Business, Innovation and Skills CommitteeWritten evidence submitted jointly by The Classical Association The Institute of Classical Studies , University of London The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
1.1. As the publishers of most of the major UK journals in the field of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, which attract international contributors and are read and admired throughout the world, we submit that in our field the subscription model of journal publication delivers high quality publications at a modest cost, heavily subsidised by the contributions and freely given time of academic colleagues and members of our learned societies.
1.2. We support the principle of Open Access to research—as distinct from dissemination of research outcomes to the public (which we also support). However, we believe Open Access in HSS subjects will be achieved most effectively, with least extra cost and disruption, by a Green model of publication, such as we already use. The Gold model would make it impossible to run subscription journals, and thus undermine the structures which allow us to provide and finance major public benefits which include the Combined Library of the ICS and Hellenic and Roman Societies and the annual Classical Association Conference, both of which serve academics and interested members of the public in the UK and abroad.
1.3. We focus here on our particular concern for the quality and sustainability of our journals and the resources we provide to the public. However we share the wider concerns in Arts and Humanities on issues such as the problems of financing for authors and institutions implicit in the Gold system, and we endorse in particular the submission of the Royal Historical Society on these and related points.
2. What we do
2.1. The Classical Association (c. 2,300 members), Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies (c. 1,500 members) and Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (c. 2,000 members) are learned societies with charitable status. Together with the Institute of Classical Studies we publish the following annual journals (in addition to occasional monographs):
Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies
Greece & Rome
Journal of Hellenic Studies, plus Archaeological Reports
Journal of Roman Studies
2.2. The journals of the CA, SPHS and SPRS are subscription journals. The journals attract members, whose membership subscriptions make a vital contribution to the finances that enable the Classical Association to mount its annual Classics Conference, the largest in the UK, which attracts participants from universities, schools and the general public, including many from overseas, and is one of the principal stages for public dissemination of UK research in our field. The CA, two Societies and ICS also promote interest and research in the Graeco-Roman world through meetings, lectures, online resources and grants mainly targeted at younger scholars and schools. The two Societies and the ICS jointly maintain one of the two world-class Classics libraries in the UK (see 4. below).
2.3. Subscriptions to the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, along with its series of Supplements, come from institutions, especially libraries, the majority of which are abroad. The profits from these publications support the activities of the Institute in providing a national focus for research in Classics, while the Bulletin makes the lectures, seminars and conferences of the Institute available worldwide.
3. The Avantages of Subscription Journals
3.1. We do wish to make the results of research and of general intellectual creativity in our field as widely available as possible—that is one of the principal aims for which we were founded. However, we do not believe that in our subject area Gold Open Access is the best way of achieving this, or that, when the whole pattern of our activities is considered, above all in an international context, the subscription model for learned journals is in itself flawed or unsatisfactory. The problem lies rather in the pricing policy of a small number of publishers, who have (principally in the sciences) established a near-monopolistic position; we also note that the Finch Report appears to propose transferring the payments which generate these publishing profits from the readers and their institutions to the authors and their institutions, which is not a real solution.
3.2. Standard members of the Hellenic and Roman Societies currently pay subscriptions of £46 a year, including one journal, which in real terms is about half of what they would have paid a century ago when the Societies were founded; the annual CA subscription including one journal is £52 or £59 (depending on the journal chosen). The Roman Society charges £25 for online only subscription. Members receive access to an online archive of all back issues of journals. We aim to make a modest profit not for it own sake, but because we use our members’ subscriptions, and their time freely given, to create a variety of public goods. High quality publication, including electronic, is expensive; one of the major costs, hidden and easily forgotten, comprises the time and effort involved in organising and undertaking peer reviewing, and in the Arts and Humanities this is mostly undertaken without financial reward, out of loyalty to our societies and the discipline.
3.3. Our journals also provide a crucial service to research by publishing some 100 reviews a year; indeed the Classical Review publishes only reviews, some 300 a year, and thus provides an authoritative survey of new scholarship across the field. APCs for these reviews would be an administrative nightmare.
3.4. We, like most learned societies, already operate forms of Green Open Access, after an embargo period of 36 months, which forms only a tiny percentage of the period over which important papers will be read. Authors are allowed to post their own papers on their institutional web-site immediately. In our view this system, in addition to the modest costs of our journals and their availability for public consultation, already provides a satisfactorily high level of Open Access while enabling us to sustain publication of our journals to world-class standards of intellectual content and presentation, and from the subscription income, journal exchanges and review copies of monographs to provide other public benefits of enormous value.
4. The International Context
4.1. In terms of content, around half the articles on average in issues of Greece & Rome, the Journal of Hellenic Studies and Journal of Roman Studies are by authors who are in foreign HEIs. To impose a system of APCs would lead to a drying up of the top quality contributions from foreign scholars which are vital to the international standing of our journals, which in turn supports the international standing of the academic study of Classics in the UK. We do not believe that a hybrid Green/Gold system would be fair to UK scholars, and fear that it would create financial uncertainty and risk which would imperil the sustainability of our journals.
4.2. We also note that in terms of institutional diffusion, the distribution of the Journal of Hellenic Studies and Journal of Roman Studies is about 10% to the UK, and 90% to the rest of the world; even in the case of Britannia, the split is 40% to the UK, 60% abroad.
5. Library and Journal Exchanges
5.1. In the case of the journals of the two Societies, as well as the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, the existence of a subscription plus exchange system has enabled the creation of a major public good from private support, that is the Combined Library in the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London, which is open for consultation by all bona fide researchers, including members of the general public, who also have access to the expert advice of the library staff, who all have classical degrees. This Library is one of only two fully comprehensive research libraries in the UK for Graeco-Roman antiquity, and one of a handful in the world. Furthermore, it is the only major Classics research library that actively recruits and supports non-academic users.
5.2. The journals we publish directly subsidise accessions to this library both through exchanges with foreign journals and the free acquisition of copies sent by publishers for review (reviewers forego their normal right to the book). The vast majority of exchanges are with non-UK journals, many of them crucial to the field. Out of some 700 titles taken, around 450 are acquired by exchange. The loss of the exchange model would create a requirement for over £250,000 additional annual funding, which neither the Societies nor the Institute of Classical Studies can afford.
Professor C Carey, President, Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies
Professor JA North, Director, Institute of Classical Studies
Professor DW Rathbone, President, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
Professor JHD Scourfield, Chair of Council, Classical Association
7 February 2013