Elsevier Says Its 2009 Journal Price Increases Average Six Percent or Less

Elsevier has made public a letter to librarians stating that it is targeting "a global average list price increase of not more than six percent" for its journals in 2009. It notes that "the 2008 average list price increase across all STM publishers was 8.70% in Europe and 10.10% in the U.S."

Elsevier is taking author publication fees into account for pricing a subset of its journals: "For individual journals, we are realigning prices to reflect a number of factors, including differences in the number of articles made available, quality, and usage, as well as new factors such as Sponsored Articles." (The Sponsored Articles program allows authors publishing articles in over 40 journals to pay a $3,000 fee to make them open access.)

The letter also states that there were over 386 million articles downloaded from ScienceDirect in 2007, with over 460 million downloaded articles being anticipated in 2008.

Open Access to High-Energy Physics Journals: Greater Western Library Alliance Expresses Interest in SCOAP3 Project

The Greater Western Library Alliance, a consortium of 31 research libraries, has expressed interest in the SCOAP3 project. The Greater Western Library Alliance joins a growing list of U.S. institutions interested in the SCOAP3 project.

Here's an excerpt from Towards Open Access Publishing in High Energy Physics: Executive Summary of the Report of the SCOAP3 Working Party that explains the project:

The proposed [SCOAP3] initiative aims to convert high-quality HEP journals to OA, pursuing two goals:

  • to provide open and unrestricted access to all HEP research literature in its final, peer-reviewed form;
  • to contain the overall cost of journal publishing by increasing competition while assuring sustainability.

In this new model, the publishers’ subscription income from multiple institutions is replaced by income from a single financial partner, the "Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics" (SCOAP3). SCOAP3 is a global network of HEP funding agencies, research laboratories, and libraries. Each SCOAP3 partner will recover its contribution from the cancellation of its current journal subscriptions. This model avoids the obvious disadvantage of OA models in which authors are directly charged for the OA publication of their articles. . . .

In practice, the OA transition will be facilitated by the fact that the large majority of HEP articles are published in just six peer-reviewed journals from four publishers. Five of those six journals carry a majority of HEP content. These are Physical Review D (published by the American Physical Society), Physics Letters B and Nuclear Physics B (Elsevier), Journal of High Energy Physics (SISSA/IOP) and the European Physical Journal C (Springer). The aim of the SCOAP3 model is to assist publishers to convert these "core" HEP journals entirely to OA and it is expected that the vast majority of the SCOAP3 budget will be spent to achieve this target. The sixth journal, Physical Review Letters (American Physical Society), is a "broadband" journal that carries only a small fraction (10%) of HEP content; it is the aim of SCOAP3 to sponsor the conversion to OA of this journal fraction. The same approach can be extended to another "broadband" journal popular with HEP instrumentation articles: Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A (Elsevier) with about 25% HEP content.

Going Up: Serials Prices Increase 9% to 11% in 2008

Library Journal has published "Periodicals Price Survey 2008: Embracing Openness."

Most of the narrative discusses open access developments. The news on toll-access serials remains grim:

Prices of subscription-based journals increased nine to ten percent in 2008, driven by an extremely weak dollar. Non-U.S. titles in the humanities and social sciences increased even more (11 percent), because publishers in these disciplines tend to price in native currencies, driving U.S. prices up when those currencies are converted to dollars. The sciences, on the other hand, are dominated by large European publishers that price in U.S. dollars, reducing the volatility of prices and keeping price increases in foreign scientific journals under nine percent. Given the continuing slide of the dollar, expect increases in 2009 to approach ten percent overall.

As usual, the article includes detailed tables packed with serials cost information.

Average subscription prices in some high-ticket disciplines include: Chemistry, $3,490; Physics, $3,103; Engineering, $1,919; Biology, $1,810; and Technology, $1,776; and Astronomy, $1,671.

ARL Statistics 2005-06 PDF Published

The Association of Research Libraries has published a freely available PDF version of the ARL Statistics 2005-06.

The "Monograph and Serial Expenditures in ARL Libraries, 1986-2006" graph on page 13 shows that serial expenditures continue their sharp upward climb: there has been a 321% 1986-2006 increase. Serial unit cost, which peaked in 2000, has begun to climb again after a multi-year drop to a 180% increase. Monograph expenditures dropped slightly to a 82% increase, while monograph unit cost rose to a 78% increase.

Presentations from the SCOAP3 US Focal Meeting

SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) has released presentations from its SCOAP3 US Focal meeting at the University of California at Berkeley.

Here is an excerpt from the announcement that lists the presentations:

To find out more about SCOAP3, see the About SCOAP3 page.

Contact the Senate Now to Support the NIH Public Access Policy Mandate

If you are a U.S. citizen, now is the time to contact your Senators if you want to support the NIH open access mandate.

You can easily contact your senators using the ALA Action Alert Web form with my cut-and-paste version of ALA/ATA text or you can use the same form to write your own text.

If you want to write your own message, Peter Suber has gathered together key documents for talking points. If you use my cut-and-paste text, add a few sentences at the start of the text to personalize it.

Here's what Peter Suber has to say about the Senate fight:

This year is our best chance ever to win an OA mandate at the NIH. But the opposition from the publishing lobby is fierce. Remember that the AAP/PSP has launched PRISM, the behemoth Copyright Alliance has weighed in, and Elsevier has hired an extra lobbying firm. If you're a US citizen, please do what you can: contact your Senators and spread the word.

A Closer Look at OncologySTAT: Elsevier's Version of Open Access?

In a prior posting, I discussed Elsevier's release of OncologySTAT. In this one, I'll take a closer look at the system.

It appears that OncologySTAT permits registration by any type of user. As noted previously, it gathers fairly detailed registration information.

Is it an open access system? Let's look at it from the point of view of Peter Suber's' Open Access Overview. The barrier of registration exists, but the system removes price barriers. Since it doesn't change the underlying copyright terms of the included journals, it doesn’t remove permission barriers. However, as Suber states:

While removing price barriers without removing permission barriers is not enough for full OA under the BBB definition [see this explanation], there's no doubt that price barriers constitute the bulk of the problem for which OA is the solution. Removing price barriers alone will give most OA proponents most of what they want and need.

Moreover, some major open access advocates, such as Stevan Harnad, argue that free access is sufficient.

How is OncologySTAT funded? Here's an excerpt from the About OncologySTAT page:

OncologySTAT is commercially supported by online advertising, sponsorship, and educational grants. Individual access to OncologySTAT is free, based on users registering with the site.

The Advertise page offers a more detailed description of advertising options:

OncologySTAT offers an array of online advertising and sponsorship opportunities including:

  • Run-of-Site Online Advertising
  • Targeted Online Advertising: Behavioral, Contextual or Keyword
  • E-Newsletters: OncologySTAT InfoBLAST weekly e-newsletter
  • 27 Cancer-Type Sponsorships (Breast, Lung, Prostate, etc)
  • Banners, Spotlights, Skyscrapers, Keyword Search
  • iPanels – Interactive expandable ad units
  • Section and Content Sponsorship (Video, Chemotherapy Regimens, Article Downloads, etc.)
  • MicroSites: custom branded content/advertorial
  • Interactive live and on-demand Webinars

Here's what Suber says about ways that open access journals can be funded (italics added):

OA journals pay their bills very much the way broadcast television and radio stations do: those with an interest in disseminating the content pay the production costs upfront so that access can be free of charge for everyone with the right equipment. Sometimes this means that journals have a subsidy from the hosting university or professional society. Sometimes it means that journals charge a processing fee on accepted articles, to be paid by the author or the author's sponsor (employer, funding agency). OA journals that charge processing fees usually waive them in cases of economic hardship. OA journals with institutional subsidies tend to charge no processing fees. OA journals can get by on lower subsidies or fees if they have income from other publications, advertising, priced add-ons, or auxiliary services.

OncologySTAT is unusual in that the journals it covers also remain available under free-based, restricted-use licenses and as print subscriptions. However, if anyone can obtain free access though registration, is this a significant issue or an artifact of an older business model?

It appears that OncologySTAT is a limited open access experiment embedded in a larger conventional fee-based, restricted-access publishing model.

It will be interesting to see how OncologySTAT affects library subscriptions to these expensive medical journals. Cancellation decisions will be influenced by how permanent OncologySTAT appears to be: it will be more tempting to cancel subscriptions if the system shifts into a more permanent mode. Since there appears to be no change in underlying digital preservation arrangements, cancellation decisions will also be affected by how strongly libraries are committed to the long-term access to and preservation of these journals vs. short-term access to them. An immediate, massive rush to cancellation doesn't seem highly probable, and consequently OncologySTAT is more likely to add revenue than subtract it.

Elsevier Experiments with Free, Ad-Sponsored Access for Oncologists

Reed Elsevier has launched OncologySTAT, which offers oncologists free access to its medical journals in exchange for registration. Users will also have access to summaries of relevant research published elsewhere. Elsevier plans to support the service with online ads and the sale of mailing lists.

Here's an excerpt from "A Medical Publisher’s Unusual Prescription: Online Ads":

. . . Reed Elsevier executives hope that OncologySTAT.com users will be an attractive target for advertisers, providing a model for an array of portals they could set up for health care professionals. Future sites may focus on specialties like neurology, psychiatry, cardiology and infectious diseases, company officials said. . . .

Monique Fayad, an Elsevier senior vice president, said the total online advertising market was growing “in double digits” and added, “We expect it will be a $1 billion opportunity within the next two years.” . . .

Source: Freudenheim, Milt. "A Medical Publisher’s Unusual Prescription: Online Ads" The New York Times, 10 September 2007, C1, C5.

BioMed Central Replies to Yale

On Sunday, DigitalKoans reported that Yale had canceled its BioMed Central membership. Today, BioMed Central has replied to the Yale posting about that decision.

Here's an excerpt from the BioMed Central posting:

The main concern expressed in the library's announcement is that the amount payable to cover the cost of publications by Yale researchers in BioMed Central's journals has increased significantly, year on year. Looking at the rapid growth of BioMed Central's journals, it is not difficult to see why that is the case. BioMed Central's success means that more and more researchers (from Yale and elsewhere) are submitting to our journals each year.


An increase in the number of open access articles being submitted and going on to be published does lead to an increase in the total cost of the open access publishing service provided by BioMed Central, but the cost per article published in BioMed Central's journals represents excellent value compared to other publishers.

The Yale library announcement notes that it paid $31,625 to cover the cost of publication in BioMed Central's journals by their authors in 2006, and that the anticipated cost in 2007 will be higher. But to put this into context, according to the Association of Research Library statistics, Yale spent more than $7m on serial subscriptions. Nonetheless, we do recognize that library budgets are very tight and that supporting the rapid growth of open access publishing out of library budgets alone may not be possible. . . .

If library budgets were the only source of funding to cover the cost of open access publication, this would be a significant obstacle. Fortunately, however, there are other sources of funding that are helping to accelerate the transition to open access. . . .

The Wellcome Trust report estimated that on average the cost associated with publishing a peer-reviewed research article is less than $3000, and further estimated that this represented only 1-2% of the typical investment by a funder in carrying out the research that led to the article. It is not surprising therefore, that major biomedical research funders such as NIH and HHMI now encourage open access publication, and are willing to provide financial support for it. BioMed Central's list of biomedical funder open access policies provides further information.

Authors may, of course, pay articles from their own grant funds, and around half of articles published in BioMed Central journals are indeed paid for in this way. However, relying on authors to pay for the cost of open access publication themselves puts open access journals at a significant disadvantage compared to traditional journals, which are supported centrally through library budgets, and so are often perceived to be 'free' by authors.

That is why BioMed Central introduced its institutional membership scheme, which allows institutions to centrally support the dissemination of open access research in the same way that they centrally support subscription journals, thereby creating a 'level playing field'.

In order to ensure that funding of open access publication is sustainable, we have encouraged institutions to set aside a small fraction of the indirect funding contribution that they receive from funders to create a central open access fund.

Over the last several months, BioMed Central has hosted workshops on the issue of sustainable funding for open access at the UK's Association of Research Manager's and Administrators annual conference and at the Medical Library Association's meeting in Philadelphia [see report]. Further such workshops are planned.

In this way, by helping research funders, administrators, VPs of research and librarians to work together to provide sustainable funding channels for open access, we aim to "provide a viable long-term revenue base built upon logical and scalable options", as called for in statement fromYale's library. . . .

We look forward to working with librarians and research administrators at Yale to develop a solution that will make it as easy as possible for Yale's researchers to continue publish their open access research articles in BioMed Central's journals.

Yale Cancels BioMed Central Membership

Except for current submissions, Yale’s Cushing/Whitney Medical and Kline Science Libraries have stopped funding author fees for Yale faculty who publish papers in BioMed Central journals. According to ARL statistics, the Yale spent $7,705,342 on serials in 2005-06, which raises the question: If Yale can’t afford to support BioMed Central, what academic library can?

Here’s an excerpt from the Yale posting:

The libraries’ BioMedCentral membership represented an opportunity to test the technical feasibility and the business model of this OA publisher. While the technology proved acceptable, the business model failed to provide a viable long-term revenue base built upon logical and scalable options. Instead, BioMedCentral has asked libraries for larger and larger contributions to subsidize their activities. Starting with 2005, BioMed Central page charges cost the libraries $4,658, comparable to a single biomedicine journal subscription. The cost of page charges for 2006 then jumped to $31,625. The page charges have continued to soar in 2007 with the libraries charged $29,635 through June 2007, with $34,965 in potential additional page charges in submission.

As we deal with unprecedented increases in electronic resources, we have had to make hard choices about which resources to keep. At this point we can no longer afford to support the BioMedCentral model.

(Thanks to Open Access News.)

Microsoft Joins Effort to Provide Free or Low-Cost Access to Journals in Developing Countries

Microsoft will provide an access and authentication system to support the AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture), HINARI (Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative), and OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment) programs.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Many developing countries lack access to the information and training that can help save lives, improve the quality of life, and assist with economic development. To address this disparity, more than 100 publishers, three UN organizations, two major universities, and Microsoft announced the extension of programs that provide free or almost free access to online subscriptions of peer-reviewed journals. Information technology leader Microsoft announced its support of technical assistance to enhance access to online research for scientists, policymakers, and librarians in the developing world.

The three sister programs—HINARI (Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative), AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) and OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment)—provide research access to journals focusing on health, agriculture and the environment, respectively to more than 100 of the world’s poorest countries. All three of the programs will now have official commitment from the partners until 2015, marking the target for reaching the Millennium Development Goals. . . .

As the initiative’s only technology partner, Microsoft is providing a new system for access and authentication enabling secure and effective use of the programs in developing countries. Through these enhanced features provided under the Intelligent Application Gateway (IAG) 2007 as part of the Microsoft Forefront Security products, the system will be able to meet expanded demand and perform at the standards of today’s most heavily trafficked websites.

In a World Health Organization (WHO) survey conducted in 2000, researchers and academics in developing countries ranked access to subscription based journals as one of their most pressing problems. In countries with per capita income of less than USD $1000 per annum, 56 percent of academic institutions surveyed had no current subscriptions to international journals. . . .

The public-private partnerships of these three programs have already resulted in:

  • A strengthened intellectual foundation for universities, enabling faculty to develop evidence-based curricula, perform research on a par with peers in industrialized countries, develop their own publishing record, and enable students to conduct research and seek education in new and emerging scientific fields;
  • More science-driven public policies and regulatory frameworks;
  • Greater capacity for organizations to gather and disseminate to the public new scientific knowledge in the medical, agricultural and environmental sciences and deliver improved services;
  • Increased participation of experts from developing countries in international scientific and policy debates; and
  • A greater movement toward library patronage at universities and an enhancement of the status of libraries.

Representatives from the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Environmental Programme, and leading science and technology publishers, together with representatives from Cornell and Yale Universities, met today in Washington DC to officially extend their cooperation to 2015, in line with the UN’s MDGs.

And the Beat Goes On: Serials Crisis Redux

Library Journal has published its annual review of serials prices. This year, its title is "Serial Wars."

There is considerable discussion of open access issues in the article, and Peter Suber has commented: "This is an excellent picture of where OA stands today. If you have colleagues who want to know what’s been happening and only have time for one article, give them this URL."

As usual, the big bucks in serials are for STM journals (see the table below from the article), and, no surprise, the country with the highest average price per title is the Netherlands.

TABLE 1 AVERAGE 2007 PRICE FOR SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINES
Discipline Average Price Per Title
Chemistry $3,429
Physics 2,865
Engineering 2,071
Biology 1,676
Technology 1,502
Astronomy 1,426
Geology 1,424
Food Science 1,345
Math & Computer Science $1,313
Zoology 1,308
Health Sciences 1,199
Botany 1,179
General Science 1,139
Geography 1,050
Agriculture 898

What about next year?: "Expect overall price increases to be in the seven percent to nine percent range for 2008 subscriptions."

Trends in Scholarly Journal Prices 2000-2006

LISU, which is based in the Department of Information Science at Loughborough University, has released Trends in Scholarly Journal Prices 2000-2006, a report commissioned by Oxford Journals.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

The research updates the previous findings on pricing for biomedical journals, and has also been extended to analyze pricing for social science titles. Findings within the report show little variation to the original data published in 2004: there are continued trends in price variance across publishers, including median price increases ranging from 42% to 104% for biomedical titles, and 47% to 120% for social science titles. Median journal prices also continue to vary widely between publishers for both these disciplines, ranging from £198 to £859 in biomedical titles, and £119 to £513 in the Social Sciences. . . .

Further information on the report:

• Over 8,000 journals were included in the analysis.

• Publishers included in the analysis were:

o Blackwell Publishing

o Cambridge University Press

o Elsevier

o Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

o Nature (specialist journals)

o Oxford Journals

o Springer

o Sage

o Taylor and Francis

o University of Chicago Press

o Wiley

Key Findings

• Median journal prices ranged from £198 to £859 for biomedical titles, and £119 to £513 for social science titles in 2006

• Increases in the median journal price between 2000 and 2006 varied from 42% to 104% in biomedical titles and 47% to 120% for social science titles.

• Median price per page ranged from 31p to £1.06 for biomedical titles, and 13p to 93p for social science titles in 2006

• Median price per point of impact factor ranged from £110 to £775 for biomedical titles in 2006, and from £186 to £552 for social science titles.

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