Journals, publications and leaflets

Chandrashekar Gangaraju's picture

Apologies if this has been discussed in the past.

The journals that we get from our Royal College (RCPsych) could be an electronic journal. Most of us tend to accumulate the journals which end up being thrown every few months. I still have my ex-wife's old collection from her own Royal College at home to be thrown away. We not only throw the journals but also pay for the cost of the paper and the transport. All the journals arrive in plastic bags.

I recently realized that some Trusts print their own patient information leaflets. Some of these are copyrighted with the Trust's logo. There will be groups set up by all these Trusts to produce and review these leaflets on a regular basis.

There are a plethora of leaflets by different Royal Colleges, some of which are too long with a couple black pages. So are many of the documents from NICE. I feel that almost all of the these can be shortened to include only the necessary information. References should only be online if individuals are interested to find out. I am sure people have seen NICE guidelines booklets where the entire front page is blue which uses a lot if ink when printed on an black ink printer. NICE badly needs a sustainability champion to screen their publications since it is one organization that almost every clinician is connected to.

I have looked some leaflets produced by the Trust I work for. Some of these are bright coloured leaflets which when printed on the common printers use a lot of ink. I am in the process of shortening some of the leaflets and making sure they will use less ink.  

I am calling for action from all the Royal Colleges, GMC and individual Trusts to make their publications lean, with perhaps a logo that says that it has been screened by a sustainability champion. I also feel that Trusts can work together to produce leaflets which others can use without copyright restrictions, rather than the current plethora.

Leaflets from are I feel the best in terms of being concise, without wasting space and not using much ink.

In this century with easy internet access I feel that all websites should be urging people to avoid printing them if they can.


Response about printing journals

Daniel Maughan's picture

Great thoughts Shekar. Interestingly, i have been chatting to the college about stopping printed journals and switching to just receiving electronic journals, unless you opt otherwise.

The college were willing to do this but then came up against a difficult VAT issue. The problem is something along the lines of: the college are required to provide certain services for members in order to avoid VAT and the provision of journals in one of them. The result of this is that if they stop distributing journals they get landed with a hefty VAT bill. 

This stopped any move to electroinic journal distribution dead in its tracks.

This is yet another example of perverse incentives. I do find it incredible that this is the case and that the environment has to suffer needlessly for the sake of a regulation...

I really do like your idea of making publications 'lean' though. It would be interesting to see what others make of this idea???


Online journals and VAT

Rebecca Gibbs's picture

Really great to see this being discussed.  As Daniel said at least a couple of Royal Colleges have spent time establishing whether this is viable for them.  The current VAT laws make it a costly option.  When I contact HMRC to see what could be done I received this reply:

Thank you for your enquiry dated 18 August 2014. I understand that a number of Medical Royal Colleges would like to make their medical journals entirely digital for environmental purposes. This attracts VAT art the standard rate. You would like more information on this matter and whether there are any plans to rectify what you perceive to be an anomaly.

The information you seek is contained in Public Notice 701/10, Zero-rating of books etc. This Notice explains the nature of, and circumstances for zero-rating books. The zero-rating of books, journals, periodicals among others are covered by the VAT Act 1994 Schedule 8, Group 3. The words in Group 3 are used in their ordinary, everyday sense. This means they are restricted to goods produced on paper and similar materials such as card (but see paragraph 3.7). Most items qualifying for the zero-rating will be products of the printing industry (including items printed in Braille), but goods which are photocopied, typed or hand-written will, in some cases, also qualify.

Goods containing text in other formats such as audio or video cassettes or CD Rom are standard-rated. This includes the storage and distribution of text by fax, e-mail, microfiche, or any similar process. Transcripts or print-outs made of such information are zero-rated if they are supplied in the form of books, booklets, brochures, pamphlets or leaflets as defined in section 3.

The supply of text by electronic transmission (including e-books), via the internet, or similar means is also standard-rated. Such supplies are of services, not of goods, and different VAT rules will apply to them (such as those on the place of supply of services ? see Notice 741A Place of supply of services.

Whether or not you regard this as an anomaly is a moot point. It is covered in law, and the only way this can be changed is to have the law amended. You will need to lobby your Member of Parliament to see if such an amendment can be effected.


Online Journals and VAT

Chandrashekar Gangaraju's picture

Hi Rebecca, Thank you very much for finding this piece of information. I feel that we should all lobby our MPs.

I suggest that we draft a common letter and request each member of Psych Susnet to lobby their MP.

I was also thinking of obtaining a space for an article in BJP about this, so that we get a wider attention. Daniel Maughan should be able to help us with this, I hope.

Along with a change to an online journal we could demand for other changes as well in the same article.

I think that it will have a huge impact if all Royal Colleges sign up to this and also it should have an impact on the membership fees! hopefully and drive others to support us.

NICE should in my opinion remain a target for change because in my opinion the cost of printing various guidelines is a lot and not easily noticed as opposed to journals.




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