How the Crisis in Scholarly Communication Affects You
High costs are a barrier to access
Egregious and rising prices of scholarly journals place a barrier between faculty work and their potential readers, putting research and teaching at risk. In the Berkeley library, we have done our best to continue to provide access to materials for our scholars but if economic and publishing trends continue at the same pace, the Library may be required to cancel journals and reduce the number of books purchased. Researchers, in turn, may find it harder and harder to locate materials.
- The cost of scholarly publications is (and has been) rising at rates that are several times higher than inflation.
- Significant price increases in journals every year decrease the purchasing power of libraries overall. Serials with high inflation rates negatively impact the overall acquisition of monographs and other serials.
- Monograph and Serials Expenditures (PDF)
Data from the Association for Research Libraries show that from 1986 to 2005:
- The average cost of serials rose 167%.
- The average cost of a monograph rose 81%.
- The consumer price index for this time period rose 78%.
- Bottom line: prices are going up, and libraries can't keep up.
- Sticker Shock: to put subscription costs in perspective, consider that a one year subscription to some journals can cost as much as the price of a car (from the UCSF Library).
- The number of new journals published every year is increasing.
- Journal inflation rates impact all disciplines:
LC Classification Average
Anthropology $389 $543 40% Chemistry $2799 $3690 32% Engineering $1530 $2047 34% History $183 $263 44% Philosophy and Religion $205 $281 37% Political Science $365 $539 48%
See the annual Library Journal Periodical Price Survey for an analysis of journal prices.
- There is a direct correlation between mergers and acquisitions among publishers and rises in serial prices.
Economic Analysis of Scientific Research Publishing
From the Wellcome Trust, an independent funding organization based in the United Kingdom. The aim of the study is to support a "dialogue between key players in the scientific publishing field … and to develop a publishing system that meets the needs of all groups, and best promotes the public good of scientific work …."
The Economics of Scholarly Journal Publishing
An economic analysis of the scholarly journal market from Carl Bergstrom and Ted Bergstrom. Originally published in 2001. An update, The Economics of Ecology Journals (PDF) was published in 2006.
Journal Pricing and Mergers (PDF)
Mark McCabe of Georgia Tech investigates how "commercial firms have aggressively raised prices at a rate disproportionate to any increase in costs or quality."
Journal Pricing Page
From Ted Bergstrom, Professor, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara. Professor Bergstrom explores the economics of journal pricing.
Libraries and the Marketplace
This website from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) describes their effort to work with the "library community to promote a healthy marketplace and to reduce marketplace barriers hindering access to scholarly information."
The Promise of Value-Based Journal Pricing and Negotiation Prices (PDF)
This whitepaper by the University of California Libraries Collection Development Committee proposes that a journal price should be related to its value to the academic enterprise.
Reshaping Scholarly Communication
From the Office of Scholarly Communication, University of California. This site focuses on scholarly communication issues as they relate to the UC community.
Scientific Publishing: Knowledge is Power (PDF)
This 2002 industry report from MorganStanley analyzes global STM (science, technology, and medicine) publishing, a $7 billion industry. Among its findings: scientific publishing is the fastest growing media subsector of the last 15 years.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Coalition is an alliance of academics and research libraries working to correct market dysfunctions in the scholarly publishing system.