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By Ernie Tretkoff
For the first time in many years, the price for APS journal subscriptions will decrease for 2005, largely due to a technology-driven reduction in the cost of production.
As is the case for most scientific journals, the trend for APS journals, which include Physical Review A-E, Physical Review Letters, and Reviews of Modern Physics, has been increasing prices over the past several decades. In addition to normal inflation in the costs of production, the journals have been steadily growing in size every year, said Tom McIlrath, APS Treasurer/Publisher. The journals are expected to grow by 4% from 2004 to 2005.
While the size of APS journals has been increasing, the number of subscriptions has been decreasing. Large institutions have cancelled duplicate subscriptions because electronic access makes multiple print copies unnecessary, and smaller institutions have been forced to cancel subscriptions for financial reasons. This trend is seen throughout the journal publishing industry.
For 2005, APS will begin to reverse the trend of increasing prices by taking advantage of the cost reductions made possible by technology. For example, said McIlrath, software that automatically copyedits and formats manuscripts greatly reduces the manpower needed. Also, almost all manuscripts are now submitted on-line, saving the cost of having to reenter them. Outsourcing some of the production process to other countries accounts for some of the lowered costs, but technology is really the major factor in controlling costs, said McIlrath.
After hearing input from the Publications Oversight Committee, the APS Council set the journal prices for 2005, deciding to pass the cost savings on to libraries.
Journal prices are set to cover costs with some margin to allow for uncertainty in predicting costs and revenue two years in advance. "It was a clear decision that in these times of great pressure on libraries we would like to share the savings," said McIlrath Journals are priced according to a five-tier system, in which larger, more research-intensive institutions pay more than smaller, less research-intensive schools.
This pricing structure, which has been in place for several years, eases the burden on small, primarily undergraduate colleges, which use the journals less and are less able to carry the costs. Smaller schools may also join together with larger institutions to form a consortium.
These individually negotiated deals also help reduce the burden on small schools that might not otherwise be able to afford access to the journals.
The smallest institutions will get most of the benefit of the falling costs for 2005. These tier 1 schools, which account for 35% of all subscriptions, will see prices decrease 3%, while tiers 2 and 3, (54% of all subscriptions) will get a 1% decrease, and the largest institutions, tiers 4 and 5, will receive a smaller decrease of .5%. "Everyone gets at least something," said McIlrath.
These price decreases will apply to print-plus-on-line and on-line-only package subscriptions. Prices of individual journals have changed to account for differences in growth. For instance, the price of Physical Review E, which covers statistical, nonlinear, and soft-matter physics and interdisciplinary research, has increased for 2005, reflecting the especially rapid growth of these fields.
More information, including a full list of prices, is available at http://librarians.aps.org/institutional.html
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