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Lee Anne George
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Tempe Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing

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May 10, 2000

The following set of principles was agreed to by the undersigned individuals as a result of a meeting held in Tempe, Arizona, on March 2-4, 2000. Sponsored by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Merrill Advanced Studies Center of the University of Kansas, the meeting was held to facilitate discussion among the various academic stakeholders in the scholarly publishing process and to build consensus on a set of principles that could guide the transformation of the scholarly publishing system.

The creation, dissemination, and application of new knowledge are fundamental to the development of an informed citizenry and a healthy global economy. Institutions of higher education exist to fulfill these functions. From the lab to the classroom to industry to the public, the advancement of knowledge through research and teaching is an invaluable contribution made by higher education to the public good. Scholarly publishing is the process through which newly discovered knowledge is refined, certified, distributed to, and preserved for researchers, professors, students and the public.

The current system of scholarly publishing has become too costly for the academic community to sustain. The increasing volume and costs of scholarly publications, particularly in science, technology, and medicine (STM), are making it impossible for libraries and their institutions to support the collection needs of their current and future faculty and students. Moreover, the pressure on library budgets from STM journal prices has contributed to the difficulty of academic publishers in the humanities and social sciences, primarily scholarly societies and university presses, to publish specialized monograph-length work or to find the funds to invest in the migration to digital publishing systems. Numerous studies, conferences, and roundtable discussions over the past decade have analyzed the underlying causes and recommended solutions to the scholarly publishing crisis. Many new publishing models have emerged. A lack of consensus and concerted action by the academic community, however, continues to allow the escalation of prices and volume.

The participants in the Tempe conference came together with the hope of building consensus on a set of principles that would inform the design and evaluation of new systems of scholarly publishing. The goal was to provide guidance while leaving open to creativity and market forces the actual development of such systems. The following set of principles is the result of their discussions. While the principles and their explanations reflect a North American perspective, the participants recognize that the advancement of knowledge and scholarly publishing are international enterprises. While the academic community in North America may agree on collective action, international discussion and support will be needed for the success of any new systems.

The participants encourage broad discussion and endorsement of these principles by institutions of higher education, scholars, scholarly societies, and scholarly publishers. Endorsement carries with it the commitment to implement local actions that will bring institutions of higher education closer to the goal of providing access to all relevant published research across all disciplines to all faculty by way of systems that ensure dependable management and affordable access to information over time.