I think it's worthwhile, as a group and as librarians (some of us) or information professionals, for us to think through why journals exist, why new journals are created and when it is legitimate for new journals to be created. It sometimes feels like we're feeling a little hateful and threatened because of the various budgetary pressures we're under and our professional need to give our customers what they want/need.There were some very good replies, namely that there are few journal failures in STM -- they live indefinitely, get bought by one of the biggies or merge into something else. Can libraries *not* buy a journal? Should we campaign against new journals? I guess it depends on our users. NPG has not paid any attention to these conversations, btw, as far as I can tell. Most libraries have cut to the bone already, and can't cut more to get new good journals. Are they really serving their customers? They're really trying.
There's been talk of disaggregating the journal since at least the 80s, but journals remain. Part of the reason is what Price (1986) talked about with the reward structure: scientists publish results -- give away valuable information -- to received recognition. Sure, there's some altruism, too. The journals also collect articles and make them findable for outsiders and peripheral participants in the "invisible colleges". Most fields have really accepted electronic versions of print journals -- but all-e and open access are not equally well accepted across the disciplines.
We had a discussion, started I believe by Peggy Dominy of Drexel, at the Physics-Astro-Math section meeting at SLA last year asking why IOP felt they needed new niche journals when other competing professional societies were releasing similar journals at the same time. The publisher representative said that the new journals were demanded by the institute's members because these members felt that their niche area was not well covered by other journals. We can also look at this as a reward-recognition thing for editors and journal founders.
I can imagine several legitimate reasons for new journals: to co-locate articles currently dispersed through various general journals, to further divide a journal that's starting to look like a phonebook, to represent the interests of a new society/division/paradigm/research area...
No doubt some of these journals will succeed and some will fail. Also, in many fields a researcher has lots on her mind when she chooses where to submit an article -- more than just best fit or impact factor.
Nature Physics makes no sense to me, at all, except as others have said, Nature apparently wants more money. So what am I saying for librarians? I think we have to look at journals as we always have, individually on a cost-benefit model and also consortially on a cost-benefit model. I think just about every subscription should be reviewed to see if we can cut it to make room for new, good journals. Nothing is safe.
A February 21 post entitled “Too many papers, too many journals” discusses the ongoing issue of “journal fragmentation.” Velterop poses the question as “how much scientific information should be made available, i.e. published?” As posed, it’s hard to disagree with his answer: “I think it should be as much as possible. There is no place for ‘quantity control’ of information.” He goes on to note that, in some respects, not enough information is being published—e.g., negative results rarely get published (although that may be changing).I admit to not having read Velterop's original post, but it seems like he's a bit on the same path. As you can see from my comment to the listserv, I do believe that journals have a place as Walt says for browsing, but also for reputation, recognition, peer review -- essentially why they were started in the first place. The in-group in the invisible colleges have never needed to read articles from a published journal to know what is going on in their field--they're linked in. It's the new or peripheral researchers who need the journal to find things. I think some publishers would like to get rid of the journal and have a publisher-wide (brand-wide?) impact factor -- some of the reason for the big Evil's indivisible journal packages and NPG's incessant launching of journals. Anyway, there are many reasons an author picks a journal (hm, I bet there's a paper in this, in fact there probably has been a paper on this) and the smallest one might be that the journal's appropriate for the article.But 'information' is not the same as ‘amount of articles.’ We all know about ‘salami-slicing,’ when a given amount of information is published in a number of articles, where putting them in just one article would be perfectly reasonable and possible. This is of course a consequence of the ‘publish-or-perish’ culture that has taken hold of science.
He discusses publish-or-perish and the quest for the highest possible Impact Factor; it’s an interesting discussion. Seeking the highest IF creates a “major inefficiency” because it results in too many “speculative submissions” to journals with very high Impact Factors, rather than directly submitting articles to the most appropriate journals. “This in turn has lead to overburdening of peer-reviewers, high rejection rates, time-wasting” and other problems.
I take mild issue with the next paragraph, in which Velterop says, “In the modern world, journals are just ‘tags,’ ‘labels’ that are attached to articles.” That may be true for virtually all STM journals; it has certainly not been true historically for some journals in other fields, where the journal itself is more than the sum of its refereed articles. It trivializes the journal qua journal; maybe that’s the way the world is going, but I don’t have to like it. Velterop also seems to dismiss browsing, which has always been one use of a field’s top journals.
11,875 / 14,875
3,500 / 8,000
This week consists of very sad days. I am overseeing the dismantling of our library. All of the [company's] research libraries worldwide are closing, mainly because upper management believes that "everything is available online" and the space could be put to better use. But the scientists who are actually doing the work disagree, especially the chemists.If anyone's wondering, the name of her company is given in a previous post. That's when she mentioned that she couldn't get full retirement despite giving them 30 years and that she was put on the "closing the library" team. She's taking it much better than I would -- a good chemistry librarian is worth her weight in gold.
This week, representatives from the departments can come in and take any books for departmental collections. Yesterday was day 1 and the big rush since people wanted to have first crack at the resources before some other group scooped them up. Since we are not keeping any kind of record of what is being taken, I have no hard numbers but I guessimate that over 2000 books were taken yesterday by these people. So instead of a central library where materials are being tracked, there will be collections in various departments and buildings but no way to know what is where.
Instead of a central library, scientists are expected to buy whatever books they need to consult if it is not available online. And, surprise, many of the scientific books still are not. The several people within walking distance may have purchased a copy of the book that they could consult but they will have no way to know that. When the money spent on personal books and subscriptions balloon within the department budgets, management will still point to the line item for libraries that will now be zero and say that they saved money.
Last week I worked with a group of scientists who are setting up a “Reading Room” containing 1500+ of the library’s reference books. There is a budget within one department being established to update this collection and they are looking for someone with “an interest in libraries” to help maintain the collection. I had to laugh when I was told this since this is the way that many corporate libraries got started.
If I were a Springer-Verlag Graduate Text in Mathematics, I would be Frank Warner's Foundations of Differentiable Manifolds and Lie Groups.
I give a clear, detailed, and careful development of the basic facts on manifold theory and Lie Groups. I include differentiable manifolds, tensors and differentiable forms. Lie groups and homogenous spaces, integration on manifolds, and in addition provide a proof of the de Rham theorem via sheaf cohomology theory, and develop the local theory of elliptic operators culminating in a proof of the Hodge theorem. Those interested in any of the diverse areas of mathematics requiring the notion of a differentiable manifold will find me extremely useful.
Which Springer GTM would you be? The Springer GTM
Christina's LIS Rant by Christina K. Pikas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
Christina Kirk Pikas
Where am I?