Thursday, July 19, 2012

AGU journal commercialization deal announced

Via Ron Schott:

The American Geophysical Union, the world's leading society of Earth and space science, and Wiley-Blackwell, the scientific, medical, technical and scholarly business of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: JWa and JWb), a global provider of content and content-enabled services in research, professional development, and education, announced today that the AGU has selected Wiley-Blackwell as its publishing partner for its portfolio of journals and books. The new partnership will be effective January 2013, subject to completion of a publishing agreement in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding signed last week.
Full story here: I haven't actually cited (or even read) an AGU journal for a decade (unless EOS counts), but anyone who knows about geophysics is welcome to recommend alternative journals in comments.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Additional AGU publication update

The following additional information regarding the AGU journal publication process. It is an email from Dr. Chris McEntee, CEO. I would like to than Dr. McEntee and the AGU board for making this information available to the public, and for choosing this blog, instead of their own blog network, for these announcements. This was actually sent to me on Wednesday. However, I have been travelling and not checking the blog email. I apologize for the delay.

From: Chris McEntee Sent: Monday, July 02, 2012 2:33 PM Subject: Board Decision on Journal Publishing Partnership Earlier this afternoon the Board of Directors concluded its meeting during which recommendations from the working group evaluating publisher proposals were presented and discussed. The working group utilized the criteria developed by Council along with financial and operational criteria in arriving at their recommendations. Their deliberations included an evaluation of AGU’s internal journal publication capabilities compared to the publisher proposals. The working group appreciated and recognized the substantial effort that AGU editors and staff have made in improving AGU publications over the past several years and their solid and sustained commitment to journal quality. At the same time, the working group concluded that a partner would bring additional capabilities and expertise in publication strategy, processes, global reach, and ease of use and discovery by authors, editors, and readers that would significantly benefit AGU. The working group recommended that AGU partner on journal production, distribution, sales and marketing, and subscription management They also recommended a publisher with whom to partner. After thorough discussion, a motion to accept both recommendations was passed by the Board. The Board passed a second motion acknowledging and thanking AGU publications staff for their contributions and dedication to the high quality of the journals program over the years. The next step in the process is to draft a letter of agreement with the publisher selected. Once it is signed, we will be able to announce the name of the publisher and discuss why they were selected. We expect the letter will be signed within a week to 10 days. Once the letter is signed, we will begin determining the impacts on staffing. The results will be shared with staff affected as quickly as possible. We will also form a staff transition team to work with the publisher’s transition team. A revised AGU publications staff structure will be established and will include modified editor and author support for submission and peer review. The specifics of this structure will be shared with the AGU staff and editors once it is complete and determinations are made as to which current AGU staff will fulfill these roles. GEMS will remain the submission manuscript system for authors and editors. We know how difficult the past month has been for staff and that hearing the Board’s decision is not easy. as it will result in significant change for all staff at AGU. I am extremely proud of the excellent work of our publications staff. They consistently demonstrate a strong commitment to quality and fulfilling AGU’s mission. This decision is no way reflects upon their work. The reality is this: the global world of science and scholarly publishing today is vastly different than even 10 years ago. AGU simply cannot match the resources required to meet the needs of a 24/7 global science community of authors and readers. A partner publisher will bring these resources, assuring that AGU scholarly and scientific information maintains its high standard of quality and is readily accessible worldwide. Chris _______________________________________________ Chris McEntee Executive Director/CEO Ext: 510 Office: 5-A

More details on AGU publication privatization

The following email, dated 14 June 2012, has been forwarded to the Lounge. It contains several details on the plan for AGU publications:

From: AGU President To: (recipients' email addresses redacted) CC: AGU-Directors Subject: Update on Publications Partnership Evaluation To: Board, Council, Publications Committee, and Editors Our thanks to all of you who have emailed, commented on the secure web site, and participated in phone-in sessions regarding AGU's exploration of a publishing partnership. We wanted to share with you common themes in several of the concerns raised as well as our responses to them. Before getting into specifics of the issues raised, we'd first like to acknowledge that several people posed questions about roles, responsibilities, transparency, and participation in process. The elected leadership of AGU - Board of Directors and Council - continues to break new ground and chart new territory with the authority matrix and decision tree that were adopted as part of AGU's change in governance. We recognize this new structure is still unfamiliar to many members and that this has led to some confusion about the process. However, the decision to seek a publishing partner and the subsequent solicitation of input to guide criteria for selection are consistent with how our governance structure is intended to function. Many of the comments built upon the criteria noted in the online criteria discussion forum. Overall, there is significant concern surrounding conflicting goals of AGU and any potential partner publisher. This is a key concern of the members of the working group, as well. They will assess this issue thoroughly both through the publishers' responses to the RFP, their presentations, and their personal commitments, as well as through contract language if a partnering approach is chosen. Drilling down one level deeper, following are the major common threads we have seen and heard in the forum, conference calls, and emails received and our responses to them. 1. Cultural Fit: AGU's focus is on collaboratively advancing and communicating science. Publishers may not share these same values and support initiatives such as journal access for scientists in economically challenged nations. Response: Cultural fit, and even the personal relationship fit with key partner staff, is of the utmost importance. Keeping confidentiality agreements in mind, all finalist publishers have mission statements which are very similar to AGU's. Assessing the degree to which each publisher lives that mission is a key responsibility of the working group. Contractually, AGU will have decision rights for key publisher staff interfaces with AGU volunteers and staff. All finalist publishers participate in HINARI and AGORA - initiatives focused on supplying low-cost or free journal content access to scientists in economically challenged nations. 1. Ongoing Quality: While the publisher may promise and initially deliver high quality production and support processes including copy editing, once the contract is signed, these services will degrade to the lowest cost model for the publisher in order to maximize profit. Response: The finalist publishers all have decades-long experience producing many of the world's foremost journals including several in Earth and Space science fields - positions earned through high quality, high and growing impact factors, and strong relationships with their editorial teams. Revenue growth, which drives profitability far more than expense reduction, is directly driven by journal quality and impact. So it is fundamentally in the publisher's best interest to continually bring the highest quality science and journals to market. Contractually, publishers will be committed to minimum guaranteed returns to AGU, further reinforcing the need to maintain high quality and resulting revenues. 1. Open Access and Pricing: Dissemination of science is at the core of AGU's mission. Exploration and support for Open Access (OA) models and ensuring fair pricing of the current institutional subscription model must be continued by AGU. Pursuit of these goals would be compromised through a third party publisher relationship. Response: AGU will continue to pursue ways to support OA in a manner that ensures access to the science while balancing the financial aspects of the business model. All finalist publishers have existing programs for OA, publish full OA journals, and provide options for AGU to experiment further with OA through new journal titles and other concepts. At the same time, given the uncertainty over OA government mandates, a third party partnership mitigates the financial risk to AGU. Accessibility can also be impacted by pricing schemes which bundle AGU products into "mega-deals" or dramatically increases the pricing of our publications. In any agreement, AGU publications would remain a stand-alone product suite, with any bundling with other publications strictly optional and subject to AGU approval. Price increases are subject to joint decision making between the partner and AGU and are informed by market data on the institutional and publishing environment. 1. Editorial and Author Support: Significant progress has been made between the partnership of the editorial teams and AGU staff over the last few years including stabilization of staffing support provided, streamlined processes, and system improvements. Changes to third party support for these functions may cause this interface to regress. Response: Any assessment of changes to this area will be focused on a clear demonstration of superior service, support, and technologies by a partner publisher. Ensuring a high level of continuing support for our editors is critical to the success of this venture. 1. Transition / Exit Strategies: If quality, responsiveness, financial results, or technological proficiency decline over the life of the contract, AGU must be protected and able to continue the important work of the journals. Response: We recognize that despite best efforts and planning, sometimes results do not meet expectations, and it is prudent to ensure that clauses exist in the contract to protect AGU under such circumstances. These types of clauses are routine in third party publisher contracts and often have mutual components, which means that AGU has to deliver on its commitments also. Furthermore, all finalist publishers have signed the Transfer Code of Practice adopted by UKSG, a standards group for the scholarly publishing community. This code sets expectations and standards for orderly transfers of scholarly works such as journals from one publisher to another. Please continue to send in any additional thoughts and comments. Our intention with the responses above is to provide recognition that your input is being received, that it impacts the decision making process, and, if we are to move forward with a third party, the input will be woven into the fabric of any agreement. Based on all input received, a criteria matrix is being developed for endorsement by the Council at their upcoming 21 June 2012 call. Thank you again for your comments and for your commitment to the excellence of AGU journals. We will keep you apprised of the evaluation process as the working group completes its evaluation. Best regards, Michael J. McPhaden President Carol Finn President-elect ____________________________________________________________ AGU galvanizes a community of Earth and space scientists that collaboratively advances and communicates science and its power to ensure a sustainable future.