Allen Bard: But the author, if I can interject, from our experience doesn't do that great a job. Most authors don't want to be publishers, and so they will do something, but it is not what the publisher does. It may be still legible, and it depends on what you want to get out of it.
Robert Lichter, Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation: I have a series of questions. From discussions I have had over the last couple of years with a number of folks—librarians, publishers, ACS people—I do want to commend ACS for really taking the lead on this and looking out for the interests of its membership.
One librarian, in a discussion about the societies versus commercial publishers, said with considerable heat and no small amount of vigor that ACS is a business, and one should not distinguish between ACS and commercial publishers. I tried to argue that, but I would like to hear from other people about some of the arguments for making that distinction.
Another question I have regards your comment about scientists preferring to publish in prestigious journals. What actually defines a prestigious journal when you really get down to it?
Third, there have been increasing calls for sort of self-published journals—the journal that publishes perhaps 20 papers a year on a super-specialized topic—arguing that because the costs can be so low, it is possible to have any number of these small highly specialized journals, more specialized than the current specialized journals, and that that is a good thing for communication of scientific results. You have probably heard this, too.
I would like to hear your views and others' views on that assertion.
Lorrin Garson: On the issue that ACS is a business, the ACS does run in a businesslike manner, no question about that. If we didn't, we would be out of business. The fact is the ACS is a legitimate not-for-profit organization, and as I said earlier, we are also not-for-loss. A librarian or any other individual certainly could look at the ACS as a commercial business because it is run in a businesslike manner, but the reality is that the ACS is it not a commercial publisher. I doubt if there will be any resolution of this debate.
Robert Lichter: The next question was that of the very small, specialized journals that can be published so easily. The argument is whether that is good for scientific unity.
Lorrin Garson: I think that the biggest single thing missing in that model is marketing. That notion implies that one doesn't have to market, that you can put up a journal on the Web, send a few e-mail messages to your friends, and everybody will know about it. It doesn't work that way. Marketing is a very important part of publishing.