Economics and Usage of Digital Libraries: Byting the BulletSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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These models are first drafts. They contain flaws and omissions, some of which we have discovered although some may remain to be discovered. One example is that we were unable to separate subscriptions administration and maintenance from other publisher costs. We would have liked to represent costs associated with subscriptions by calculating part of the overhead as a percentage of sales income. This would reflect the fact that costs vary with the number of subscriptions. However, calculating the overhead in that way would have required a circular connection between model elements which is prohibited by the software package. It is important that we isolate subscriptions-related costs because they are eliminated when costs are recovered from authors. A fair comparison between models that recover costs only from authors and those charging subscription fees is impossible unless we can do so.
During 2001, L. Halliday built two models based on data from interviews with established commercial and learned society publishers, and with alternative publishers who publish from within universities. Subscriptions administration costs are isolated in these models.
Another important factor is the staffing level required to produce a digital journal. The models documented here were criticised as overstaffed. Halliday's work work during 2001, however, suggested that the models described here are understaffed. All of the activities associated with publishing the journal including production, marketing, and development are undertaken by these staff. Interview data suggest that a journal publishing 120 papers per annum on this basis would require two full-time employees. As staff costs and the overheads on them are the most substantial costs, alteration to staff levels would impact significantly on total costs.
Despite their flaws, these models have been useful for developing our understanding of the digital-journal production and delivery process, and for eliciting feedback. The models allowed us to explore journal publishing and elicited feedback that informed the design of a project, conducted during 2000 and 2001, during which Halliday built models that break journal publishing costs into discrete functions. Incurred by libraries, the costs associated with providing end users with access to digital journals were not modelled, as none of the librarians interviewed had a clear idea of the activities involved let alone the costs of those activities. The model building and simulation was supplemented with qualitative exploration of digital journal publishing and use. Many of the barriers to implementing `alternative' models or to the success of digital-only journals are cultural in getting authors to accept new charging mechanisms. Full details of this work have yet to be published.