I Hear the Train A Comin

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					                                                                                                                                              c/o Katina Strauch
                                                                                                                                         209 Richardson Avenue
                                                                                                                                           MSC 98, The Citadel
                                                                                                                                           Charleston, SC 29409
                                                        SPECIAL REPRINT                                                                                            ™
                                                        VOLUME 18, NUMBER 1                                                            FEBRUARY 2006




ISSN: 1043-2094                                                    “Linking Publishers, Vendors and Librarians”


I Hear the Train A Comin’ —
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Column Editor: Greg Tananbaum (President, The Berkeley Electronic Press, 2809 Telegraph Avenue, Suite 202, Berkeley, CA
94705; Phone: 510-665-1200 x.117; Fax: 510-665-1201) <greg@bepress.com> www.bepress.com




S
         everal years ago, our company (The            business models for scholarly communication,          phy. The goal of a dynamic reference work is
         Berkeley Electronic Press) began              in nuance, rather than the broad brushstrokes of      not just to grow in word count or number of en-
         publishing peer-reviewed, born digi-          open access and commercial content? How did           tries. Rather, entries are meant to be evolving
         tal journals. As an experiment, we of-        their models emerge, where do they break from         rather than static, and can be changed as new
fered all of our articles under what we deemed a       the traditional norms of scholarly publishing,        developments emerge in the field. Each entry is
“quasi-open access” policy. The idea was that,         what have they learned to date from their ef-         maintained and kept up to date by an expert or
although we are a commercial publisher that            forts, and what do these lessons portend for the      group of experts in the field. Currently, an edi-
hopes to make money, we nonetheless would be           future?                                               torial board of 100 distinguished philosophers
best served by having as wide a readership as              Katina Strauch was kind enough to provide         oversee information across 45 topics (e.g., aes-
possible. We thus allowed nonsubscribers to            an excellent forum to examine these matters at        thetics, metaphysics). These board members
access our content by completing a short guest         the 2005 Charleston Conference. I had the             solicit contributions from authors around the
registration form. The form allows us to inform        honor of moderating a                                                 world (a small number of sub-
their library of their interest in reading our jour-   session entitled, “The                                                missions are unsolicited), vet the
nals. When libraries were convinced of suffi-          Confluence of Open                                                    drafts, oversee postings to the
cient interest in the journal, we reckoned, they       Access and Licensed                                                   site, and work with authors to
would subscribe, and afterwards access for all         Content.” The session                                                 keep their contributions current
faculty, staff, and students at that institution       examined a number of                                                  as the scholarship in their topic
would be immediate, with no more forms to fill         emerging models that                                                  evolves. In this latter regard,
out.                                                   rethink traditional di-                                               readers, too, play an important
    This model has proven to be a great success        visions between “free”                                                role. They are encouraged to
for us. Since that experiment began five years         and “subscription”                                                    contact the thousand or so con-
ago, we have begun deploying our technology            materials. Presenta-                                                  tributing authors directly with
in other areas of the academy as well, notably         tions were given on                                                   comments, corrections, and other
institutional repositories. Dozens of schools          the specific efforts of                                               suggestions for improvements.
now use our repository technology — Digital            the American Political                                                As of late 2005, some 750 entries
Commons, co-marketed with ProQuest. These              Science Association’s Political Research Online       have been posted to the SEP, typically in the
repositories house a wealth of interesting and         service (http://www.political science.org),           10,000 word range. For a complete list, see
valuable scholarly information. It seemed like         Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations              http://plato.stanford.edu/published.html.
a logical extension to us to capture and display       Review’s new home within the School of In-                While the content maintained within the
this open access content alongside the 30 quasi-       dustrial and Labor Relations’ institutional re-       Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the
open access commercial journals we publish             pository (http://digital commons. ilr.cornell.edu/    dynamic reference work approach are exemplary
under our own imprint. When we announced               ilrreview), Alexander Street Press’s “free to the     (indeed, the project recently received the Best
plans for this co-mingling — called                    world”              databases            (http://     Content Award from the Charleston Advisor in
ResearchNow — at ICOLC this past spring, it            www.alexanderstreetpress.com), and the                its Fifth Annual Readers’ Choice Awards), it is
met with intense discussion. Some felt strongly        Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s en-             the unique business model that I wish to exam-
that there are open access materials, and there        dowed content (http://plato.stanford.edu). In         ine in greater detail. The SEP is maintained on
are commercial journals, and conscious or un-          this month’s column, I will look at the latter as a   an annual budget of approximately $200,000.
conscious attempts to blur the line were prob-         fascinating case study of a new way to fund the       This includes 1.7 FTE, servers and other tech-
lematic.                                               dissemination of scholarly information.               nology, as well as a small overhead allocation
    This ICOLC debate over ResearchNow set                 The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy           from Stanford. With the project managers com-
me to thinking. Are there other projects that          (SEP) — located at http://plato. stanford.edu —       mitted to long-term unrestricted access for all,
rethink traditional divisions between “free” and       was launched in 1995 to serve as a “dynamic           several funding options were discussed. Even-
“subscription” materials? Who is charting new          reference work” covering all areas of philoso-                                      continued on page 85


84     Against the Grain / Special Reprint — February 2006                                                         <http://www.against-the-grain.com>
                                                      vest in some other worthy open access project
 I Hear the Train A Comin’
 from page 84
                                                      should this project ever cease.                          “Linking
                                                          So, is that warm feeling combined with these          Publishers, Vendors
tually, the SEP crafted a most unusual model.         practical benefits enough to secure mass partici-
                                                      pation? If the price is right, yes. In the United          and Librarians”
It convinced Stanford University, its host, to
partner with a number of libraries and library        States, the requested amount is $5,000 a year
consortia for the purpose of building a protected     for three years for Ph.D. institutions, $2,000 a
operating fund. In other words, they set out to       year for schools offering Master’s degrees, and
raise an endowment. After some negotiation,           $1,000 for institutions with undergraduate pro-
they enlisted the Southeastern Library Net-           grams. More than 400 libraries worldwide have
work (SOLINET), the International Coalition           committed to the project. Combined with a
of Library Consortia (ICOLC), the Scholarly           National Endowment for the Humanities chal-
                                                      lenge grant, the library fundraising arms secured
                                                                                                                Uncommon ...
Publishing and Academic Resources Coali-                                                                        Against the Grain is your key to
tion (SPARC), and Indiana University Librar-          commitments of $1.3 million in its first year.
                                                                                                                the latest news about libraries,
ies to raise $3 million over the course of 3 years.       To be sure, there is a free rider problem that        publishers, book jobbers, and
At the same time, Stanford agreed to raise            the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has               subscription agents. ATG is a
$1.125 million from private individuals and cor-      not fully overcome. Some schools have not con-
                                                                                                                unique collection of reports on the
porations. The intention is for the SEP to then       tributed (and may not be aware of the impor-
                                                                                                                issues, literature, and people that
live off the interest on that $4.125 million fund.    tance of their contribution), but nonetheless ben-
                                                      efit from the contributions of others. The SEP
                                                                                                                impact the world of books, journals,
    The Stanford fundraising tentacles are leg-                                                                 and electronic information.
end, but from what sources would the libraries        has an outreach plan that targets institutions
raise their share? Working with the Stanford          meeting criteria such as size, location, the kind
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, they drew up a            of degree in philosophy it awards, and so forth.
target list of libraries at academic institutions     When a reader from one of the targeted institu-
offering degrees in philosophy. Beyond the            tions attempts to access an entry, the system (us-
warm feeling one gets from contributing to the        ing IP checking) returns a note at the top of the
greater good, the libraries were provided some        page gently reminding the reader to speak to his/
concrete incentives and assurances. The SEP
Web pages accessed by participating universi-
                                                      her library about the benefits of financial par-
                                                      ticipation. The hope is that, much like NPR’s
                                                                                                                Unconventional ...
                                                      pledge drives (or bepress’s own quasi-open ac-            ATG is published six times a year, in
ties’ readers are to be stamped with a custom-
ized banner acknowledging the support of the          cess policy), the demonstrated researcher inter-          February, April, June, September,
local library. Contributing libraries have access     est will convince the library to support the              November, and December/January. A
to the Encyclopedia’s quarterly archives as a         model.                                                    six issue subscription is available for
single compressed file, providing a local archive         The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy               only $40 U.S. ($50 Canada, $70
option should the project ever terminate. Im-         is forging a new path in scholarly publishing. It         foreign), making it an uncommonly
portantly, contributors are ensured governing         is neither a subscription service nor an author           good buy for all that it covers. Make
input over the project.                               pays model. Its content is free, but only so long         checks payable to Against the Grain,
    Another intriguing aspect of the Stanford         as the community that benefits from it provides           LLC and mail to:
Encyclopedia of Philosophy funding model is           the necessary funding to attain its endowment                   Katina Strauch
this: Stanford University has agreed to return        threshold. It is operated not by individual schol-              209 Richardson Avenue
all library contributions (together with any in-      ars or university administrators or libraries, but              MSC 98, The Citadel
terest and appreciation in excess of the annual       by a combination of all the above. Will the                     Charleston, SC 29409
payout) should the SEP project ever terminate.        Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy suc-                  ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
                                                      ceed? Early returns, both in terms of content
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This is a unique element in the business plan:
the libraries will see that their contribution ap-    quality and financial planning, are promising.
preciates through endowment management as it          Will the model be replicated and extended by
is put to work, yet is protected so they can in-      others? Time will tell.
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Against the Grain / Special Reprint — February 2006                                                        <http://www.against-the-grain.com> 85

				
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