PubMedCentral (fwd)

Stevan Harnad harnad at
Wed Sep 22 13:06:30 EST 1999

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 13:49:44 -0400
From: Mark Doyle <doyle at>
Subject: Re: PubMedCentral

> From: Lee Miller <lnm2 at>
> Date: 1999-09-22 09:49:28 -0400

> How has the income stream for physics journals been affected by the
> apparently universal use of the LANL archives in physics?

For Physical Review, not much, although online usage of Phys. Rev. D
(about 90% of which appears on LANL) seems somewhat depressed compared
to the other Phys. Rev. journals which don't have as large a percentage
of papers on LANL.

Since the late 60's, there has been a steady average 3% per year
dropoff in Phys. Rev. subscriptions. The trend has accelerated a bit
over the last year or two, but mostly this is attributable to things
like the Asian economic crisis and the strong dollar. There is no
indication that availability of papers on LANL is contributing to this

Furthermore, Phys. Rev. D submissions are actually increasing now
because of APS's forward looking policy. We have a copyright statement
that allows authors to keep (and even update) there papers on xxx and
we allow for direct submissions from xxx to the journals. I believe PRD
has benefitted overall by being receptive to the needs of the community
it serves.

For the very long term, we are examining what it would take to do away
with using subscriptions to support the peer-review process. There are
two big hurdles: 1) reducing the cost of handling electronic
manuscripts and 2) author/institution/funding agency acceptance of
paying submission fees up front. I don't think we can really impose 2
until 1 is accomplished and we make it clear that this will lead to
free reader access, at least to the article content itself. Other
services such as linking and searching and archival (pre-e-print-era
articles) access may  be offered on a subscription basis, but at least
the first two will have to compete with automated services provided by
e-print services. Many efficiencies for accomplishing 1 depend on the
authors taking more care in manuscript preparation and any benefit a
publisher like APS gets from this will also carry over to an e-print
archive. It may even come to the point where Phys. Rev. will just be an
overlay on an e-print archive, but we are still a ways from that.

None of this is particulary troublesome to APS because we aim not to
make money, but to diffuse knowledge of physics. So if we can
accomplish the peer-review function and the archiving using a different
economic model, then we will do it. Thus, we aren't idly sitting around
waiting for the subscription system to collapse, but instead we are
actively re-engineering our processes to blunt any impact of what may
be inevitable. The physics community is voting with their feet on the
importance of e-prints in their day-to-day research and this is
something that APS can not and will not ignore. Afterall, they are APS
and APS is they.


Mark Doyle
Research and Development
The American Physical Society

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