Friday, June 01, 2007

NASIG 2007: "What's the different about the social sciences?"

Leo Walford from Sage Publications presented this session in which he compared the characteristics of social science journals (and social science and scientists) and science, technology, and medical (STM) journals. Some of the points he made were:
- Social science journals are seen as smaller, less technologically demanding, and not published by large STM publishers. They are, therefore less expensive.
- How relevant is pricing in the world of big deals? While subscription prices increased between 1988 and 2005, the average price per page actually dropped by about 25% as a result of 'big deals'.
- Scocial scientists are less aware of the opportunities afforded by open access that are STM scholars but share a trend toward fewer visits to the physical library with them.
- (this is the point I found most interesting) Since the social sciences receive dramatically less grant funding compared to STM, when they apply the standard 1 to 2% of grant funds to paying for open access to their research publications they don't end up with enough to support the author pays model of open access that is becoming prevalent in STM publishing.
- In addition, social science journals have a longer shelf-life (meaning they are useful/cited for a longer period of time in general than STM journals), which leads publishers to impose longer embargos on their content, which makes the failure of the author pays model of open access that much more of a problem.

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