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Executive Summary The Symposium on Electronic Scientific, Technical, and Medical (STM) Journals and Its Implications addressed these issues in five key areas. The first two--costs of publication and publication business models and revenue--focused on the STM publishing enterprise as it exists today and, in particular, how it has evolved since the advent of electronic publishing. This was followed by a review of copyright and licensing issues of concern to the authors and to universities. The final two sessions looked toward the future, specifically, at what publishing may be in the future and what con- stitutes a publication in the digital environment. COSTS OF PUBLICATION The initial session identified the main elements of expenses (both print and electronic) for many STM journal publications. It was quite clear from the presentations that understanding all the cost elements in the budgets of different publishers is not straightforward and that a comparative analysis, in particular, would be very difficult to do well. At the same time, some speakers indicated that such a study, if done carefully and authoritatively, could be very useful in adding some rigor to the ongoing debate about the high cost of journal subscriptions and the value that publishers bring to the process of scientific communication. Other cost-related issues that were discussed included the creation and operation of digital archives and the digital conversion of back sets; the 1
2 ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING costs of new technology and related cost-containment strategies and the difficulty of moving from print to electronic-only versions; strengths and weaknesses of the peer-review process; cost issues specific to small and mid- sized societies; and the vulnerability of secondary and tertiary publishers. PUBLICATION BUSINESS MODELS AND REVENUE This, understandably, was the most contentious part of the sympo- sium. A number of trends in commercial STM journal publishing were described at the outset. These include the bundling of publications by ma- jor publishers in "big deals"; the consolidation of publishers and the target- ing of downstream competitors (secondary publishers and subscription agencies) and of vulnerable competitors; diversification of the customer base to more business clients (and a concomitant emphasis on applied re- search and engineering journals); and market responses to open-access trends, including the creation of meta-content (e.g., documentation and search engines for the open-content resources) and a shift to Web services (e.g., substitutes for the publication of fixed content in print by providing online software, processing, and services for users). This discussion of commercial publishing trends was followed by the perspectives of a university librarian, a commercial journal publisher from John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and an open-access representative from the Pub- lic Library of Science (PLoS). The library overview included some statistics and anecdotal information about the responses of libraries to rising sub- scription costs and the bundling efforts of commercial publishers; the im- plications for libraries of changes in electronic journal formats and content, and of digital scientific communications more broadly; and the changing role and influence of libraries in the digital publication context. The description of the commercial subscription-based model used at John Wiley & Sons highlighted the benefits to readers from this traditional approach and the reasons why Wiley would not switch to the author-pays, open-access model.1 This was followed by the description of the PLoS 1According to the definition presented by the Public Library of Science later in this report, an open-access publication is one that meets two conditions. The first is that the copyright holder (either the author or the publisher, if the copyright has been transferred to the publisher) grants to the public a free, irrevocable, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, distribute, perform, and display the work, and to make and distribute deriva-
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 model, including the rationale for reconceptualizing the STM publishing business model on the Internet, the definition of "open access" used by the PLoS, and the advantages of this approach for science. A vigorous and informative discussion ensued among the panelists and with the audience about the relative merits of the traditional user-pays pub- lishing model versus the author-pays PLoS model. Other related issues were discussed, including the practical difficulties in transitioning to the open- access publishing model, support of the open-access publishing approach by research sponsors, the effect of different publishing business models on the long-term preservation of digital journals, and advertising revenues in electronic publishing generally. The results of these discussions appeared to be inconclusive. On the one hand, commercial (and professional society) publishers clearly add con- siderable value to the process of formal scientific communication, and the viability of the author-pays, PLoS type of open-access model is still un- tested and its future success uncertain. On the other hand, the restricted, subscription-based model clearly has great inherent social costs in compari- son with the immediate, free access by any and all users of the information worldwide that the open-access publishing model makes possible. Many participants believed that we are in a period of important experimentation, in which the open-access approach will be tested and refined and in which the traditional publishers will try new approaches and attempt to add more value to STM products and services. A greater differentiation between the practices of commercial and society publishers also may be expected. For example, there are hybrid approaches being implemented in the traditional subscription-based publishing community, mostly by the not-for-profit STM publishers. Moreover, there are other open-access approaches such as self-archiving by authors and open institutional repositories, as discussed in other sessions of the symposium. tive works in any medium for any purpose. The second condition is providing readers with open access to the work. Authors or publishers achieve open access by making a complete version of the article and all supplemental materials available in some suitable standard elec- tronic format, deposited immediately upon publication in at least one internationally recog- nized, independent online repository that is committed to open access.
4 ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING LEGAL ISSUES IN PRODUCTION, DISSEMINATION, AND USE The focus in this session was on copyright and on licensing issues in the traditional publishing business model. With regard to copyright, there are divergent practices at universities as to whether the university or the author owns the copyright to publications, and in the various derogations from those rights. The question of transfer of copyrights from the author to the publisher, and the limited rights granted back by the publisher to the author, was discussed as well. The licensing issues pertain to the terms and conditions that publish- ers and libraries negotiate for site licenses, and to licenses between authors and publishers. The libraries have continued to experience two significant problems in negotiating site licenses, both related to the overall problem of access restrictions: the various limitations and prohibitions on "interlibrary loans" of electronic copies and the problem of long-term preservation of material that is electronic-only under the restrictive licensing regime. Both of these factors inhibit libraries from switching to electronic-only subscrip- tions. As to the licenses between authors and publishers, two models were suggested that serve the author's interests better: either retain copyright, while licensing the publisher to deploy the work in all ways that the pub- lisher needs for effective publication and dissemination, or transfer copy- right to the publisher, with more rights reserved to the author, such as permission to redistribute the work. Issues raised in the general discussion included a description of addi- tional problems with the transfer of copyrights by authors in universities (i.e., the author may not own the copyright under the university policy but may not know that, thereby signing void copyright transfer agreements) and significant problems associated with university work-for-hire ap- proaches to academic publications. The burdens for small publishers in developing countries from licensing practices and from restricting access were also discussed. WHAT IS PUBLISHING IN THE FUTURE? The final two sessions of the symposium looked more toward the fu- ture, by identifying some of the technology-enabled trends, processes, and projects that are indicative of what may be possible and what may perhaps become more widely adopted. As was noted in the introductory comments for this session, it is quite clear that the digital revolution is changing the
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 5 traditional processes of many knowledge-intensive activities, in particular STM publishing and scholarly communication more generally. The vari- ous functions--whether metadata creation, credentialing review, or long- term stewardship--can be separated or disaggregated, and players different from those who traditionally have carried out these tasks can, in theory, perform them. Publications can now exist in many intermediate forms, and we are moving toward more of a continuous-flow model, rather than a discrete-batch model. The raw ingredients--the data, the computational models, the outputs of instruments, the records of deliberation--can be online and accessible by others and can be used to validate or reproduce results at a deeper level than traditionally has been possible. Third par- ties--particularly in an open-access, open-archives context--can then add value by harvesting, mining, enriching, and linking selected content from such collections. The presentations in this session of the symposium identified some of the social processes, specific pilot projects, and the challenges and opportu- nities that may provide the basis for future "publishing processes," which ultimately may be more holistically integrated into the "knowledge cre- ation process." For example, there are emerging open recommender and reputation systems that use the online environment to get broader public feedback and to develop new indicators of user behavior. Although there are potential problems, such as "gaming" the system, eliciting early evalua- tions, and "herding," whereby later evaluators are unduly influenced by previous evaluators, there are some experiments that could be tried in the STM publishing context. Preprint servers, such as the well-known e-Print arXiv established initially for the high-energy physics community by Paul Ginsparg at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, have now been adopted by some other fields. Open institutional repositories, such as the MIT OpenCourseWare project and the MIT-led DSpace consortium for the de- posit of various types of research materials in an openly accessible archive, provide additional examples of innovative projects and models. Despite the exciting possibilities raised by these different initiatives, the subsequent discussion raised a number of potential difficulties in implement- ing some of these new approaches. Some of the issues raised included caution about an over-reliance on statistical indicators or metrics in judging the qual- ity of information or of publishing activities; the relative merits of the tradi- tional, confidential peer-review process and a more open review system; the constraints of the discrete-batch, print model on adopting some of the more
6 ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING open, continuous-flow processes; and the inherent tensions between the cre- ation of various open archives and the traditional publishers. WHAT CONSTITUTES A PUBLICATION IN THE DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT? The final session built on the technology-oriented concepts and pro- cesses introduced in the prior session. Publication used to refer to the act of preparing and issuing a document for public distribution. It could also refer to the act of bringing a document to the public's attention. Now, publication means much more. It can refer to a document that is Web- enriched, with links, search capabilities, and potentially other services nested in it. A publication now generates usage data and provides many other functions. This session examined three innovative examples--the Signal Transduction Knowledge Environment of Science, the publishing of very large data sets in astronomy on Web sites and through the Interna- tional Virtual Observatory initiative, and genomic data curation at the Na- tional Center for Biotechnology Information and the integration of those data with the scientific literature. Issues raised in the discussion included the need for federal coordina- tion and investment in the cyberinfrastructure to maximize the opportuni- ties for information integration and knowledge creation, some of which were identified in the final two sessions; the difficulties of quality control and review of data in very large or complex databases, particularly in the biological sciences; restrictions on data mining in proprietary STM infor- mation that is based on publicly funded research; the opportunities for knowledge discovery from the open publication of large and complex data sets; the transformation of the archiving function in the knowledge discov- ery process; lost opportunities associated with insufficient people and re- sources focused on the avalanche of data in all disciplines; and the positive role of the journal publishers in the successful development of databases in molecular biology.