Report of the Ad-hoc Committee on CMS Publishing Options
[Thomas Salisbury (Chair), François Bergeron, Keith Taylor]
The CMS has an extensive network of publication activities, overseen by the Publications Committee. The scientific editorial aspects of these publications function smoothly, with a regular cycle for replacing editors and editorial boards. Over the years, the CMS has also built up structures to handle the administrative and technical aspects of publishing, such as administering the publications, managing circulation and advertising, liaising with printers and with other publishers, configuring and mounting digital journals, TeXing and copy-editing manuscripts, circulating page proofs, and a host of related tasks. The structures through which these tasks have been carried out have been designed around a small number of energetic and committed individuals, who have been responsible for these aspects of the publications for significant periods of time (eg. Wright, Doob, Swaminathan, and Jorgenson). It is expected to prove difficult to perpetuate the existing arrangements through to the next generation, once this small group of individuals steps down. In view of the fact that several of these individuals are expected to cease to fill those roles by the end of 2002, the CMS initiated a review of its publishing operations, with a view to charting their possible evolution. The Publications task force (chaired by Keith Taylor) considered aspects of this evolution, as did the Publications Committee (chaired by Jamie Mingo), the Electronic Services Committee (chaired by Edgar Goodaire), and the Ad hoc Camel Review Committee (chaired by Ian Goulden). The issue was then passed for consideration to a subcommittee of the CMS executive committee, consisting of Francois Bergeron, Keith Taylor, and Tom Salisbury.
At the December 2000 CMS meeting, a variety of options were discussed. There was little enthusiasm for simply contracting the publishing operation out, or for maintaining the status quo, which is a highly distributed system, heavily dependant on volunteer labour and on the energy of committed individuals. At the April meeting of the CMS executive, a decision was made to take the next step in the evolution of the CMS's publishing enterprise, and to move to a business model, with a centralized operation and a higher percentage of salaried employees. This will undoubtedly be more expensive than the current model. On the other hand, it is clear that the CMS's profitable publishing enterprise is subsidized by the relatively low-cost buyout arrangements it has been able to secure, as a result of the strong interest key individuals have shown in building this enterprise. That model appears to be unsustainable when it comes to maintaining this enterprise at a professional level.
A centralized publishing office would combine the three legs of the current enterprise, namely the TeX office, the office of the managing editor, and the office of the digital editor. This does not mean that all the tasks would necessarily be carried out in one place. Indeed, the TeX office has shown that some tasks can be farmed out over long distances. It does mean that the individual or individuals with primary responsibility for overseeing the three legs of the enterprise would be located centrally, with sufficient local infrastructure to direct the operation. The individuals guiding the publications would all be gathered in one location, which is surely a more efficient and renewable model than we currently have.
The following three options for structuring this office are being considered:
Note that the Publications task force recommended establishing an associate TeX editor, which can be viewed as a move in the direction of the third option. The feasibility of that option will be reviewed, and may be the subject of a separate report. But the purpose of the current document is to examine the feasibility, advantages, and disadvantages of the other two options.
Either option would allow the publications office to avoid building a completely separate infrastructure for payroll, accounting, office maintenance, etc. since in each case that function could be embedded within the existing infrastructure of either the executive office, or of one of the institutes. As to which of these two options is preferable, the efficiencies that follow from having a single publications office deal with both the CMS publications and with the publications of one or more of the institutes, seems to argue for the first option. The second option, of an Ottawa publishing office is a fallback position that should be explored only if the other options appear to be unfeasible. It seems plausible that any of the three institutes could provide a suitable and stable environment for a publications office. All of them have existing paid staff, and a robust mechanism for perpetuating their operations. CRM and Fields each have well established publishing operations, though neither publishes journals. All three institutes use some infrastructure from their host universities, though Fields actually comes close to operating as an independent business. CRM has significant expertise in bilingual publication, which is potentially of great interest to the CMS. Regardless of where the publishing office is established, the CMS should explore ways of collaborating with CRM in bilingual publication.
Though there are advantages to affiliating with one or more institutes, it must be pointed out that there is also a potential danger to the CMS's national character in doing so. If this should in fact be the ultimate arrangement adopted, efforts would have to be taken to ensure that this partnership did not imperil the CMS's relationships with the other institutes.
For the sake of discussion, here is one possible configuration of a CMS/Institute publications office.
The existing CMS operation includes salaries for individuals performing many of the above functions. At a guess, the net new cost would be half the salary of the publications manager, as well as a fair market price for the services of the managing editor. The cost of office space would probably be higher than at present, but the costs associated with the TeX editor would be lower, and might balance out. A very rough estimate of the net cost to the CMS for establishing the publishing office, would be $50,000 per year in addition to current costs. A more realistic budget would have to come out of discussions between the financial officers of the society and the Institute administration. This should be the first order of business if this option is to be seriously explored.
Note that a significant advantage of setting up a centralized office running on a business model is that this structure is ideally suited to taking in contract work from other organizations. In fact, if this model is pursued, and the publishing office is located at one of the institutes, thought should be given to forming a corporation, with the CMS and this Institute as principal shareholders. The corporation would maintain its own set of accounts. This would make the financial delineations clear, which would be crucial if the corporation was to take on contract work for 3rd parties. The above staff would be employed by this corporation, with the possible exception of the managing editors (who could however be officers of the corporation). It is reasonable that the other institutes, or other societies (eg. CAIMS, SSC, the Royal Society of Canada) might be sources of contracts for this corporation, especially if the bilingual publishing capacity of the CMS was enhanced or linked to that of the CRM. Note that the TeX office currently has had such contracts, eg. with the Royal Society, and on occasion with CRM. It is possible that the University of Toronto Press (which prints the CMS journals) could use the expertise of the TeX editor as well.