At a time when a number of industry pundits are predicting the imminent demise of secondary publishers, it would be surprising to learn of a start-up company preparing to launch a brand-new abstracts database to compete with one of the oldest and most successful database enterprises in the industry. But this was exactly the case when Database Access Group, LLC, headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, recently announced plans to launch a product called e-psyche as a direct competitor to PsycINFO of the American Psychological Association (APA).
The announcement becomes a little less surprising when one learns that the co-founder of the company is Dennis Auld, who ran the PsycINFO unit of the APA for over 8 years. An online information pioneer who also co-founded ABI/Inform in the 1970s, Auld has joined forces with another industry "gray hair," John Kuranz, who founded Management Contents, also in the '70s. Their objective was to explore the possibility of creating a database to serve the needs of researchers as well as practitioners in the field of psychology.
"The APA's mandate is to serve the clinical research psychologist—no more, no less," said Auld. "Our product will go beyond the clinical researcher and also serve the needs of practitioners and students across the whole field of psychology. To accomplish that mission we are covering approximately 4,200 journals in psychology and related disciplines, which is nearly three times the number covered by PsycINFO."
The company plans to compete on more than just one front, however. Currency, for example, will also be stressed, and abstracts will be entered within 30 days of receipt of the source material, according to company president Kuranz. On the content side, links to journal publisher sites, links to full text of the articles (where available), and author e-mail addresses will also be a part of the database.
The e-psyche database will also include citation indexing, which Kuranz believes is important to both the users as well as the publishers of the journals being cited.
Kuranz said, "Central to our database production is the extensive linking we will do utilizing the Data Harmony suite of XML and Java software tools." The production of the database involves a partnership with Access Innovations, Inc., another Albuquerque company.
Distribution and Pricing
Auld and Kuranz have identified three basic markets for the e-psyche database—corporate, academic, and professional. The company plans to partner with established online distributors for the corporate and academic markets, but it plans to create a Web-based service of its own for the individual psychology practitioner.
"We are committed to subscription pricing in all three markets," said Kuranz. "We have raised some eyebrows among potential distribution partners in this regard, but we firmly believe that subscription pricing is the best model at this point in the evolution of the online information industry."
Which online companies will wind up offering the e-psyche database? "We are talking to all the usual suspects," said Kuranz, "but we aren't ready to make any announcements just yet."
One of the standard beliefs that gives comfort to established information enterprises is the notion that its backfile database cannot be easily reproduced, thus preventing newcomers from competing on equal footing. How will e-psyche compete with a database that goes back over 100 years?
"It's clear that anyone interested in an exhaustive literature search going back over many years will still have to rely on the PsycINFO database, at least for now," said Auld. "But we believe that the advantages and features with respect to current information that we are offering will give us an edge in the competitive landscape."
Will Database Access Group be looking at other fields for expansion? "We have a stated corporate mission to identify database publishing opportunities in disciplines where dominant players have fallen asleep at the wheel," said Kuranz. "However, we've got our work cut out for us with e-psyche, so don't look for any announcements along those lines any time soon."
For more information, contact Database Access Group, LLC at 505/998-0716 or visit the Web site at http://www.e-psyche.net.