[Asis-l] Ceasing publication of ARIST

Richard Hill rhill at asis.org
Thu Apr 1 09:48:31 EDT 2010

[Another longish post.  Dick Hill]


Neither the Task Force nor the Board questions the value and quality of
ARIST and ARIST reviews.  


The central presumption and objection below seems to be that we will stop
publishing review articles, when that is emphatically not the case.   The
format and the venue will change, but not the commitment to publishing
review articles.


Authors objected to the long lag time between first conception and
appearance in print, and to the delay in seeing their work appear online.
Publishing the reviews in JASIST, with the greatly improved posting and
print schedule resolves that. Online, the reviews will be available to more
people, and sooner.


With Wiley Blackwell we can also make reviews into what is called a "virtual
issue."  These issues will collect related articles from multiple issues and
present them on a special web page with full functionality.  So in essence,
there you have the electronic review articles collected into one place.


Finances were not the driving force in the ARIST decision.  Steadily
declining sales led to some questions about the perceived value of the
publication in its current format, but financial concerns were not the
deciding factor.


However, a publication like ARIST has significant editorial costs.  These
are not eliminated when a publication goes electronic. If memory serves,
King and Tenopir several years ago estimated e-publication saved around 15%
for journals, and ARIST has higher fixed costs than a journal.  We sent the
publishing RFP, with full information on ARIST, to publishers and none
proposed a way to make ARIST work as a stand-alone publication, whether
print or electronic only.   


We have been putting ARIST in the Digital Library (with a 2 year delay to
protect sales). Viewing and download statistics are not close to JASIST
articles, while above Bulletin and Proceedings.  We had hoped that online
access would stimulate print sales and readership, but that does not appear
to have happened.


The driving forces in the decision were what knowledgeable leaders as the
current and future directions of scholarly communication, publishing, the
desires of authors, and our intent make available quality reviews to a wider
circle of readers.



Richard B. Hill
Executive Director
American Society for Information Science and Technology
1320 Fenwick Lane, Suite 510
Silver Spring, MD  20910
Fax: (301) 495-0810
Voice: (301) 495-0900 


From: nicholas belkin [mailto:belkin at rutgers.edu] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 1:39 PM
To: Richard Hill
Cc: 'El-Hadidy, Bahaa'; asis-l at asis.org
Subject: Re: [Asis-l] Ceasing publication of ARIST


The value of ARIST to the ASIST and general scholarly community is immense.
It is not only a tool for keeping current, for many different constituencies
and purposes, but also an invaluable historical record. I have difficulty in
believing that the general value of ARIST was properly weighed against what
I assume to have been a financial cost. In particular, since the viability
of an electronic version of ARIST appears to have been supported, I think
that it would be appropriate for those who took this decision to explain
precisely why it was taken, and why electronic publication was decided

Nicholas J. Belkin
Past President,   ASIST

Richard Hill wrote: 

[Apologies for a lengthy post.  Dick Hill]
The decision to discontinue print ARIST was actually made in Nov 2008 after
a substantial amount of board and task force discussion.  It was announced
in a Bulletin President's Page (June/July 2009) after we had consulted about
the changes with the publisher, Information Today.  The decision was also
announced at the 2009 Annual Business Meeting.
As context, prior to the decision, Blaise Cronin had become the new JASIST
editor and we had a new publishing contract with Wiley Blackwell.  With
Blaise moving from ARIST to JASIST, we needed a new ARIST editor, which
presented the problem of what context to give a new editor, forcing
re-consideration of ARIST as we know it.  
Over the last dozen years ARIST sales have gone from well over 1500 to well
under 1000, dropping around 10% per year. Our consultants advised that sales
of such publications were projected to continue dropping.
We included ARIST in the publishers RFP which led to our Wiley Blackwell
contract.  All the publishers who responded recognized the quality of ARIST
but were considerably less than enthusiastic about continuing it as a print
publication in anything like its current form.  All suggested an electronic
publication or did not address ARIST.
The ARIST editor has had increasing difficulty getting authors to agree and
significant numbers never completed their review articles.  Some potential
authors felt that a review 3 years old by the time the publication came out
was not useful; others thought that print was not the best medium for timely
There was a retreat in the fall of 2008 with Wiley-Blackwell and a
consultant that resulted in the recommendation to the Board.  The Board
deliberated at length before voting to discontinue. This was a difficult
decision for all of us, but a decision that was made recognizing where
publishing and scholarly communication are headed, future directions and
The JASIST review sections will serve as a transition venue at least.  The
reviews will be available in a more timely fashion and to all ASIS&T
members.  Perhaps someday we will be able to establish a review type series
that will serve the role that ARIST played so long and well.
We only posted recently to the web site to protect sales of the final three
volumes, which is prevailing advice, and out of consideration for
Information Today.  Tom Hogan and Information Today deserve enormous credit
for keeping ARIST afloat for so long (as well as ASIST itself in years
Richard B. Hill
Executive Director
American Society for Information Science and Technology
1320 Fenwick Lane, Suite 510
Silver Spring, MD  20910
Fax: (301) 495-0810
Voice: (301) 495-0900 

-----Original Message-----
From: El-Hadidy, Bahaa [mailto:elhadidy at cas.usf.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 1:53 PM
To: belkin at rutgers.edu; asis-l at asis.org; leadership at asis.org
Subject: RE: [Asis-l] Ceasing publication of ARIST
Importance: High
I agree completely with Nick Belkin. The decision
of ceasing tha Annual Review
is important for all members and the problem should be widely discussed by
the membership at large. I realize the financial problems of the Society,
but other alternatives should be discussed and members should have a say
in this decision.. I would like to propose that this decision would be
kept on hold and mambers be given the chance to give as much input as
possible, and the final decision would be made during a special meeting
during this year Annual meeting in Pittsburgh.
Bahaa ElHadidy, PH.D.
Professor of Onformation Science, Retired
Tel (813)978-1551
elhadidy at cas.usf.edu

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Nicholas J. Belkin
Professor (II) of Information Science
Department of Library and Information Science
School of Communication and Information
Rutgers University
4 Huntington Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1071, USA
Phone +1 732 932 7500 x8271
Fax +1 732 6916
Email belkin at rutgers.edu
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