August 10, 2006. The Editorial Board of Topology resigned effective 21 December 2006. The editors hope to have the support of the community in taking this step. Here is the letter.
October 13 2005. The Banff Protocol is online at http://members.cox.net/banffprotocol/. Please look at this web page and consider subscribing to the "Banff Protocol".
September 22 2005. Below is an email I recently sent to the journal "Topology."
Date: Tue, 6 Sep 2005 17:08:47 -0400 (EDT) From: Walter Neumann To: Topology Subject: Re: Topology xxxx Dear Beverly (and Topology Editors) I just emailed you, Beverly, a referee's report on paper xxxx for Topology. [Comments on the paper deleted] If [that paper] is resubmitted to Topology, I am afraid that I will not be able to referee it. I'd be glad if you could pass on this email, which gives my reasons for this, to the editorial board of Topology. At a recent Topology meeting in Banff the participants met for an evening to discuss the issue of journal pricing. The feeling of many participants was that the overpricing of journals and the bundling policies instituted by many publishers are putting financial pressures on our libraries that are severely compromising them. Over twelve years ago, when I was involved in the purchasing decisions of the library at Ohio State University, the rising price of journals was already putting painful pressure from the books budget, although most important journals were still subscribed. Five years later I was in Melbourne, Australia, and subscription cuts due to price increases had come to the point that Australian university libraries could no longer assure that each important journal was available by interlibrary loan within Australia. As publishers' sense of responsibility moves from one of service to their customers to one of maximizing profits for their stockholders, the free service that we provide by refereeing and editing is no longer being returned to the academic community. At the meeting at Banff a "Banff Protocol" was proposed whose signers would agree not to submit papers nor provide service to journals whose pricing was seen as excessive. One proposal for what "excessive" would mean was a per page cost exceeding the average of the 25 mathematics journals at the top of the ISI list by "impact factor" (approx 52 cents/page). Other measures were proposed that led to somewhat higher figures, but ultimately the meeting did not come to an agreement. Despite this failure of agreement, several of us at the meeting agreed to abide by the spirit of the "Banff Protocol." I am therefore resigning from the editorial board of one journal and will refuse to referee papers for several. In particular, since the price of Topology is above all the proposed measures discussed at the time (and indeed, Elsevier was cited as one of the worst offenders regarding predatory pricing), I will no longer submit papers to nor referee papers for Topology until the pricing comes down to a reasonable level. Regards, Walter Neumann
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2005 08:56:20 +0100 From: Nigel Hitchin
To: Walter Neumann Subject: Topology Dear Walter, Thanks for your report on paper xxxx and your position statement following the Banff protocol. There are two issues there -- one is the journal price and the other is bundling. If you want to debundle then Topology has an alternative subscription method -- immediate electronic access and paper journals at the end of the year, which brings its price down. I wrote a letter about this which appeared in the AMS Notices a year ago: Dear Editor, Gerard van der Geer's article on Compositio in the May issue of the Notices shows a line of action which editors can take if they own the name of a journal and are worried about the price. In most cases, however, the publishers own the title. The editors of Topology, in discussion with the publishers, came up with another route a few years ago. There is now an alternative subscription which offers immediate electronic access to the journal with paper copies at the end of the year for half the price of the standard subscription (which incidentally gives a figure less than Compositio's new price). Since the driver for much of the current discussion on open access is the immediate availability of online versions, this in principle offers what many consumers want. What the future holds is anybody's guess, but we are nowadays used to the fact that there is no single price for an airline ticket, or a cellular phone contract. Everything depends on a balance of delivery methods, forward planning and volume. Maybe that is what we should expect in scientific publishing. Yours sincerely, Nigel Hitchin Editor -- Topology Best regards, Nigel
As Nigel points out, journal price and bundling are two issues. The cost to most libraries is determined by the bundle cost, not individual journal cost. In particular, the admirable effort of the editors of Topology to obtain lower pricing for Topology seems ultimately futile. (Oct. 3, 2005)
The Banff Protocol is now online at http://members.cox.net/banffprotocol/.