Peak: The Next Experiment
As was mentioned above, the aspect of the TULIP experiment that produced the least data was the economic evaluation. One of the TULIP partners was the University of Michigan, which is now also an EES subscriber for all Elsevier journal titles. As part of our discussions with Michigan, we agreed to further controlled experimentation in pricing. Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, an associate professor of economics and information, has designed the experiment at the University of Michigan. MacKie-Mason is also the project director for the economic aspects of the experiment.
This pricing field trial is called Pricing Electronic Access to Knowledge (PEAK). Michigan will create a variety of access models and administer a pricing system. The university will apply these models to other institutions, which will be serviced from Michigan as the host facility. Some institutions will purchase access on a more or less standard subscription model. Others will buy a generalized or virtual subscription, which allows for prepaid access to a set of N articles, where the articles can be selected from across the database. Finally, a third group will acquire articles strictly on a transactional basis. Careful thought has, of course, gone into the relationship among the unit prices under these three schemes, the absolute level of the prices, and the relationship among the pricing, the concepts of value, and the publishers' need for a return.
The experiment should begin in early 1998 and run at least through August 1999. We are all looking forward to the results of this research.