Enterprise cash to help calm war of words

Sunday 13 October 2002

Scottish Enterprise Fife has awarded a substantial grant to a University of St Andrews economist’s drive to produce high- quality on-line and print economics journals at a fraction of the price of their commercial counterparts.

Dr Manfredi La Manna aims to use the internet to cut the costs facing academics seeking to publish their research in scientific journals which can often exceed thousands of pounds. The ever-rising cost has forced many University libraries to stop buying them.

Dr La Manna’s organisation “ELectronic Society for Social Scientists” (ELSSS) aims to solve the crisis created by the pricing policies of some commercial publishers which, because they control the market, have forced libraries to cut their journal portfolios. ELSSS, which could provide a blueprint for any academic field, has already received support from over 1,000 economists worldwide. Indeed, there is no prestigious economics department anywhere in the world that does not include ELSSS supporters.

The Scottish Enterprise Fife grant will allow Dr La Manna to launch the first of ELSSS’ planned portfolio of journals, The Review of Economic Theory. The Advisory Board for the Review comprises some of the most luminous superstars in economics (from Harvard, Princeton, UCLA and Penn). The goal the Advisory Board has set itself is “to create a premier field journal in theory on par with the other top journals in the field¿. ELSSS has developed its own publishing software which, thanks to the cooperation and advice from the profession, will mark a significant improvement, especially in terms of enhancing research productivity and scientific communication, compared to existing practices.

The grant will also meet the costs of Dr La Manna’s replacement while he takes up a sabbatical post to further his research on the subject.

Dr La Manna said, “The Review of Economic Theory will set new standards for strict but fast peer- review and for outstanding service to authors, referees, readers, and libraries. Interest in ELSSS has been quite overwhelming, not only in the UK, but especially in North America. ELSSS is extremely grateful to SEF without whose support progress would have been almost impossible.”

Meanwhile, Joe Noble, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise Fife, said, “A key part of our strategic agreement with the University is to maximise the economic impact which can result from research undertaken by leading academics such as Dr La Manna.

“We are delighted that our support has enabled Dr La Manna to further develop software that will benefit universities throughout the UK and abroad by making scientific journals more accessible and affordable by producing them online.”

Launched in 2000, ELSSS also aims to introduce a fairer and more efficient way of producing, distributing and using academic journals where the system that currently produces large rents being earned by some commercial publishers is replaced by a mechanism that yields lowest-cost access and widest dissemination by rewarding only those individuals who contribute to making high- quality journals, namely, authors, referees and editors. Essentially, ELSSS would see universities paying themselves – instead of 95% of their subscriptions going to the shareholders of publishing giants, referees and editors would be paid for their efforts and authors would benefit from wide and prompt dissemination of their strictly peer-reviewed research. The end result would be substantial savings for libraries and the academic and student community.

In addition to Scottish Enterprise Fife, ELSSS also receives financial support from the Royal Economic Society and the University of St Andrews. For more information, please go to http://www.elsss.org.


Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact: Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st- andrews.ac.uk View University press releases on- line at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: elsss/standrews/chg/14oct2002


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