Publishers of non-scientific academic journals cannot get properly set up for the internet without government money, according to two recent Canadian grant recipients.
In April, the federal government announced it was giving three academic presses Can$ 207,600 (Pounds 88,500) to launch journals online. The presses of the universities of Montreal, Toronto and Wilfred Laurier are currently at different stages of introducing Standard Generalised Markup Language (SGML) to their publishing process.
Anne Marie Corrigan, vice-president of journals at the University of Toronto Press, welcomed the help from a government department that targets funds to knowledge-based economic initiatives. She said the cost of finding qualified personnel for a highly technical endeavour such as this was just too high for a non-profit journal.
"Our journals are in the social sciences and humanities. There is just not as much money circulating in that area as in the sciences," said Ms Corrigan, whose press publishes the oldest law journal in the country as well as a quarterly dedicated to the humanities.
Going online has always been touted as a way to bring down the spiralling costs of libraries, many of which have had their journal budgets cut. But publishers are still deterred by the investment that is required. Sandra Woolfrey, director of Wilfred Laurier University Press, said it costs about Can$ 60,000 to implement SGML, which she said is far better for referencing, archiving and handling graphics than the simplified internet code of HTML.