the most celebrated dispute between scholarly societies and a commercial publisher in recent years involved a series of unsuccessful lawsuits brought by the publisher Gordon and Breach against Henry Barschall, the American Institute of Physics (AIP), and the American Physical Society (APS) over articles that Barschall wrote in Physics Today and in the Bulletin of the American Physical Society. The articles and letters to the editor are listed below.
- Barschall, H.H. The cost-effectiveness of physics journals. Physics Today 41(7):56-59 (1988 July).
- Barschall, H.H. & Arrington, J.R. Cost of physics journals: a survey. Bulletin of the American Physical Society 33:1437-1447 (1988).
- Statement [from Kenneth W. Ford (CEO of AIP) and Gloria B. Lubkin (Editor of Physics Today) indicating that Gordon & Breach have complained about errors in the survey.] Physics Today41(11):9 (1988 November).
- Another statement from Ford and Lubkin [indicating that they do not agree with the claims of G&B.;] Physics Today 42(3):13 (1989 March).
- (also a letter from Barschall supplying more methodological information, in:) Physics Today 42(3):15, 154 (1989 March).
In these articles, Barschall compared physics journals for cost-effectiveness, which he defined to mean the cost per printed character divided by the frequency with which articles are cited. Some time after the articles appeared, lawsuits in Switzerland, Germany and France were brought against Barschall, AIP, and APS by Gordon and Breach Science Publishers (whose journals ranked on the bottom). This was followed by a US lawsuit. All these lawsuits have been dismissed.
It also appears that Gordon & Breach threatened the American Mathematical Society (AMS) with lawsuits for publishing a survey of costs for mathematics research journals. According to an article by William Jaco (executive Director of AMS) on pp. 2 and 18 of Notices of the American Mathematical Society, v.37, no.1 (Jan. 1990), the first such survey was published November 1983 in the Notices. It compiled cost data for mathematical research journals. AMS was then contacted by Gordon & Breach and threatened with a libel suit. As a result, AMS excluded G&B; titles in the second survey, published March 1986 in the Notices. In the third survey, published November 1989 in the Notices, AMS included G&B; titles, and G&B; demanded a retraction. Again G&B; appear to have threatened a lawsuit, but it is not clear that whether court action was ever taken...."