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Discussion with the ASHS President
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President Carl Sams is interested in feedback from ASHS Members. Please read the following article and provide any feedback in the form at the bottom of the page. You must sign in using your member information to see the response area.

 

The Glass is 3/4th Full

HortTechnology Open Access January 1, 2019

 

The ASHS Board of Directors has approved the pricing structure for HortTechnology papers to be published as Full Open Access beginning with volume 29 issue 1 in 2019. Board approval of the move of HortTechnology to Open Access was discussed in the May “Reflections” column.  That decision was based on the numerous advantages that Open Access publication provides. These advantages, as mentioned in that column, include the following: 1) shorter time from submission to publishing, 2) greater visibility of our work, 3) increased impact of our work, and 4) accessibility of our work to many who will benefit greatly from it, but who cannot afford current subscription fees.

ASHS management and staff, at the request of the Board, provided an excellent analysis of the potential impact of several possible price structures on projected revenue for HortTechnology.  Several factors that are difficult to predict are embedded in the decision process regarding price structure.  These include a potential decrease in number of papers submitted and the possible rerouting of papers to other journals as a result of any given fee increase.  The goal of this process was to price Open Access as competitively as possible without placing our society’s financial security in jeopardy.

The flat fee to publish in HortTechnology will be $1500 for members and $2500 for non-members for papers 3 pages or longer. With this pricing structure page counts will not be restricted, and complimentary author alterations and color images/graphs/tables will be allowed. There will be a second-tier price of $500 for members and $800 for non-members for papers that are 2 pages or under (generally this type of article would consist of notes, production and marketing reports and brief reviews).  These costs are lower than the majority of Open Access fees currently charged by other professional societies and other journals in plant science-related fields.  Fees for most Open Access Journals range from $1300 to $3500, with the majority being in the higher price range. 

In part, the process to determine these fees involved an assessment of the 2018 projected income for HortTechnology.  In 2018, HortTechnology was budgeted for $183,775.00 of revenue.  Of that amount, $89,025.00 is from subscription revenue, and $94,750.00 is from publishing fees. As stated in previous “Reflections” columns, subscription revenue has been steadily declining over the past 5 years.  In making the transition from our current subscription system to Open Access, there will be an adjustment period for several reasons.  One minor adjustment is that some member subscription fees for 2019 have already been paid in 2018 and are deferred to 2019.  These fees will not be refunded; rather, the subscribers will receive a credit toward their membership dues to compensate for the portion of the subscription that falls in 2019. Total HortTechnology subscriptions currently collected to be applied to memberships in 2019 will be $9810.  There will be a few other small costs for the transition period. The anticipated revenue to meet expenses for HortTechnology are $158,025, based on the 2018 budget.  If everything goes as anticipated, our society would have a net income from HortTechnology of $13,665 based on this scenario with no loss in submissions in 2019.

Another possible outcome is that there may be a reduction in submissions as we transition into the new Open Access system. If a 10% loss in papers occurs, the anticipated revenue will be $162,000, with expenses remaining at $158,025 and our deferred subscription revenue remaining at $9810.  In this scenario, there would be a net loss in revenue of $5835.   Of course, the board also considered that the reduction in submissions could be greater than 10%.  What if they are 20% or 30%?  Should we base fees on one of these scenarios?  If we based fees on these projected loses in papers, the Open Access fees would need to be much higher.

So, is the glass half full or half empty (a question posed by one very optimistic board member who clearly expressed that they preferred the half full approach)?  I share the attitude of my optimistic colleagues and feel that it is time to take the “glass is actually at least 3/4th full” attitude!  The board voted to use the 10% scenario as a starting point for the transition.  I fully support that position.  If I am wrong, we may incur more loss in the first year or two of the transition.  However, I feel strongly that in a short time our membership will get behind the move to Open Access, and we will see not only a break-even budget but also a significant increase in revenue.  I am confident that working together we can find ways for our members to fund papers in Open Access and reap the many benefits thereof.

As I have stated in previous columns, I feel that we need to make this transition now before it is too late.  We are moving in the right direction, and the long-term benefits will be much greater than any short-term losses that may occur.  The benefits of Open Access to our society and to society in general far outweigh the risk. I am confident that the ASHS membership will support our journals during the transition to Open Access.  I also feel that our members, their institutions, and ASHS will be stronger in the future because of their effort and support. At a later date, I will discuss more options for funding and the status of Open Access for other scientific societies and in other countries.

I appreciate the confidence placed in me and the other elected members of the ASHS Board of Directors.  I feel strongly that our society is currently in excellent shape financially and am proud of the fact that ASHS is regarded as a leading force in promoting excellence in horticultural research, teaching, and outreach throughout the world.  I also feel that it is my responsibility as your President to do my best to protect the future of our society and that Open Access for our journals is an integral part of our society’s future success.  This opinion is based on the overall positive energy for Open Access that is increasingly present in all professional societies and organizations.

I welcome and seek input on the ideas expressed in, and the content of, this column. Please feel free to contact me at carlsams@utk.edu; or, preferably, complete the form below where all members are invited to provide input in an open discussion.

 

 

 

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