Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Academic Journals Moving to Online-Only?

It seems academic journals are also subject to the difficulties faced by newspapers. I'm assuming that most journals are constructed to break even - i.e. the revenue pays for staff, printing, and distribution. If you can't break even, you have no business. I'm also somewhat dubious of the claim that scientists are happier reading online. While I don't doubt that most scientists are doing quite a bit of online research. A journal moving online doesn't necessarily guarantee it's survival. One of the comments to the article makes the point that:
Chemistry journals have a very restrictive access policy even on decades-old papers. They need to provide more open access something like what ASM does with its journals.
Maybe these online journals need to look at a completely different model. What that is, I'm not sure.

Chemistry Journals Go Digital-Only
The American Chemical Society, which publishes several dozen academic journals, is moving to end print editions and produce journals only online. The move was noted by the journal Nature in late June after someone sent it a copy of a memo from a chemical-society official, but unfortunately you can’t read the complete report unless you pay a fee to subscribe or buy one-time access.

And that’s precisely the issue—making money online, and losing it in print—that drove the chemistry society’s decision, according to a recent story in Ars Technica, which you can read in full, at no charge. The Web site notes that the journal publisher said, in the memo, that ‘printing and distribution costs now exceed revenues from print journals.’ Plus, scientists seem happier reading online, the society thinks. So this summer, all but three of its journals will become digital-only.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Profits of commercial academic journals are around 30%, according to a presentation at a recent conference.

That can be boosted further (up to about 20%, it seems, once IT costs have been factored in) if a journal goes online only.


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