PLOS ONE Output Falls Following Impact Factor Decline

Bosman, J.M. (Jeroen) j.bosman at UU.NL
Fri Jul 4 01:14:30 EDT 2014

Dear David,

>From your first lines I deduce that you admit there is value in universal free access to scholarly publications. Glad to have convinced you there ;-)

As for the cost of scholarly communication, I never said there was no cost, just, by insisting on open access, that the burden of that cost should not lie with the reader. You are not giving insight into what 'significant cost' amounts to. I think current technology allows us to organise scholarly communication at a fraction of the cost of the traditional subscription model. I think the 20-30 percent open access papers you encounter in Google Scholar are far superior to any paywalled journal if you haven't got access to that journal (unless it is such junk that is it a waste of your time). By using the word 'usually' in your statement on social systems you leave the option open that there might be systems having a structure for not so good reasons. I think we found one! It is the subscription model. At one time it had its 'good reasons', but they have become obsolete by technological innovations. The most striking other example of systems in place for bad reasons is of course slavery, I think you would agree with me on that. I am not saying the problem of the subscription model is similar to that of slavery, because it is only peanuts in comparison, and a problem that history will show lasted much shorter. But is is striking that both involve free labour.

But let us not quarrel on Open Access on this Sigmetrics list. Let us measure and hypothesize the behaviour and needs of the (future) research community and how current systems cater for those needs. Let us discuss the future role of the journal format and the future role of the paper format. There is still so much room for improving the speed, accuracy en efficiency of scholarly communication.


Op 3 jul. 2014 om 23:10 heeft "David Wojick" <dwojick at CRAIGELLACHIE.US<mailto:dwojick at CRAIGELLACHIE.US>> het volgende geschreven:

Dear Jeroen,

The fact that it would be nice if everyone had free access to every article is not an argument for the unsustainability of subscription journals. As for optimum scholarly practice, that requires that  publication be paid for somehow. Communication has a significant cost. I assume that you are familiar with the various methods that have been proposed. It is far from clear at this point that any is superior to subscription, so subscription looks pretty good. Social systems usually have the structure they do for good reasons, not to be wished away.

On Jul 3, 2014, at 4:48 PM, "Bosman, J.M. (Jeroen)" <j.bosman at UU.NL<mailto:j.bosman at UU.NL>> wrote:


>From daily experience I can tell that these needs are nearly unlimited. Even if a researcher wants to read the articles in which he/she is cited that probably means accessing many dozens of journals. Even if the researcher only subscribes to one journal, wanting to check references of  say 20 articles per year he reads in that journal again that may mean he needs to access dozens of different journals. So, yes even small insitutions often need very broad access, all the more so if we take into accout the needs of a few thousand students that come up with innovative ideas for papers, taking interdisciplinary approaches and just doing searches in Google Scholar and wanting to check what those papers are about. This is how science and higher education works nowadays. Every paywall is an obstacle to optimal scholarly practice.

Mailing authors is possible but a nuisance. Also researchers move around and die, so those adresses quickly become useless. It would be interesting to know how many articles worldwide that people do not have paid access to are obtained through mail requests compared to downloaded from university repositories. My guess would be 1 in 1000, but I will check using a small sample.

So no, your arguments so far do not convince me of the long term sustainability of the subscription model.

BTW it is far worse in the case of books.


Op 3 jul. 2014 om 21:39 heeft "David Wojick" <<mailto:dwojick at CRAIGELLACHIE.US>dwojick at CRAIGELLACHIE.US<mailto:dwojick at CRAIGELLACHIE.US>> het volgende geschreven:

ml How can there be a "tiny but broad" research institution? Each researcher's field is very narrow. If there are a tiny number of researchers then their journal needs are equally tiny, not all journals. Even Harvard does not need access to all journals.

Note too that a researcher can always get a copy of any article they are interested in simply by asking the author for it. That is why the author's email address is always provided.

There is nothing unsustainable about the subscription model.

David Wojick

At 02:47 PM 7/3/2014, you wrote:

Although as a librarian I would like to support your statement and claim more money from my institution I think the unsustainability of the subscription model is more fundamental and not a consequence of discrete policy or actions of stakeholders. It is caused by the unique value of each and every publication combined with ever growing publication volumes. Consider a tiny but broad research institution. To carry out top research they would need access to all journals, which is simply impossible to afford under the subscription model of access provision, thus preventing optimal research. The problem is becoming more apparent because of price increases that are at least partly due to increasing publication volumes. Any lasting solution should make it possible for anyone to access all published research. That means either a pay-per-view system or open access. The pay-per-view approach is not ideal because determining whether something is relevant requires full text access. That leaves open access as the only long term sustainable solution. Giving more money to libraries, and thus sticking with the subscription model, is not a long term solution.

Jeroen Bosman
Utrecht University Library

Op 3 jul. 2014 om 16:05 heeft "Al Henderson" <<mailto:chessnic at COMPUSERVE.COM>chessnic at COMPUSERVE.COM<mailto:chessnic at COMPUSERVE.COM> > het volgende geschreven:

ml If "the scientific journal system is probably not financially feasible anymore," it is because universities chose to decimate library spending. Beginning around 1970, they began to shift the financial burden of what Vennevar Bush called "conserving the knowledge" from universities to individual readers. Open Access has shifted it further -- to authors.

The decision to promote financial inputs for research, which creates journal articles, while demoting support for the output may have enhanced university profitability. But it fails to serve the basic goals of research.

The drop in PLOS ONE impact factor ratings probably has many causes, but it seems to me authors seeking readers may have found better results from being published in more specialized, well-targeted media. I wonder how many PLOS ONE articles were first rejected by editors elsewhere.

Best wishes,

Albert Henderson
former editor, Publishing Research Quarterly

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen J Bensman <<mailto:notsjb at LSU.EDU>notsjb at LSU.EDU<mailto:notsjb at LSU.EDU>>
Sent: Thu, Jul 3, 2014 8:59 am
Subject: Re: [SIGMETRICS] PLOS ONE Output Falls Following Impact Factor Decline


I understand that it costs $3500 to have an article published in PLOS ONE.
Times have been tough economically in the world, and this may have something to
do with the drop in submissions and publication.  You can post on arXiv for
nothing, and Google will get you there.  Google Scholar metrics show high
retrieval rates  from certain subject categories in arXiv.  This is the time not
of the open access journal but the open access institutional repository.  The
scientific journal system is probably not financially feasible anymore, given
high cancellation rates by academic libraries, and the open access institutional
repository will probably replace it..

Stephen J Bensman, Ph.D.
LSU Libraries
Lousiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

-----Original Message-----
From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics [ <mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU?> mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU]
On Behalf Of Paul Colin Gloster
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2014 4:51 AM
Subject: Re: [SIGMETRICS] PLOS ONE Output Falls Following Impact Factor Decline


Philip Davis sent:
|"Can the recent drop in February PLOS ONE publication figures be explained by|
|a decline in their Impact Factor last June?                                  |
|                                                                             |
|see:                                                                         |
|PLOS ONE Output Falls Following Impact Factor Decline                        |
| <> "                                                     |

Hari M. Gupta, José R. Campanha, and Rosana A. G. Pesce, "Power-Law
Distributions for the Citation Index of Scientific Publications and Scientists",
"Brazilian Journal of Physics", vol. 35, no. 4A, December, 2005
"[. . .]
Table I: Citations of the 20 most cited physicists from January 1981 to June
1997 [. . .] Table II: Citations of the 20 most cited chemists from January 1981
to June 1997 [. . .] [. . .] It is interesting to note that only two of them
(P.W. Anderson, and K. A. Muller, at the 13th and 17th places, respectively),
out of the 20 most cited physicists, and six (J. A. Pople, R. R. Ernst, J. M.
Lehn, R. E. Smalley, E.
J. Corey, and K. Tanaka, at the 2nd, 4th, 10th, 12th, 16th, and 20th places,
respectively), out of the 20 most cited chemists, are Nobel laureates.
[. . .]"
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