Cambridge Entomological Club, 1874


founded in 1874 by the Cambridge Entomological Club

Options for Future Publication of Psyche

Jonathan A. Rees
Ent Club member since 1990; site maintainer since 2001
Version 9, 6 May 2004



Psyche has been publishing more or less continuously since 1874. It has been connected with Harvard since about 1930, with Prof. Frank Carpenter as editor from 1947 to 1990, David Furth from 1991 to 1994, and Stefan Cover and Phil Perkins in 1995. Since 1996 or so, Naomi Pierce, Brian Farrell, and Ed Wilson have shared editorship, but in that period only one issue (volume 103:1-2, 2000) has appeared.

Psyche's current managing editor, Kathy Horton, plans to do no more work on Psyche after the current volume (103). There is no one assigned to do further work and no plans for future publication.

The relationship between Psyche and Harvard has never been formal as far as I know. Psyche describes itself as "the organ of the Cambridge Entomological Club," which is independent of Harvard, and there is nothing to contradict this in the printed journal, which doesn't mention Harvard. Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) seems to consider Psyche to be a MCZ publication (as stated on the MCZ's web site), but this is a strange assertion since it has provided no support for publication. Harvard permitted storage of back issues on its premises for many years, but even this ended recently when it demanded the removal of the inventory from storage.

Psyche's ties with individuals at Harvard are strong, however, and many have served as authors, editors, or volunteers. Its operations and address have been at Harvard at least since Frank Carpenter became editor in 1947.

I have prepared these notes because nobody else seems to be paying attention and it just does not seem right that Psyche should expire. I am acting in a volunteer capacity.

Shouldn't Psyche be retired?

It is not obvious that Psyche still has a place in the world. Many have a sentimental desire to see it persist, but it is also possible to argue that it has a unique role in relation to its authors and readers. Here are reasons I can think of to maintain it:

Who might take responsibility for Psyche?

The Journal of Insect Science (JIS) is under the wing of the University of Arizona library, not the entomology department. This arrangement is based on the premise that it is the library's job and competency to help disseminate information.

In what form might it be published?

I think it's a given that any revived publication will have an electronic component. Electronic publication of auxiliary files (data sets, databases, images, and so on) will be demanded by authors.

The standard for electronic publishing is the PDF file, which of course looks splendid when printed. An electronic journal actually is printed - just not centrally.

By 'electronic with print backup' I mean that articles appear on line as soon as the final copy preparation is complete; there is no difference between 'issue' (or 'volume') and 'article'. In many fields this immediacy is highly cherished. I define 'print with electronic availability' to mean that the electronic version of a printed issue is made available simultaneously with, or behind, the printed issue.

Dr. Hagedorn has provided 'slides' from a presentation on JIS. These give further information on its philosophy and publication process.

There is (or was) a Journal of Electronic Publishing.

Interesting general articles on electronic publishing:

What is involved in publishing it?

There are at least three kinds of tasks involved:

To understand what's involved in electronic production, consult the production workflow for JIS (document supplied by Henry Hagedorn).

Who's going to do all this work?

The scientific judgment of the science editors is the soul of Psyche (so to speak); any part or all of the rest can be outsourced. I would hope that the current editors (Naomi Pierce, Brian Farrell, and Ed Wilson) would continue in their editorial duties. An editorial board of the kind that Psyche had when it was publishing should be constituted to obtain adequate expert coverage of all subject areas.

In the past, Lexington Press has handled Psyche's typesetting and printing. Electronic publishing is conceptually similar and could handled by a publisher, a freelance agent (I know one who's interested), or by an institutional employee (e.g. at Harvard) as part of his or her job.

Dr. Hagedorn also graciously offers the following: "If you have problems finding a formatting service and server at Harvard you might consider having it done here at the University of Arizona. That is at least a theoretical possibility that some people here are talking about - i.e. publishing other journals."

Some examples of outsourcing options are Biomed Central, Berkeley Electronic Press, AIP Online Journal Publishing Service, and Heldref Publications.

How much does it cost to publish it?

Some details on electronic production costs: A finishing cost of $400 per article (see above) would result in an author charge of $400, which is a bit steep but in line with Psyche's historical page charges, which are far below the page charges of many journals. Biomed Central charges a flat rate of $525 per article. I am confident that we could hire a production shop willing to produce for much less than that. For example, JIS, which does not charge authors at present, is weighing a per article charge of about $200.

How can publication be funded?

Advantages of open access: Journal content is accessible to anyone with Internet access (especially important for students and for readers in developing countries); eliminate headaches of managing a hefty marketing, billing, and fulfillment operation; be a thought leader. SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is an organization that promotes open access; Biomed Central is a publisher that does. The Wellcome Trust has published An Economic Analysis of Scientific Research Publishing, which also comes down on the side of open access.

See the current debate on open access in the journal Nature.

Ed Wilson is a supporter of PLoS (and one might assume of open access generally).

What about permanence of digital material?

If printed copies aren't being sent to libraries, how can one expect the journal to continue to be accessible 100 or 200 years from now?

This is an important question. The answer on the JIS web site is as good as any I could provide.

Of course a small 'print run' will be done for ICZN, and the Harvard library might be willing to accept volumes for shelving. This would help.

Perhaps, eventually, full text could be deposited with PubMed Central; JIS is on this road.

JSTOR is an interesting publication and archiving model; it is designed for the convenience of libraries. Access by individuals without library access is not easy, however.

LOCKSS (Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) gives one high-tech model for digital durability.

What does this say about other MCZ publications?

The MCZ publishes Occasional Papers on Mollusks and the MCZ Bulletin (both of which are managed by Adam Baldinger, I believe). These are both occasional publications with unusual cost structure. The MCZ has a distinguished history of publication, and with the coming of the electronic age its role as a publisher could attain a new level, perhaps with a half-time employee whose job would be to bring all three publications into digital flowering.

Alternatively, it might be better if all three publications were shifted to management by the Harvard library system, assuming that this was consistent with the library's mission. This is the approach taken at University of Arizona with JIS.

What is the recommendation?

I suggest the following overall plan: Clone JIS, but trim off whatever seems unnecessary (maybe very little). Do online-only publication to avoid hassles with print runs, fulfillment, etc. Provide open access to eliminate subscriber relationship headaches and do a good thing for the world.

I don't want to prepare a detailed 'business plan' addressing viability questions rigorously until I have more information, but here's an outline of the scenario I propose.

  1. Determine sponsorship.
  2. Recruit managing editor. This is probably the most difficult step, but keep in mind that managing an online open access Psyche will be much less work than managing a paper-based subscription journal was. There might be someone at the MCZ willing to do this, especially if it were part of his or her job.
  3. Recruit science editor(s).
  4. Determine production facility. If outsourcing, choose and initiate relationship. If self-producing, designate, hire, buy software. Select hosting facility (server). Set up web site.
  5. Obtain seed money (in the $100 to $10,000 range) for setup, promotion, and operation for an establishment period. Draft authors if necessary (shouldn't be). Publish a small number of articles (these will be easy to obtain) as samples to show to potential authors and referees.
  6. Do some marketing, e.g. a press release and a paper mailing to all addresses known to Psyche and the club. Announce to potential authors (perhaps through ads in other journals) that we're open for business.
  7. Aim for 10-30 articles per year. Initiate page charges once it's clear that this is a going concern. Aim to be financially self-sustaining, to avoid stressing the sponsor, or just to survive in the case that there is no sponsor.


Legal, ICZN, PDF, RTF, exchanges, indexing, scanning, pricing, and so on.

Thank you

I spoke to or corresponded with the following people in preparing this report: Henry Hagedorn, Gary Alpert, Stefan Cover, Mary Sears, Adam Baldinger, Brian Farrell, Naomi Pierce, Bruce Archibald, Kristoffer Jacobson, Tom Knight, Kent Pitman, Kathy Horton. Many thanks.