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Who Will Pay For Open Access? 390

Posted by timothy
from the sponsors-and-bounties dept.
babble123 writes "IEEE is thinking about providing everyone with free access to its publication database (which has saved many a grad student from a trip to the library). The problem is, where will they get the money to fund the journals if not from subscriptions? In this article, they discuss one proposed alternative, 'author-pays,' but they certainly aren't enthusiastic about it, and I don't blame them. And yet, the money has to come from somewhere. Any better ideas?"
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Who Will Pay For Open Access?

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  • Emergent Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by philipkd (528838) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @05:44AM (#11886606) Homepage
    Why don't they just make it available on the net and see what happens.

    The net has a reputation for novel ways of propogating data. Maybe servers will be donated. Perhaps a company would sponsor the service. Perhaps bittorrents would work. Perhaps they would be uploaded into sourceforge. Perhaps one could rely on Google caches. Maybe power users, like universities, could mirror their database.

    Seriously, put it online, see what the public does.
    • Re:Emergent Solution (Score:5, Informative)

      by ghoti (60903) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @05:57AM (#11886661) Homepage
      This isn't about the bandwidth, at least not primarily. The problem is paying the people for doing the editing, etc. Also, getting something published in a scientific journal is a quality criterion. If everything was "put on the net", you wouldn't be able to tell if something really was accepted for publication by an editor and reviewers, or somebody just modified their torrent ...
      Another aspect is that of journals being archival. You want those papers to be available forever basically, so relying even on Google or probably isn't such a great idea.
      • How about relying on Google and
      • Re:Emergent Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

        by thepoch (698396) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:36AM (#11886831)
        How about setting a "quota" of sorts on payments. Once it reachers a certain amount collected, then release it for free. I'm sure there are plenty who would like to pay to get the stuff first and just to support them. The more popular the stuff is, the more people would be willing to pay. After they've reached the quota, release. Those who can afford and want to contribute will get it first. The rest can just either pay and get it, or hope it reaches quota. If it doesn't reach quota. Then pay for it if it's that important.

        Warning: I did not read TFA.
        • Re:Emergent Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mishmash (585101) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:44AM (#11886862) Homepage
          They could charge a premium rate for current and "advance publication" material. Older material could be made available for free - funded by the purchase of the newly released papers.
        • Allow the authors to buy out the fee (should they wish to make the material immediately available to all, equally), and you've got a plan.

          Tapering the cost with time would also be a good idea, IMO. That way you avoid a "muggins first" mentality, where customers wait for one another to buy the last few subscriptions.

      • Re:Emergent Solution (Score:5, Informative)

        by mrchaotica (681592) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:42AM (#11886854)
        Wait a second... I was under the impression that "the people doing the editing, etc." were other researchers (hence the term "peer review") and weren't getting paid (much) anyway. Haven't there been stories on Slashdot in the past complaining that the publishers of academic journals are useless middlemen as it stands now?

        It seems to me that these papers are written for free, peer-reviewed for free, and could very well be hosted on the internet for free. This is really the kind of thing that universities and places like sourceforge and are designed to handle, and volunteering to help with the production of this knowledge ought to just be part of being a researcher.
        • Re:Emergent Solution (Score:5, Informative)

          by pedantic bore (740196) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @07:49AM (#11887081)
          It depends on the publication. Most conference papers are written and edited by the authors (with help from reviewers and shepherds, who are more or less volunteers). Most journals, in contrast, employ copy editors to clean up the English, make sure that everything is formatted just so, make sure that all the citations are complete and in the correct format, etc. This is a non-trivial amount of work, and requires professionals.

          • "This is a non-trivial amount of work, and requires professionals."

            Please, you're talking to /.. If it ain't software related, something they're familiar with, something they can do..... it can't be difficult, remember?
          • by Tim (686) <`ude.notgnihsaw.inmula' `ta' `rmit'> on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @08:12AM (#11887163) Homepage
            "Most journals, in contrast, employ copy editors to clean up the English, make sure that everything is formatted just so, make sure that all the citations are complete and in the correct format, etc."

            Har. In my own experience, these "copy editors" have the approximate technical skill level of a McDonald's fry-cook trainee...I know many researchers whose manuscipts have actually had errors introduced by the copy-editing process.

            In my own field (computational biology), the vast majority of the thinking work (peer review, subject-matter editing) is done gratis by professors, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. And when we publish, we pay dearly for the privelege of submitting our manuscripts and figures on a website, waiting several months for comments (from the volunteer reviewers), and signing over our copyrights to the publisher upon acceptance. Then you get to pay dearly to read the article we've written!

            Given that most journal access is electronic these days, I think the entire process is a racket, propped up by the notoriously conservative nature of peer-review and scientific reputation. If we could just agree that the mainstream publishers are useless, there'd be no need to support them. But of course, they're not useless (they're the arbiters of scientific quality, for better or worse), and therefore we pay for their "services"....
            • Editors (Score:3, Insightful)

              While the copy editors may be bad, and while the majority of the reviewing is done by peers, there is still very important jobs that you need good top-level editors for:

              - Throwing out the complete garbage, crackpottery, etc: seeing if the author exists, is at a real institution, etc.

              - Finding people to peer-review the article. This is not easy; it's often difficult to find 3 or 4 good people in the right sub-field who don't actually have a connection to the work. This means the editor has to understand t
              • by Wills (242929) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @10:06AM (#11887841)
                • there is still very important jobs that you need good top-level editors for:

                  - Throwing out the complete garbage, crackpottery, etc: seeing if the author exists, is at a real institution, etc.

                These are all things which could be checked very quickly without any editor by peer reviewers.
                • - Finding people to peer-review the article. This is not easy; it's often difficult to find 3 or 4 good people in the right sub-field who don't actually have a connection to the work. This means the editor has to understand the article to begin with.
                The process of finding independent peer-reviewers could itself be well handled by peer review.
                • - Dealing with fraud, plagurism, etc. Not easy.
                Dealing with fraud, plagiarism is the easy part -- identifying it when it occurs is the hard part and editors are usually not the ones who identify fraud and plagiarism - it's peers who spot almost all such problems.
            • by OmniGeek (72743) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @11:06AM (#11888478)
              The perception of the journal business as a parasitic racket is bolstered by the phenomenon of authors having to pay per-page charges to get articles published in these very expensive publications. Reminds me of the pharmaceutical industry...

              Yes, there is a need for someone, somehow, to finance the organized peer-review and publication of scientific articles. However, I flatly refuse to accept the proposition that $1500/year subscriptions and author-paid page charges are a good way to do this. Free interchange of information is essential to science; academic publishers on the present model, however, are NOT.

              The IEEE, based on my reading of the article in the dead-tree newsletter, is worried that they'll be innovated out of the academic publishing business, and they cannot imagine what will supplant it. This is a frankly bizarre attitude for an organization dedicated to technical advancement.
              Of course, as an IEEE member, I've seen a great deal of bizarre behavior from IEEE HQ.
        • The review process is by no means free. The peer reviewers have to be specialists in the field the article discusses. Sometimes, there are only two or three such peers world wide and they are just as hard working as the author. If you want them to sit down and think about an article they didn't write for a day, you have to pay them.

          Apart from that: "Author pays" is a really bad method. It keeps young authors from publishing frequently (since they're on a budget).

          Face it: For a peer-review process, s
          • The review process is by no means free. The peer reviewers have to be specialists in the field the article discusses. Sometimes, there are only two or three such peers world wide and they are just as hard working as the author. If you want them to sit down and think about an article they didn't write for a day, you have to pay them.

            I don't know about esoteric fields, but in computer science, I have never heard about reviewers being paid by anybody. I am very certain that I have not received a cent for th

    • Re:Emergent Solution (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lovebyte (81275) *
      RTFA! They talk about this. Every recent research paper is on the net right now, but who pays for the servers, how do you maintain servers, how do you pay for format changes from currently PDF/HTML to format XYZ in 5 years from now, who pays for editors, and so on.

      It's been 5 years since the internet bubble exploded, but there are still people who believe a free for all internet is the solution to all our problems.
      • This isn't about the Internet Bubble, but rather about the purpose of organizations such as the IEEE. They are not a profit-making corporation, but an NPO dedicated to academic and technological pursuits. To them, their goals are best served by free access if they can make it work. Now, the free iPod/Mac Mini/DS/etc. sites smack of dot-com era idiocy. Then again, if I can get one from that, I don't mind taking advantage. Just a shame that I have to buy something at all. But I digress.
      • Q: Who pays?

        A: Government grants, Universities, volunteers & donations, places like and, etc.
    • Bandwidth isn't the only problem. Before they can be published, the journals will first have to be produced, which involves things like peer reviews, editing, formatting, proofreading etc. I have no idea what the associated costs are, but I bet these things aren't free.

      That being said though, I do feel that the cost to get certain "public" material is very high. My own experience is mostly with ISO. I occassionally need some information from their standards and the only way to get it is to buy the entire s
      • I'm a med student. The British Medical Association has made its journal, BMJ [], available for free for a number of years. This is a world-leading medical journal - up there with The Lancet and NEJM - provided completely gratis to anybody and everybody. You can search, download PDFs, do anything you want really. Doctors (and students) still pay their membership fees. If the BMA can manage it, the IEEE certainly can.
    • The biggest problem is not about hosting data, servers, bandwidth. It's the cost of producing them. From TFA:
      "Producing a journal--sending manuscripts out for peer review, editing them, formatting text and artwork, and proofreading them--costs time and money."

      Author-pays isn't a good option because it has impact on journal quality. And information is already free (if you are in a university and know people who to some research)

      [joke] just teach those researchers how to use a blog, and use trackback for

    • Re:Emergent Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hachete (473378)
      Yes, yes, but also use Wikipedia as a model for editing. Of course, it may not be as "respected" (see Encylopaedia Britannica v Wikipedia) and it may be a different form of information paradigm but seriously, how much money do researchers make out of reviewing journals? Would it be missed?
  • Government ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by makapuf (412290) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @05:45AM (#11886611)
    I know I have a European bias toward this, but why couldn't the ? I mean, given the huge funds invested in private research (ahem colossal military budget), I am sure this would really be a drop in the bucket but will have great effects.

    I mean, why not just put it under a military budget or academia ?
    • (ahem colossal military budget)

      This always bugs me when I see it. In 2001, US military spending was at an all time low of 3.0% of the GDP. Even with the "huge" increases since 9-11, we are up to a whopping 3.7% of GDP (reference []). If you really want find extra money in the budget, convince the politicians to quit funding their pork projects. (Note: fat chance on that.)

      • I note you referenced the one, but not the other, from the very same site.

        Yes, 48% of discretionary spending is a [i]colossal military budget[/i]. I don't question that our GDP can support it, but let's not pretend it's not frickin' huge, nor that it doesn't indicate where our governments priorities lay.

      • Re:Government ? (Score:4, Informative)

        by node 3 (115640) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:38AM (#11886840)
        Why the hell would you compare military spending to the GDP? That doesn't make any sense, unless you are looking for something to dwarf military spending, and there isn't much that does. In fact, GDP is about the only thing that *does* dwarf the US military budget!

        Your "reference" page lists the military budget as 49% of the discretionary spending in 2003 (the last year listed). I suspect that that number doesn't even *count* the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are left out of many budget reports (hey look, we've decreased the budget deficit. All we had to do was not count all the money we spend, wee!).

        The US spends more money on the military than every other nation combined (the site you linked to has that number at just above 90% of the rest of the world's spending for 2002, on an upward trend). It's half of US discretionary spending. Only a moron could claim that that's not 'colossal'.
      • GDP? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Vellmont (569020)
        Umm.. why are you comparing the military budget to GDP? Strangely enough most people think the military budget is huge because it's a large percentage of federal spending. GDP has nothing to do with that, other than being a number that the military spending is small in comparison with. I find your entire argument to be patently dishonest.
    • The question would be how to choose what to pay for. The current system has the advantage that only journals which at least someone (even if it is some insane clique of social scientists) reads get money.

      Perhaps a system where any journal which sold a minimum number of subscriptions to recognised libraries coule get funding to provide a lower quality, but same content, publication online (and would be expected to)? The problem would be working out a way to make the library subscriptions have enough added

      • by node 3 (115640)
        The question would be how to choose what to pay for. The current system has the advantage that only journals which at least someone (even if it is some insane clique of social scientists) reads get money.

        That's not really much of a problem. First, the President should have a "Department of Science" cabinet, where it's made explicitly clear that science from that department will be clear of political influences, then you have that department choose to fund access to journals deemed worthy by a board of pro
        • the President should have a "Department of Science" cabinet, where it's made explicitly clear that science from that department will be clear of political influences,

          Somebody please mod this +100 Hilarious.

          • Somebody please mod this +100 Hilarious.

            Heh. Yeah, I wasn't actually thinking of the current President when I wrote that. I just meant it's what the Office of the Presidency should have as one of its cabinets.
            • Anything run directly by the office of a politician will be operated politically. If you say the decision should be made by prominent scientists, then the selection of those scientists will be political. If you say the selection of those scientists should be made by some kind of peer selection or publication metric, the selection process or metric will be manipulated to get the politically desirable result.

              It's not about the current president. Any politician must act that way, it is their job to maximise

            • Re:Government ? (Score:3, Insightful)

              Heh. Yeah, I wasn't actually thinking of the current President when I wrote that.

              Why the hell not? Just insert "Creation" in front of "Science" and it's a green light.
    • It isn't a military endevor. Why would you want to siphone off funds from the military anyways. It will only become something to screem about later like $800 step ladders and the likes.

      Maybe the better way would be to have an open acount for acedemia that could be accessed by the schools or local/state governments mirroring the content localy and providing access that way and then still requiring corperations to subscribe. It may also be worth the investment of the submitor pays but only under certain curc
    • Re:Government ? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HuguesT (84078) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:51AM (#11886888)
      Because money given == control. The gov would then like to have a say in everything the IEEE does, and over time it would not be possible to refuse them.
      • Yes! And don't we already have enough government interference in our reporting of science? Witness the researchers who are afraid to publish publicly unpopular research results for fear of censure or loss of funding.

        Also, the amount of government spending reported as "discretionary" is misleading: The Government doesn't have any money of it's own, it takes it from the productive portion of the economy.

        Actually, though, the membership in the IEEE is fairly stiff, and should cover the cost of their public
    • I know I have a European bias toward this, but why couldn't the [government pay for it]?

      Governments working towards the advancement of science? You Europeans think up the strangest things!

      You must not have been paying attention to the US for the last four years. You see, we're at war with the tererists of mass destruction, and have had to ration "frivolities" like science, reason, openness and accountability.

      I think they melt those things down to make Freedom Guns, or Democracy Bombs, or something.
  • IEEE Membership (Score:5, Informative)

    by crusty_architect (642208) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @05:51AM (#11886635) Homepage
    Access to this online content is one of the only reasons I keep up my IEEE membership. It's a *lot* of money ($250AU P/A). I would think that the IEEE would suffer greatly when people such as myself fail to renew if this content becomes free.
    • Whether the IEEE's membership level goes up or down after any decision to make IEEE publications free to access online, will depend on what other services they offer as part of an IEEE membership and the price of that membership. The IEEE, as a scientific society whose stated mission is to "promote the engineering process of creating, ... and applying knowledge ... for the benefit of humanity and the profession", has for too long taken the traditional publishers' approach of revenue maximisation from its on
  • by StandardDeviant (122674) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @05:54AM (#11886648) Homepage Journal

    This question is hardly unique to the IEEE, all of science publication has been wrestling with these issues for about the last ten years in earnest (esp. since the widespread adoption of the net with viable mechanisms for scientific content delivery (html sucks for equations, but things like pdf make for easy distribution and consumption of papers and paper-like content)). Unfortunately, no good answers have been arrived at that I'm aware of. The professionals in the field want to publish in prestigous journals for their reputations, journals become prestigous in part through extensive peer-review processes and widespread publication, and all that takes time/staff/money. There have been some efforts and opening this process up, spurred by the high costs of institutional subscriptions (like, 20k+ USD per year for some of the chemistry journals I follow :P), but as yet I'm unaware of much adoption because, as mentioned above, an article in "" is not held in the same weight as one in, say, JACS. It's sort of a self-perpetuating cycle driven by social factors that will be very difficult to fix with technology (esp. given how very set in their ways most of the scientific community is... and I say this as a scientist).

    • by Skapare (16644) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:08AM (#11886713) Homepage

      In order to gain access to publish, require the authors to participate (no pay) in the peer review process much like moderators on Slashdot (but more formalized). Then have a meta peer review process to back that up. You get free peer reviewing by requiring authors to do some of that to continue to publish. But unlike Slashdot, the mod points would go to verified degreed people in academic or other research areas who would be selected first early access to do the reviews. When an article is submitted, distribute it to randonly selected reviewers. Then if it's not completely shot down, follow up with more review cycles until the reviewer sample size gives a good ranking.

      Do the actual distribution via BitTorrent, with the article in the clear, but cryptographically signed by the prestigious journal. The journal's web site would have the abstracts, links, and public key.

      It's not totally paid for this way, but the cost of distribution gets covered, and peer reviewers come free.

      • this is already what is happening... authors write papers, but authors also peer review other author's submissions.
      • In practice right now that's what happens but in reverse, in my experience. Every time I publish an article, after that I get asked to review articles by several other journals. If I don't publish for a while, I'm less likely to be asked.

        I also get asked to review papers which cite my papers. In principle that's often a good way to choose reviewers, since usually papers that cite me are on related topics, and I would be more qualified to evaluate them.

        If journals shift to author-pays, the problem is th
      • by misterpies (632880) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @08:21AM (#11887202)
        I used to work for a journal. Reviewing a paper is not like moderating a slashdot comment. It's an in-depth editing process that takes a lot of time. Firstly, most papers are on very specialised subjects. You can't randomly distribute it to a reviewer - it's quite possible that there will only be a small number of people out there qualified to review it, and half of those are probably working on the same problem so you can't send it to them in case they nick all the ideas and then reject the paper. (Oh yes, scientists will do that) Once you've found some decent reviewers, it's not a question of the reviewer reading it in 5 minutes and marking it +1 insightful. It will probably take them a few days to read and understand the paper properly. Then they need to consider whether it makes sense and, just as important, whether what it reports is worth publishing. (Someone reviewing a paper for Nature or Science is going to have a very different view on whether it should be accepted than someone reviewing it for the Journal of Pointless Periwinkle Research.) If the paper seems good enough on those grounds, then the reviewer will still usually suggest a raft of changes to make it better. The review then has to go back to the author so that the author can make the changes. When that's done, it goes out to review again, & so on until finally the reviewers think it's ready to publish. It's true that the reviewer generally does all this work for free (and peer reviewing can be one of the biggest demands on a scientist's time). But someone has to choose the reviewers and act as go-between (since for obvious reasons, the identity of the reviewers and the authors are kept secret from one another); most importantly that go-between needs to act as a fair referee and realise where a reviewer is making unreasonable demands or being too easy and so find more reviewers. Someone has to perform those little tasks like sub-editing (which can be a major task with a paper submitted in English by a group of Japanese researchers - and let's face it, most american scientists aren't great writers either). Then there's those little matters of layout, style and consistency that are necessary in a professional product. And finally, people still like paper journals. It's a lot easier to read a long paper on paper, the diagrams are better quality than most office printers can manage, and some people just prefer it. And paper journals add a new layer of costs - not just the cost of paper and ink but typesetting, delivery etc. As for cost, if journals seem massively expensive compared to consumer magazines, remember that most of the cost of consumer magazines is paid for by advertisers, not subscribers. And when people complain about paying $10,000s for a journal - that's usually for access to be shared between hundreds if not thousands of subscribers at that lab or university. Per-reader costs are comparatively low.
    • The professionals in the field want to publish in prestigous journals for their reputations, journals become prestigous in part through extensive peer-review processes and widespread publication, and all that takes time/staff/money.

      It takes time but not money. In my field (CS/AI) the reviewers, editors and authors aren't paid for their work. And they do wonder where all the money goes that publishers collect.

      As for adoption, it's certainly happened. Two examples: Journal of AI Research (
  • by R.Caley (126968) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @05:55AM (#11886652)
    Only a politician could think author pays is a reasonable model, because that is how they publish, paying to dump masses of unwanted and seriously derranged literature on my doormat at every election.

    Positive and negative feedback needs to come from the output end to get useful results. Feed-forward from the input just creates instability. Early rocket pioneers found that out, which is why Goddard had an engine at the top, and von Braun had to develop complex gyro control systems.

    There is an existing model for making access more open while preserving the useful feedback from readers - public libraries. Money goes from the state to authors based on demand for the books.

    Imagine the public library which would result from the authors paying for inclusion. Come to think of it we are back to my doormat. I need to go throw away the junk mail and local politician's drivel now so I can open the door to get out to buy some coffee. Anyone have a shovel?

    • Actually there are several merits to the author-pays model. As many people have already pointed out, the payment is not about the costs of publishing the material and making it available, but to cover the costs of editing and proper academic review.

      So the author-pays model is about paying for the stuff you submit to be reviewed to ensure that it is of high enough quality to be disseminated via that channel.

      Authors often have a reason that they are publishing research, for example they need to publish a

      • So the author-pays model is about paying for the stuff you submit to be reviewed to ensure that it is of high enough quality to be disseminated via that channel.

        This is called vanity publishing.

        • No, it's not. The author-pays model does not limit submissions to subscribers only (subscription is open and free), nor does payment guarantee you publication.

          You pay to have your work reviewed by an independent panel of experts in the field, to ensure its quality and applicability, and to ensure that readers can rely on the information they acquire from the journal.

          The alternative (current model) is to have readers pay, which (i) reduces the potential audience of your work, (ii) reduces scientific adv

          • "...nor does payment guarantee you publication."

            Your parent poster is still correct. It's vanity publishing - published by author payment. Doesn't matter how you divvy up the payment, it matters where the payment comes from. Does not paying guarantee you won't get published? If so, it's vanity.

            Your last paragraph makes more sense. Pay for the vetting, not the distribution. When I write, I have to have an editor go over the stuff. I pay for that editing. The end publisher does not. They are only
  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @05:56AM (#11886655) Homepage Journal
    Why isn't anyone talking about ADs ?. They are the natural revenue for an online magazine ?. Or maybe advertisements bring in an unwanted commercial touch to this ?.

    Of course ADs are not always that forthcoming. But I guess well placed book ads would be enough to solve this problem.

    And lastly, why not pick a public sponsor ?. Someone like IBM could sponsor this whole thing without a dent in the budget. Or you could ask for the public to mirror it - if the bandwidth is the real issue (of course, nothing says "COOL" as much as a local mirror of IEEE at your Uni LAN).
    • by R.Caley (126968) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:09AM (#11886717)
      why isn't anyone talking about ADs ?. They are the natural revenue for an online magazine ?

      Because we aren't talking about magazines, but journals. Magazines are high circulation, low content. Journals are the reverse. A company might want to get their name in front of the eyes of the 50 top nuclear phycists in the world, but if they do they would be better off picking up the phone or writing personal letters than trying to create a half page add to describe why their superconducting filament is the best for bulding accelerators.

      The mass audience for journals is postgraduate students, but they have no money to speak of, and anyway there are already enough places to advertise beer.

  • by Anonymous Cowdog (154277) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @05:58AM (#11886662) Journal
    I'm a IEEE member and they send me so much paper it's downright embarassing. For an organization that should be leading the way into the future, I don't know why they insist on littering my mailbox with so much newsprint and so many envelopes stuffed with important notices about the myriad of ways to spend hundreds of dollars on different stingily selected slices of content.

    I worked on a project once where we cooperated with a science journal. They told us that 80% of their costs were in production and distribution of paper. If they could do everything electronically, they could have eliminated that 80%. So my suggestion would be that IEEE do exactly that. Eliminate the paper. It's not like they are going to have to spend more to ramp up a web site with electronic versions of the content, because they already have that entire framework in place. If anything, their current web site is too complicated, and could be simplified (and made cheaper to operate) by eliminating a lot of the built-in toll booths.
    • I think your idea has some merit. Coming from printing/publishing and graphics areas, most of our costs are centered around printing(paper and ink) and distribution.

      Still some people just like paper. I'm just a commoner, but there is something I like about reading the news paper in the morning even though I get the major headlines everytime I go online.

      Pdf or the like is a good idea because then if people want a hard copy, they can then print it on their own dime.

      Still it takes money to run webserve

    • In the machine learning community, one of the most important journal is JMLR []. From the beginning, this paper decided to go free, online. As a results, the time to publish were very small, and since reviewing was very strict, the paper quickly gained a high Impact Factor. Now it appears that JMLR is also published as paper volumes. I don't know about their economic model, but surely this success-story shows it is feasible to publish scientific free journals.

      Furthermore, many au
    • I can attest to this. I once donated money to the IEEE (about 15 dollars added to my membership fee) and they sent me a glossy brochure with a list of all donors and a certificate to thank me.

      I do not live in the US and I am pretty sure that more than half of that 15 dollars (earmarked for developing countries) was blown by the international packaged thank-you mail.
  • Simple... (Score:4, Funny)

    by goodEvans (112958) <devans&airatlanta,ie> on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @05:58AM (#11886663) Homepage
    Advertising and product placement.

    "This cable specification brought to you by Belkin, the choice of the home user"

    "Required test equipment: Craftsman digital multimeter model no..."

    "Why not take a break from reading this specification and enjoy a cool frappacino - there's probably a Starbucks within 100 yards anyway"
  • The solution is simple enough. Just approach one or more advertisers and generate PDF files on the fly with the first page as a full page advert. Think google adsense with full page advertising.

    Marketers would gladly pay to for full page advertising to the target market that downloads these documents.

  • Easy! (Score:2, Funny)

    by nmb3000 (741169)
    With popups and banner ads! The Internet was raised on these mediums so they must still work. Also, with all those words, think how good AdSense would work!

  • Strange question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Eivind (15695)
    Distributing content online is extremely cheap.

    Even more so for content that is "dense", that is, a lot of information in a small file. A Scientific paper is maybe a single MB or two, and contains a lot of information (it is "dense"), a movie in contrast is a GB or more, and is frequently only entertainment for an hour and a half.

    I consider it extremely likely that simply *allowing* distribution will be enough, the net will take care of the rest by itself.

    It's harder if you insist that distribution ta

  • by johansalk (818687) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:05AM (#11886695)
    In my humble opinion, they don't need to open up their library to everyone. Sure, it is useful, but it is mostly useful for a certain technical and professional crowd. This is not a library that the majority of the public will care about. Those for whom this library is relevant should afford to pay their IEEE membership costs, as $250 p/a is not much compared to many other disciplines and professions. Those in Academia such as students can use their Academic libraries; the IEEE does not need to subsidize Academic institutions and education.
    • by pjrc (134994)
      Those for whom this library is relevant should afford to pay their IEEE membership costs

      To give you one tiny example, several months ago I was working on a rewrite of the floating point library for the SDCC C Complier []. Yeah, I'm a small-time free software developer, and in that project you can find code I've contributed (mostly in the libraries).

      I started working on the trig functions. There's a method called CORDIC (the alternate approach is polynomial approximation). Sine, Cosine and Arctangent are

  • by kevb (816796)
    This is more likely to be something people use once in a while. I avoided it at university because I could be bothered to go to the library, where I could read journals for free. But if the articles where much cheaper, I probably would have indulged, and I would probably still be reading them now that I don't have that library access... Just a thought.
    • For the most part, academic journals are not and have never been cash cows. Many of them exist on the fringes of profitability. Many keep their expenses down by skimpling on payment to editors, peer-reviewers and authors. In my field, academics do all these tasks (even to the point of delivering camera-ready material) and receive no compensation beyond a line in the CV. And right now, editing and peer-reviewing CV lines are not the way to success in any field. Universities value and pay for the results, but
  • Missing data... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ErikZ (55491) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:19AM (#11886759)

    How are we supposed to come up with a good solution if we don't even know the scope of the problem?

    ie:How much money are we talking about here?
  • by Tethys_was_taken (813654) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:23AM (#11886780) Homepage
    Dear IEEE,
    Please don't look to advertising.

    A random IEEE member.


    IEEE has a reputation of impartiality. If they do open their doors to ad revenue their integrity will be questioned. The last thing we need is corporate sponsored standards and reference material which shut out competitors and amateurs.

    Even if they do stay impartial, they will be questioned and it will lead to a whole quagmire of politics. It is inevitable.

    I know this comment doesn't help much, but I had to say it. I commend the IEEE for trying to make reference material avilable free, but please think about this. Anyway, I don't think IEEE will read this, so bleh.
  • Why not have IEEE turn into a non-profit foundation (like Mozilla) and get the industry to sponsor it? Research is important, and access to research even more so. Google knows - and their sponsorship for Wikipedia shows it.
  • In astronomy... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mbrother (739193) <mbrother.uwyo@edu> on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @06:31AM (#11886816) Homepage
    ...The author pays a bit over $100 a page for the major US journals. You budget for it in your grants. Still, we have subscriptions at huge cost, despite very common free preprint servers. My colleagues in many other fields don't pay, and the universities do. Yes, I agree there should be a better model.
  • Let O'Reilly access to a small fraction of this content so they can test for interest in their online book subscription service. If the geeks flock to it, O'Reilly will see it as a way to give their product more visibility and they can license the rest.
  • Electronic journals and proceedings are already creating a 'vanity press', as discussed, and this is not being driven by 'author-pays', but (seemingly) by publishers' 'panning for gold' approach (i.e. accept a broad range of fledging publications and see which makes it).

    Speaking as a (publically-funded) publishing academic, I think that author-pays is a valid potential model and (in the UK at least), as it will raise the bar for high-quality 'traditional' publications over the existing electronic ones. Fu
  • If only Digital rights managment software actually worked what they could do is distribute files for free that expire 1 month after the download. Then libraries could pay for both hardcopies and digital copies without any kind of DRM attached. This would still give almost all the benefits of having an open system while still allowing the journals to get the money they need to survive.
    • If publishers (and companies like Adobe) actually worked on a sensible DRM, they might get something to work.

      But the last time I worked on DRM, the requirements were just too complex: "Allow cut-and-paste of specific page range, not any advert JPGs [copyright], up to so many characters/words, up to so many times in a given date range. Allow more after end date. Allow print to local (not networked) printer up to 5 times until given date..." There was a ton of stuff like this. I doubted that anyone was
  • Most of the low-to-medium publicity journals get a nice boost in their impact factor (approximate measure of quality*publicity) by being free online because more people read them. That's why many journals want to be free/open access.

    There are many ways this can work. Authors already pay, for many journals. Advertisements are another source of income. Membership fees (as in Science, the journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science) can also help. Finally, and most important

  • Give it away for free and make up for it in volume!
  • by mezigue (722609)
    In terms of fairness, I think getting people who cite an IEEE paper to pay something to the IEEE would be a reasonable solution since they have clearly benefited from reading that article.

    But of course, it is not easy to implement. It is also a negative incentive to citing that paper which is bad since the one thing authors want is to be cited.
  • I am puzzled by the following quote from the article:

    Moreover, Lightner notes that several large research universities have examined the potential cost of faculty publishing under an author-pays model and have concluded that, for them, open access would not be the most cost-effective publishing solution. He says the schools discovered they would pay more in author fees than it would cost to continue to pay to subscribe to journals from publishers, even at current high prices. That's not only because of th

  • Such an issue is a common one:
    The non-profiting resource is obviously of great benefit to society and the country at large, helping to provide a poole of knowledgable people who can help society in this field.

    Just like with all the similar things which serve society but do not make a direct profit the federal government, and therefor indirectly everyone, should contribute to maintaining a resource which is indirectly of use to everyone.

  • In the field of AI we have at least two highly respected journals which do not have paper editions (even though libraries can buy bound collections of papers on a yearly basis) and which make their content available for free to everyone:
    Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research [] and
    Journal of Machine Learning Research []

    This works because an academic journal does not really have any expenses for peer-review. Academics review for free as part of their job - it gives status to review for a prestigious jou
  • IEEE, has already gone "Green" [] -- i.e., it is among the 78% of publishers (publishing 92% of the 8950 journals surveyed to date) who have already given each of their authors the green light to provide open access to their own articles, if they wish, by self-archiving them in their own institutional OA archives. IEEE is now contemplating also going "Gold" [] -- i.e., becoming one of the 5% of publishers that are open-access publishers, making all of their articles open-access (and many of them recovering thei
  • Why don't they use micropayments? Even starving students should be able to afford 25c.
  • Reduce the price and publicize the hell out of it.
  • Tax (Score:3, Insightful)

    by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @07:54AM (#11887106) Homepage
    Alright I know alot of people are going to be suggesting hokey solutions where no real person pays (or at least no one they know). Yet someone needs to pay for these journals and while editors and reviewers are likely to work very cheaply if not for free many of these journals need some staff and some money to encourage reviewers and boards. Unfortunatly, if we keep using the current system alot of people don't get any access (they aren't subscribers) yet no one benefits. The authors would like to reach a larger audience and it doesn't cost ieee anything for them to read the magazine either (at least not more than banner ads bring in).

    This is essentially a tragedy of the commons problem. Imagine what would happen if we tried to pay for national parks and forests entierly via usage fees and if you didn't pay for your camp permit or wilderness pass you couldn't use the area. Now perhaps a few tourist destinations might be accesible because of volume but probably the high prices would mean only the wealthy and dedicated could afford to use the forests and everyone loses. In short the private property model is really great at distributing goods which aren't duplicable (marginal cost is a large fraction of total cost per item) but goods which can be shared like parks and information is better supported by the people as a whole.

    How could such a system work? Simple, an internet version of the library tax used in uk and canada. Basically the government or sub contracted companies (this could be competitive and you could probably download from amazon and have just as much privacy protection as now) would record how frequent journals/books/whatever are used (and perhaps an estimation of how useful it was by the reader) and then compensate the author proportionatly.

    I know the standard reaction is to think this couldn't possible hand out money in the 'right' amounts. Yet this is just because you are stuck in the mindset that this is really property. There are no right amounts, or if there are we are far from them. When the most valuable and time consuming works (technical works, textbooks, high art) are generally the least profitable while novels make tons of money. In short we don't need to be very accurate to make sure books and journals get written just so long as we are in the ballpark of more readers=more money.
  • by Phoe6 (705194) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @08:13AM (#11887170) Homepage Journal
    I dont know how many people here feel some kind of a Deja vu!
    The U.S. Congress set us on this road in 1982, when it created a centralized appellate court for patent cases called the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A decade later, Congress ordered that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), which up until then had been funded by tax revenues, instead fund itself through application and maintenance fees. Both changes were described as administrative and procedural rather than substantive.
    From my thought store []
    So, it is certainly a bad idea!
    Some improvements over the existing system should be thought about, rather than this.
  • This old chestnut... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DuranDuran (252246) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @08:17AM (#11887184)
    has been discussed before.

    Steve Harnad posted this [] to describe the problem. Text reproduced below.

    [The following concerns refereed research report publication.]

    What is wrong with the following picture?

    (1) A brand-new PhD recipient proudly tells his mother he has just
    published his first article. She asks him how much he was paid for
    it. He makes a face and tells her "nothing," and then begins a long
    complicated explanation.

    (2) A fellow-researcher at that same university sees a reference to
    that same article. He goes to their library to get it: It's not
    subscribed to here; can't afford that journal; subscription budget
    already overspent.

    (3) An undergraduate, same university, sees the same article
    cited on the Web; clicks on it. The publisher's website demands a
    password: only paid subscribing institutions can have access.

    (4) The undergraduate loses patience, gets bored, and clicks on
    napster to grab an MP3 file of his favorite bootleg music CD to
    console him in his sorrows.

    (5) Years later, the same PhD is being considered for tenure; his
    publications are good, but they're not cited enough; they have not
    made enough of a research impact. Tenure denied.

    (6) Same thing happens when he tries to get a research grant: his
    research findings have not had enough of an impact: not enough
    researchers have read and cited them.

    (7) He decides to write a book instead. Publisher declines to
    publish it: It wouldn't sell enough copies because not enough
    universities have enough money to pay for it -- their purchasing
    budgets are tied up paying for their inflating annual journal
    subscription costs.

    (8) He tries to put his articles up on the Web, free for all, to
    increase their impact; his publisher threatens to sue him for
    violation of copyright.

    (9) He asks his publisher who the copyright is intended to protect.

    (10) His publisher replies: You!

    What is wrong with this picture? (And why is the mother of the PhD
    whose give-away work people cannot steal, even though he wants them
    to, in the same boat as the mother of the recording artist whose
    non-give-away work they can and do steal, even though he does not
    want them to?)
  • The Budapest Open Access Initiative has discussed possible business models [] in their FAQ [].

    There are also links on that page for other approaches.
  • by Jonathan (5011) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @08:41AM (#11887309) Homepage
    It might seem to the uninitiated that societies like the IEEE are unbiased on the issue of open access, but they are about as biased about open access as Microsoft is about Linux. The fact is, while being "non-profit", these societies (and particularly their staff), make tons of money off journals. There was a a scandal recently when the head of a similar society, the ACS, was shown to be making $750,000/year. Therefore, they spread FUD about open access. They don't care about science; it's the bottom line they care about, and open access threatens those cushy salaries.

    The standard myths about open access just aren't true. There aren't people doing worthwhile science that can't afford to publish it. Even in the third world scientists are supported by grants. Author payment is the logical way to fund scientific publication. Heck, the IEEE *itself* charges page fees (basically the same thing) for papers published in its conference proceedings (and then turns around and charges twice!) . And it's not like the authors have to pay out of their own pockets -- just like attending conferences, grants can be used. And it's a trivial part of the grant. Typical grants these days are hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions. The $1500 needed to publish a paper in PLoS is a trivial cost compared to the cost of doing science (such as equipment, supplies for experiments, and paying grad student and postdoc salaries). What isn't trivial is the millions of dollars a year a typical university has to pay in journal subscriptions to "closed access" journals. The universities win with open access , the public wins (the get to see what their taxes pay for), the scientists win (more people read their papers) . The only losers are the publishers of closed access journals. Boo hoo hoo!
  • by danila (69889) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @10:32AM (#11888109) Homepage
    IEEE clearly makes a big deal of archiving, pretending that it is a very challenging and expensive endevour. But I suspect that if magazines released their works to the public without restrictive copyrights (basically releasing them into public domain) after recoupering somehow their initial costs, then quickly a host of independent archievers would emerge, just like it happened with Wikipedia. These archievers would then take care of distribution, backups, data migration, offline distribution, interface innovations, etc.
  • First Uesrs Pay (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TomRC (231027) on Wednesday March 09, 2005 @11:30AM (#11888743)
    Have the first person who "must read it" pay $100, the second $50, then $25, $15, $15 - about $200 net after credit card processing costs. Or whatever rate they figure out will be most likely to cover their costs.

    If there's no one out there that needs the article enough to pay $100, it probably wasnt worth writing. If an author thinks what they've written is important enough, they can pay the "opening cost" to get it available for free.

    Finally, IEEE should encourage companies to sponsor articles - it's a cheap way to get their name embedded into the text of an article forever, winning a little goodwill from everyone who reads the article for free.

Time is an illusion perpetrated by the manufacturers of space.