e-journal budgets Stevan Harnad 16 Jun 1995 21:46 UTC

> Date:         Fri, 16 Jun 1995 09:12:01 EDT
> From: Kevin Ward <ward@alexia.lis.uiuc.edu>
> OK, I'll bite.  I would so much like to hear some real numbers that I now
> am asking about the operating budget of Psycoloquy.  In a recent issue of
> _Serials Review_ you mentioned that Psycoloquy operated on $15,000 per
> year - So I am requesting a break-down of that amount.  Perhaps then we
> all can compare that itemization to our own working budgets - those of us
> in the print world.  It seems a bit slim, $15,000, but I guess if you are
> doing it it must be possible.  Or is there a large subsidy behind that
> number?  Is all this talk about 30/70 truly aimed at a universal e-journal
> industry or is it just for those who are sitting pretty behind a
> university-sponsored server who also receive free system administration?
> Trust me, if this can be proven through actual working examples, I - and
> most likely several others - will be converted to this model.  It is
> really the time to pass these 'abstract calculations' and hear from those
> who are producing e-journals about the 'real' costs involved.

Glad you asked. No secret hidden subsidies so far! But Psycoloquy is
atypical for one specific reason, so not the right journal on which to
base extrapolations: It is a journal of Open Peer Commentary. Most
journals are not. If an article is accepted, there is a call for
multiple commentary. The only journals like this are (1) Current
Anthropology (CA) (published by University of Chicago Press), (2) the
paper journal I edit, Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) (published by
Cambridge University Press), which is explicitly modeled on CA, and (3)
3-4 further Open Peer Commentary journals (such as Psychological
Inquiry and New Ideas in Psychology) that are modeled on BBS.

Nor can I compare Psycoloquy's budget with BBS's because Psycoloquy's
submission rate is still so much lower. One day it may be possible to
compare, but not yet. The comparison now would be flattering to
Psycoloquy, but meaningless because of the scale differences.

I think the best comparisons will be with conventional journals with
comparable subject matter, submission rates, acceptance rates, annual
article quotas, and readership. (To be most informative, they should
also be equal in number of years of publication, so new journals are
compared with new journals, where start-up costs can be compared, and
low initial volume can be equated.)

So far, I think some of the new maths and computer science elecectronic
journals are in the best position to provide data for comparing with
their paper homologues, but there may be others. Comparing Psycoloquy
to BBS at this point would really be misleading.

I might add that Psycoloquy's budget is about to grow a bit, in order
to set up a system to hypertextify it. That will be in the category of
temporary seeding costs, however, rather than long-term costs.

The breakdown of Psycoloquy's 15K subsidy from the American
Psychological Association is easy: It all goes into paying Editorial
Assistants and Copy Editors to (1) handle the refereeing correspondence,
(2) copy edit and format accepted articles, and (3) maintain the
listserv version. With the hypertextification grant, there will also be
the cost of (4) html mark-up.

    Stevan Harnad
    Editor, PSYCOLOQUY (sci.psychology.digest)

    Department of Psychology
    University of Southampton
    Highfield, Southampton

    phone: +44 1703 594-583
    fax:   +44 1703 593-281