Main Elements of Expense Budgets for Some STM Journal Publications

First, the processing costs for the content (i.e., articles, reports of the results, and methods of scholarly investigation) of STM journals come in several subcategories:6 (1) manuscript submission, tracking, and refereeing operations; (2) editing and proofing the contents; (3) composition of pages; and (4) processing special graphics and color images. Internet publishing and its capacity to deliver more images, more color, and more moving or operating graphics have made this expense grow for STM publishers in the past decade.

The second category of expense is a familiar one, but is also one of two targets for complete removal from the publishers' costs—the costs of paper, printing, and binding, as well as mailings. As researchers educated and beginning their careers in the 1990s replace retiring older members of the STM research community, publishers might finally switch over to entirely Internet-based editions and distribute no paper at all. This transformation would thus move the costs of printing and paper to the consumer desiring articles in that form and remove binding and mailing from the equation altogether.

A third category of expense is that of the Internet publishing services. These are new costs, and they include many activities performed mainly by machines, though in some situations staff perform quality control pre- and post-publication to check and fix errors introduced through the publishing chain. The elements of these costs vary tremendously among publishers and Internet publishing services. At the high end they can include parsing supplied text into a rigorously controlled version of SGML or XML; making hyperlinks to data and metadata algorithmically; presenting multiple resolutions of images; offering numerous elaborate search and retrieval possibilities; supporting reader feedback and e-mail to authors; supporting alerting and prospective sighting functions; delivering content for indexing to secondary publishers and distributors, as well as to Internet indexing services; and supporting individualized access control mechanisms. At the low end, those characterized by PDF-only e-publishing, the cost elements would include simple search, common access control mechanisms, and delivering content for indexing. The range of costs in Internet publishing services is quite wide, although the actual size of this category in the expense budget is relatively small.

The fourth cost category—publishing support—is everything from catering of lunches, to finance offices, including facilities and marketing.

The final category is the cost of reserves. Some organizations have money set aside for disasters or to address opportunities. Some of these reserves are for capital projects or to hedge against key suppliers failing. A great many not-for-profit organizations do not label reserves as such but have investments or bank accounts whose earnings support various programs, but whose principal could be used in a reserve function as needed.

The results of a recent sampling by Michael Keller of six not-for-profit publishers' costs are presented in Table 3-1. The data were compiled in a wide variety of categories, so there is an element of interpretation in these results. The data are presented as a pair of ranges, one from the early 1990s and the other for the most recent data.


The cost budgets for Science and Nature, for instance, would have more elements than specified, and costs for secondary and tertiary publications include different elements than these. Mr. Keller did not cover these elements in STM publishing.

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