This is, to my mind, a quite astonishing report about Nature Publishing Group (NPG) hiking its proposed 2011 journal subscription charges to the University of California (UC) by 400%. (NPG is the company that runs the Nature Network blogging platform).

That’s right: 400%.

I know nothing about the ins and outs of this deal. I’m guessing that it’s an opening stance in a negotiation on price, but it is clear from a letter sent to all UC faculty that their staff are not happy. The letter lays out their case in some detail and their discussions about a possible boycott of the Nature stable of journals.

I’m hoping that similar deals are not being offered to UK institutions where budgets are shrinking rather than inflating.

I see the story has been picked up by Daniel Cressy at The Great Beyond, an in-house Nature blog. He has asked for a response by NPG, which I await with interest.

**Update, 10-6-10:** The NPG statement can be found here: (thanks to Bob and Lou for providing the link in the comments below).

**Update2, 10-6-10:** And here is the UC response to that statement (as a pdf).

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71 Responses to Inflation

  1. Eva Amsen says:

    I found the actual numbers more impressive than the phrase “400%”.
    “The current average cost for the Nature group’s journals is $4,465; under the 2011 pricing scheme, that would rise to more than $17,000 per journal, according to the California Digital Library.”
    “…all of the Nature Group journals the California system buys access to—67 in all”
    67 x (17,000 – 4,465) = 839,845
    Almost a million dollars more than before!

  2. Austin Elliott says:

    Wow. That is quite a story – definitely one to watch.

  3. Benoit Bruneau says:

    Does anyone read those NPG journals?

  4. Benoit Bruneau says:

    Kidding of course. Rather stunning development; wonder what caused that increase. And is that for print or online?

  5. Maxine Clarke says:

    Does anyone know how many staff (ie potential readers) are at academic institutions across California?
    I am informed that a statement from NPG will be available very shortly. See either the Great Beyond post for a link, or the press room at .

  6. Stephen Curry says:

    Benoit – I think the subscription is for the whole package which I imagine includes print and online access.
    It occurred to me over lunch that perhaps the response to Jenny’s article last week has been so overwhelmingly positive that NPG thought they’d try it on!
    Seriously though, I can’t fathom NPG’s tack. Clearly I am not cut out for business because to ask for 400% just seems, well, rude, especially in the current financial climate.
    And especially since the relationship between academic publishers and their readers (many of whom are also writers and reviewers) is so much richer and more complicated than a normal supplier-consumer connection.
    Let’s hope the forthcoming statement provides some enlightenment.

  7. Stephen Curry says:

    Maxine – 121,000 faculty and staff (see here) across 10 institutions. That sounds like everyone on the payroll. I’m pretty sure those numbers aren’t 400% up on last year…

  8. Frank Norman says:

    It is a steep increase, but not out of line with past experience. NPG produce high quality products and they know it and they know that researchers absolutely must have access to many of them. But there is only so much money available. Last time this happened to us we did trim some NPG titles and abandoned plans to add some new titles from NPG.
    @Stephen – I would expect that the deal is for online only. NPG tend to separate print and online pricing.
    I’m surprised that UC have gone so public – normally this kind of negotiation is bound by confidentiality.

  9. Stephen Curry says:

    Well I guess I’m surprised that you’re not surprised Frank. That must be quite a wrestling match that you librarians and publishers get up to.

  10. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Very interesting development. When I used to work as a journals manager, I was involved in the yearly price-setting decisions with our publishing partner and I must say 400% is unheard of. As Frank says, though, NPG has academics by the balls, because they publish must-read products. I could imagine if the Californians get really pissed off though, there could be some sort of guerrilla activity – cancel all subs and then start a grassroots campaign in which academics from other states and countries send pdfs to their beleaguered comrades in arms…

  11. Austin Elliott says:

    There is also the question of the potential damage to NPG’s reputation if they get tagged as “profiteering”. _Nature_ is only a must-read by “mutual agreement of the community”, if you get what I mean. They need reviewers just like everyone else.
    One of the “tensions” in journal publishing, most well described in the case of Elsevier, is when publishers (reportedly) try to get libraries and institutional subscribers to take their _less_ well read / rated offerings by trying to obligatorily bundle them in deals with the stuff that the institutions _do_ want (the “must read” journals). I wonder if that is any part of the backstory to this.

  12. Stephen Curry says:

    I gather from the letter linked to in my post that UC took on Elsevier and Cell Press in 2003 and, after a boycott led by Keith Yamamoto (who is still at UCSF), won the day.
    Seems like we have two tough competitors here.

  13. Austin Elliott says:

    *PS* As a PS to what Jenny said: in cases where a scientific learned society owns the journal and a publisher is contracted to publish it, the owning society typically has a large say over pricing (or even a veto on any price changes). Perhaps reflecting this, the learned society journals – at least the long-established ones – are generally understood to be cheaper than comparable journals which are set up and wholly owned by for-profit publishers.

  14. Richard P. Grant says:

    Hey, if UC go for it, do you think NPG will be able to afford to fix NN?

  15. Kevin Symonds says:

    My guess is that the deal they are moving to has changed so it is not only the normal large increase in cost we all have each year (or at the end of a deal) but they have been rebanded as a larger customer or as Austin mentions they are re-bundling. That could explain the % increase I suppose. Although I am guessing that it is also a starting point, not the end price Nature would be offering.
    There is an important point though. Nature is a business providing a product. You don’t have to buy that product. If you can’t afford something you don’t buy it and they can sell it at whatever price they think the market will take balanced against the ire of customers. If UCLA feel it’s not cost effective to get the journals then don’t do it. People are happy to have access to everything if asked, but if told they are paying for it they become less choosy.
    I find Jennifer’s point interesting about sending pdf’s as although that is often against the contract we sign that has never actually been tested in court has it?
    Can’t see any publisher wanting to be the first to try to enforce it.
    Funny point though as Nature is actually one of the best publishers in terms of Open Access publishing so they wouldn’t need to wait too long to get access to a lot of the articles anyway. It could be said that if the NIH had stuck to a 6 month deposit (or moved to an immediate deposit) policy rather than 12 months, issues like this would be less weakened as the publically funded research would be out there for all anyway. And the more OA there is the more of a journals output is available. You wouldn’t need the actual journal.

  16. Austin Elliott says:

    One of the big issues with journals (inc the learned society ones) is how long to keep paid-for content pay-walled (for subscribers only). The journals I am most familiar with have mostly been using a year, but the last time I sat through a discussion it was clear publishers reckoned they could turn a profit on six months (i.e. all content older than 6 months would be fully free access).
    Personally I wouldn’t lose much sleep over being unable to access stuff for 6 months after it hit the page – partly since I am old enough to remember having to go to print libraries and leaf laboriously through _Current Contents,_ and partly since if something was ultra-super-critical there would always be a way to get hold of it (see Jenny’s comment).
    NPG actually do paywall a fair bit of their content, at least in my experience – I mostly find this when I am trying to access historical stuff from my home PC.
    I must admit that publishers who block access to _all_, or most, of their archive material make me cranky. After all, virtually all the actual material in scientific journals was free (as in the authors earned nothing directly from it) and was produced with public money in the first place. I had a whinge about this a while back, which you can find “here”: (including a vaguely interesting discussion thread)

  17. Cath Ennis says:

    _”I’m guessing that it’s an opening stance in a negotiation on price”_
    The letter actually calls it an ultimatum from NPG, implying that this was a final rather than opening offer.
    The suggested boycott actions go well beyond cancelling subscriptions; it is being proposed that UC staff should resign from editorial advisory boards, and stop peer reviewing NPG articles, advertising open positions in NPG journals, and submitting articles to NPG journals. That’s a lot to ask of individual researchers, especially pre-tenure faculty looking for the cachet of a _Nature_ publication. I think I’ll be spending my lunchbreak reading more about the Elsevier-Cell Press incident to see exactly what it was that worked last time!

  18. Jennifer Rohn says:

    As far as sacrificing your Nature paper, that’s not such a big deal as most Americans consider Science to be slightly more prestigious. It might be a problem with high-impact sister journals of which there’s no prestigious equivalent, though.

  19. Graham Steel says:

    In days gone by (yes that was 2009), I would interject with something marginally irrelevant and deemed by a few, as witty.
    Changed days, *sighs*. MT4 #FAIL

  20. Stephen Curry says:

    Thanks for the comment Kevin. Given the reaction outlined in the UC letter, it’s not clear that the deal represents a 400% increase in content being offered. You also raise an interesting point about Open Access – I wonder how much of an income stream that is for NPG. If significant, that would seem to demand a reduction of subscriptions rather than a large increase.
    Austin – I am not happy to wait 6 months. This is the internet age after all!
    Jenny – I think faculty at UC would not take the decision to start a boycott lightly since it has a potential impact at so many career stages (as Cath implies). OK, Science is an alternative to Nature, but there are plenty of other of relatively high IF titles in their stable. As we well know, a paper in Nature or one of these other journals (NSMB, EMBO J. etc) can make or break a career or grant application.
    I do wish NPG would get on and make their statement…

  21. Austin Elliott says:

    Heh. I guess in the areas I work in (i.e. not mol cell biol) very little of relevance appears in _Nature_, Stephen. That’s what comes of working in a backwater.
    It is odd that NPG have still not said anything, at least judging from the lack of addenda to the post you linked on the _Great Beyond_ blog. It rather sounds like the West Coast Brotherhood have caught NPG on the hop.
    Anyway, it is quite exciting as a spectator sport. Perhaps the U of C will rechristen itself “The New Sons of Anarchy”:

  22. Stephen Curry says:

    Austin – I’ve never heard of Sons of Anarchy – was it any good?
    BTW – felt good to be able to delete that spammer’s comment – now gone!

  23. Frank Norman says:

    Re. NPG and open access, I think Kevin is referring to NPG’s generally permissive self-archiving policies rather than paid-OA. NPG are increasing the number of journals with paid-OA options, mostly the academic journals rather than the Nature-branded ones.
    I think Kevin could be right too about the reason for the increase – some change in model or banding rather than just a straight list price increase.
    In the past NPG haven’t gone in for bundles, though I think this may have changed. I think they have a gold bundle which is everything from the clinical titles to physics and geoscience.

  24. Alejandro Correa says:

    Mentioned in a comment here that it is a _”competition effect”_ (variable econometric), which is more likely, presumably because of his great rival _Science_ (EEUU).

  25. Stephen Curry says:

    You may well be right Frank but we won’t really know until NPG makes its statement (still not posted on The Great Beyond.
    I don’t have a problem with Nature competing with Science, Alejandro. I am unhappy with the apparent gouging of university library budgets.

  26. Frank Norman says:

    The statement from NPG is interesting – broadly as I had suspected. The ball is now in UC’s court.

  27. Bob O'Hara says:

    Frank – can you give a link? It’s not up at The Great Beyond yet.
    I can’t believe any publisher would institute a 400% rise – there has to be more than this. I should wait to see the NPG reply, I suppose, though.

  28. Bob O'Hara says:

    OK, “the statement is here”: – they just tweeted it. Someone at NPG looks pissed off.

  29. Lou Woodley says:

    The full press release can also be found “here”:

  30. steffi suhr says:

    From NPG’s statement:
    “As of today, individual scientists, both within and outside of California are already suffering as a result of CDL’s unwarranted actions.”
    Can someone explain this to me please – what does that mean?

  31. Kevin Symonds says:

    Nature say the data has been used out of context but in their statement they only show an increase to UCLA in terms of the reduction in the discount they are getting, ie the reduction from 88% to 50%. But that can’t explain the apparent 400% increase in cost that UCLA are telling us about. There has to be more, is it rebanding, or changes in coverage or something else? Or are they using the full list price as the ‘cost’ to them? I think the idea of confidentiality is kind of out the window now so one side needs to explain the difference one way or another otherwise we are stuck wondering who is giving us the whole truth, as something still doesn’t make sense.
    Frank is correct about my OA point. Nature is one of the best OA publishers I deal with. The papers in journals my unit has published with have been deposited by Nature into UKPMC within the 6 months (research council mandated) time and for free.
    This is totally different with for example ScienceDirect who will charge you $3000 a paper for deposit within 6 months.
    So there is no income stream for NPG in that situation with those journals.
    They are doing for free what other publishers say they need thousands of dollars for due to lost online and print sales.
    If a journal is purely OA then there is only a cost to the authors for publication (such as with PloS), not to the end users.
    Of course UCLA might not be able to pay for those open access publication costs in the future either if they did change the way they published. Translating their NPG articles over the last 6 years is: 5,300 papers at $2300 a paper* is $12,190,000. So it would still be a problem for them. It just potentially moves the cost away from the Library budget and into the scientists own budgets.
    *average of the 7 PloS paper publication costs.

  32. Stephen Curry says:

    The statement is certainly interesting and gives some clarification.
    Kevin – I think it does account for the apparent 400% rise in cost. UC are getting an 88% discount but NPG wants to move that to about 50%. That means UC have to go from paying 12% of list price to paying 50%, which is a factor of 4 increase. The NPG letter characterises the current discount as ‘unfair’ but that seems odd since presumably this price is a result of their previous agreement.

  33. Kevin Symonds says:

    Unfair as they were just too generous I would guess they mean.

  34. Stephen Curry says:

    Steffi – I didn’t understand that statement either.
    There is a bit more context on the UC CDL’s position here. Their main beef is that they can’t manage budgets or subscriptions sensibly without a reasonable degree of price stability. NPG may be correct in asserting that CDL currently has a discount that no other organisation enjoys (though that is not stated explicitly by NPG). But even so, if the playing field is to be levelled, it would seem reasonable to allow that to occur over a planned period, rather than abruptly.
    Clearly these negotiations are a complicated business. NPG may not be happy that it has come out into the open but it does give an interesting insight into a side of academic life that many of us might not think about very often.
    How fortunate they also run a blogging platform that allows these things to be discussed. 😉

  35. Kevin Symonds says:

    If they have just come out of a multi-year deal then they are coming out of one planned period where they were lucky,and now going to go into another one where they are not as lucky, but still better off than paying the full list price.
    Their next contract period will surely do the same thing again in that they give them a discount on the list price and lower costs for a set period. It’s just those planned periods cannot last forever and it’s not going to be as good a price as it used to be. But when is that ever the case? Prices always go up, not down.
    They obviously want to keep the NPG access but really if they can’t afford it they can’t afford it.

  36. Austin Elliott says:

    Is it as simple as _”If [the University] can’t afford it then they can’t afford it?_”
    It is a widespread view (at least amongst academics!) that academic science and medical journal publishing is an “extremely profitable”: (and reliably extremely profitable) sector of publishing. This is (again the academic view) seen to be because the basic “saleable” material (the papers) comes to the publishers for free, as does a lot of the labour involved in generating an ordinary (mostly papers + reviews) journal. The referees work for nothing, and over the last twenty years a lot of production work must have either disappeared (e.g. as DTP has replaced typesetting) or been transferred back to Authors (electronic submission of Ms in elaborately prescribed formats, inc diags – I hear my colleagues complain endlessly about the time they spend on this).
    The question is then: how _much_ profit should a publisher turn on a scientific journal? Is there a limit? After all, one assumes list prices are set, all else being equal, to generate a predicted profit margin. If this is a lot bigger in science journals than in other publishing sectors, then it is no surprise the big Universities are trying to use their market muscle (analogous to bulk purchase) to get the price heavily discounted.

  37. Mike Fowler says:

    Ummm, to go back to the title of this post, why is 7% such an honourable “cap on annual list price increases”, NPG?
    Unless you live in Zimbabwe, this is a higher rate of increase than most countries’ rate of inflation, and almost certainly a greater increase than most academic libraries will receive for their budget each year.
    And I’d like to echo “Steffi’s question”: – am I suffering because it actually makes me think of how much academics (and the taxpayer) contribute to NPG’s profits?

  38. Stephen Curry says:

    Just time for a quick pit stop – thanks to Kevin, Austin and Mike for your contributions.
    Just come across the response to MPG’s statement from UC – see here. Makes for very interesting reading. They reject the charge of ‘mis-information’ and provide more background to the negotiations.
    This exchange is proving very informative.

  39. Stephen Curry says:

    Kevin – the planned periods may not last forever and the price direction may always be upward, but as Mike — and the UC response (link in last comment) — points out, price rises in the past several years have been ~7% which is already above inflation (and any increase in university budgets). But even 7% pales against a 400% increase.
    Austin, on the pulse as ever, makes good points about value and price/profit that are echoed in today’s letter from UC. To pick up on just one point: NPG, rightly, points out that $4465 per title represents ‘excellent value for money’. But they have not really explained the reason for the sudden need to reduce that value for money by a factor of 4.

  40. Mike Fowler says:

    Kevin, many institutions have agreed a fixed fee with OA publishers, which allows researchers at those institutes to submit papers ad nauseum libitum, with no additional publication costs.

  41. Frank Norman says:

    Mike – I’d be interested to know which publishers offer that. BMC had a plan like that in the very early days but it rapidly morphed into a scheme where the price was revised each year to reflect the number of submissions. They have a number of schemes on offer. PLoS have a rather complex scheme where you get a discount by paying upfront.
    Stephen – We have been used to much higher than 7% in the past, but 6-7% has become the accepted average increase in the last few years. Publishers point out that their journals grow in size most years, publishing more papers, so the increase covers this as well as inflation. So it’s really all the fault of the researchers – if you would work slower and publish less prices would be lower 😉
    There’s more comments over at “_The Scientist_”:
    The UC response is interesting. It could be good that this issues is being aired in public now – for too long we have all been having the same private discussions with NPG. But will any other institutions/consortia add their voices to the discussion?

  42. Mike Fowler says:

    Frank: I was basing that point largely on the JRSM article that “Austin linked to above”:, and on vague memory from other blog discussions. I’d bow to your more direct librarial experience here, of course!
    I also enjoyed reading the UC response. It was far more thoughtful and detailed than the rather knee-jerk, hissy-fit response from NPG. I think most academics would appreciate far more visibility in these negotiations – exactly where are our overheads going? Can they be invested in more profitable appropriate ways?

  43. Kevin Symonds says:

    The UC response is very interesting. I think for the sheer scale of UC it’s an invaluable peek into that side of the publishing world.
    I think it all depends on the viewpoint you are coming from.
    Nature can charge what they like. If they think their journals are worth $17,000 a year then they can charge that much. They would have made the judgement of anger/lost business against the extra money coming in. It comes down to how much the customer wants the product.
    I’m not saying it’s fair, but when was that really an issue?
    It’s business, supply and demand, they are not some benevolent non-profit making commune, they are a massive publishing empire. It’s not a good idea to alienate your customers, but if you want their product you have to pay the price.
    The most interesting issue for me is not the battle over prices, rather what would be the impact of the loss of all Nature titles to UC if it came to that?
    Forcing the thousands of staff and students to go without NPG journals, finding alternatives, using more OA elsewhere and the loss of the reviewing work of UC staff to Nature as well as the bad feeling could have a much larger impact on the future of publishing than a simple price battle.
    I think a deal will be struck, but what if it wasn’t?

  44. Stephen Curry says:

    Frank – once these university cuts start to bite, we will be producing less. On that you can, rather depressingly, rely.
    Kevin – your case is very clear-sighted but I do feel it’s a shame it has come to this. From the very beginning (1869), the journal Nature has enjoyed a very close relationship with the scientific community and in very many respects that continues today. Of course subscriptions have to be paid and NPG has a responsibility to maintain itself as a profitable concern. But maybe some sight of that relationship has been temporarily obscured in the heat of the negotiations with UC.

  45. Stephen Curry says:

    Frank – thanks also to the link to The Scientist. Interesting comment there from Philip Bourne, who supports the proposed boycott: “It’s time to think seriously about what we’re doing here. There’s over emphasis on being in a top tier journal versus making the work more accessible to a larger group of people.”
    Of course, as editor-in-chief of a PLoS OA journal, he would say that, wouldn’t he? But it is something to think about.

  46. Mike Fowler says:

    Did anyone do the calculation of how much UC have spent publishing each article in Nature/NPG journals (e.g., via UC library subscription fees, which then also need to be paid for by everyone else to view the articles), compared to how much it would cost to pay an OA full rate for publishing (and allowing everyone else free access)?

  47. Stephen Curry says:

    From the 2-day silence, the answer would appear to be no, Mike… 😉

  48. Austin Elliott says:

    _”It’s time to think seriously about what we’re doing here. There’s over emphasis on being in a top tier journal versus making the work more accessible to a larger group of people.”_
    Hey ho – dream on.
    I know David Colquhoun is of a vaguely similar opinion, but…
    …as long as funding is scarce, and “you are screwed without it”:, and getting it (and other things, like tenure) is seen to depend on publishing “leading edge” work, and “publishing in _Nature/Science/Cell_” is seen to be a proxy for/testament to leading edge-ness…
    …”you do the math”, as the Americans say.

  49. Stephen Curry says:

    That is a serious log-jam Austin but I wonder is it mostly the life sciences that are fixated on publication in top drawer journals?
    I need to look into this more carefully but hasn’t the rise of changed the publishing landscape in Physics?

  50. Austin Elliott says:

    I hadn’t heard that, Stephen, but I would love to hear from the physical scientists if things are _really_ different there. As I have written about “elsewhere”: (plug plug!) I think the situation in life sciences is utterly unsustainable.

  51. Austin Elliott says:

    I think a key point emerging from this is that what sustains modern journal publishing in science is not so much the need for _journals_, as the centrality in the system of (or “need for”) established _hierarchies_ of journals. Which is an interesting distinction.

  52. Stephen Curry says:

    Maybe there are others lurking on NN who can speak more knowledgeably about Too many life scientists around here!
    I agree with your ‘key point’. To my mind, NPG has still not really explained its behaviour (though I’m not holding my breath since the remainder of these negotiations seems likely to happen behind closed doors). And this brouhaha does make you think of what the alternatives might be.

  53. Mike Fowler says:

    I was actually discussing the physics/maths approach to archiving last night, over a beer, under the stars, with another biologist, before I checked back here.
    My impression is that the archives are a good place to put things in order to get feedback from peers, but that journal publication is still required for a competitive CV in funding applications.
    I shall try to get more feedback from a genuine physicist friend (both genuinely a physicist and friendly) on this point. And maybe get him to do the above calculations.

  54. Stephen Curry says:

    Cheers Mike – that would be very helpful.

  55. Maxine Clarke says:

    ArXiv is a preprint server – in wide use. NPG also has one for the disciplines not covered by ArXiv (biology and chemistry, mainly) – Nature Precedings.

  56. Stephen Curry says:

    Thanks for that Maxine. I’ve never used such a server – bit nervous about posting pre-publication results!
    I stumbled across this presentation on Nature Precedings which is not entirely irrelevant to our discussion.

  57. Richard P. Grant says:

    SnarXiv is better, though.

  58. Cath Ennis says:

    Stephen, physicists seem to think about these things in a very different way to biologists! See “this post”: by Massimo Boninsegni, inspired by a conversation of mutual incomprehension we had over Skype…

  59. Stephen Curry says:

    Richard, are you sure that SnarXiv isn’t real physics – I find it hard to tell the difference. But then I discovered today on Imascientist that I find it hard to understand how magnets work…
    Thanks for that link Cath – I don’t entirely buy his evil reviewer scenario (who steals information from papers sent for review): I’ve only come across one instance of that myself but maybe it’s more prevalent in the medical sciences?
    But the idea of circulating pre-prints to establish priority does seem sensible. It is interesting to see the different cultures that operate in physics and in the life sciences. I wonder where that came from?
    And returning to the point of value, David Basanta here on NN has a short post linking to a report on the annual value of peer review in the UK – a cool £200m.
    Cough. Splutter.

  60. Cath Ennis says:

    I’ve heard of three or four such instances: someone asking a question at a conference talk that only someone who’d read a recently submitted paper would know to ask, said paper being held up in review for much longer than usual, and the person who’d asked the question at the conference then scooping the research with their own paper that duplicated my friend’s novel technique to the letter.
    That kind of thing.

  61. Stephen Curry says:

    Do you know of anyone every been held to account for such behaviour?
    We probably all have at least one anecdote. In my case I came across strong evidence that someone had copied experiments we presented at a conference when I was reviewing their paper. I notified the editor of my concerns – there was nothing that I could strictly prove. The only redress we got was that the editor agreed to take our own manuscript (almost complete at the time but very hastily finished) and, after its own review, that was published alongside the (to me) offending article.

  62. Cath Ennis says:

    Well, that’s the thing – it’s incredibly difficult to prove.
    The example I gave above happened to a good friend of mine. I tried to get her to make a complaint to the journal that had held up her own paper, but she had the worst PhD experience I’ve ever heard of[1] and just wanted the hell out of the lab with no further drama.
    fn1. She was co-supervised by two people who fell out in the first couple of months of her project and completely stopped talking to each other. And that was actually the least of her worries.

  63. Stephen Curry says:

    My goodness, that sounds awful! Not surprised she didn’t want to pursue the complaint. All is not wine and roses in the garden of science.

  64. Mike Fowler says:

    The news about arXive from the friendly physicist is pretty much as I mentioned “above”:
    As well as allowing feedback before submission and access to materials for journal/grant reviewers to evaluate those works “in progress” or “submitted”, it also serves as a “free” depository for (close to) published versions, which can be extremely useful for those working behind pay-walls. To quote my source, “the arxiv has a soft copyright which doesn’t interfere with the journals, in most cases”
    Apparently the physics community is more concerned with substance over style…

  65. Stephen Curry says:

    Many thanks Mike – so the physicists still go for peer reviewed journals as the ultimate destination of their work? Though Massimo Boninsegni’s suggestion—see Cath’s comment above—that arxiv helps to establish priority and forestall malicious scooping is something that might usefully extend to other fields.

  66. Stephen Curry says:

    And here is another ‘letter’ (published yesterday) on the UC vs NPG saga, from Bernd-Christoph Kaemper at Stuttgart University Library.
    It provides more background on NPG’s approach to subscription negotiations and seems not to pull any punches. The basic message is that he was *not* shocked to learn about NPG’s proposed price increases to UC. I’m still absorbing the content but think it’s well worth a read.

  67. Cath Ennis says:

    Yep, pretty damn awful. We considered making her story into a movie at one point. It was going to end with her in full Scottish warpaint shouting “you can take my sanity, but you’ll never take my THESIS!!!”

  68. Mike Fowler says:

    Stephen, yep, the peer review publication still trumps arXived material. I read and enjoyed Massimo’s view of this as well.
    Bernd-Christoph’s letter makes for pretty damning reading. If that’s the sort of context NPG were complaining was missing from CDL’s initial letter, I just can’t wait to see the next NPG installment:
    “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

  69. Stephen Curry says:

    A statement made last week by Carl H. Pforzheimer, Director of the Harvard University Library, suggests that concern about NPG’s pricing policy is not confined to California. To quote:
    “The University Library Council therefore commends our colleagues at the University of California as they pursue greater transparency in the economics of scholarly communication, an issue that goes to the heart of the academic enterprise.”

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