Stuart Lawson and Ben Meghreblian have published "Freedom of Information Requests Uncover the Lack of Transparency in Journal Subscription Costs" in The LSE's Daily Blog on American Politics and Policy.
Here's an excerpt:
Making use of the UK's Freedom of Information (FOI) law we sent FOI requests to over 100 higher education institutions via the website whatdotheyknow.com asking them to release their data. Using this website has the dual benefit of making the process simple to scale up when sending multiple requests and also ensuring that the responses are in the public domain.
In two rounds of requests we asked for the amount of money that these institutions had paid to six of the largest academic publishers—Wiley, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Sage, Oxford University Press, and Cambridge University Press—over a period of five years. The results have been collated and over £80m of subscription expenditure has been openly released. This process was for the most part straightforward and just required a lot of persistence and a little knowledge of library processes, which allowed us to know how to phrase the request and how to respond to any queries from the institutions.