“Research at UNC is financed by taxpayers and other grants. Neither the author nor peer reviewers are paid if their original research is accepted by a scholarly journal for publication.
Private publishing companies then package journals together in clumps, and sell university libraries access to them. The publishing companies charge each university differently, depending on its subscription history and school size, and have each school sign nondisclosure agreements, keeping universities from discovering costs paid by peers.
Once the content is back in the hands of universities, it’s put behind a paywall, where only university affiliates can access the information.
In this model, taxpayers fund research, and then must pay again to access it.
Nerea Llamas is the associate University librarian for collections, strategies and services, and her job is to strategize the acquisition and dissemination of academia in the digital age.
She said this process can be unhealthy.
“The effect is that not only are we paying multiple times, but we are cutting off access to other people who can’t afford to pay for that,” she said. “That could be other institutions in the U.S., but then also other institutions internationally.”
Llamas said the publishing companies advertise their packaged, multi-journal deals as the best cost available. But over time, the companies can raise the price by introducing new costs and subscriptions, like how cable companies can charge customers for unwanted perks, she said.
Political science professor Timothy Ryan has published many scholarly articles, and said he sympathizes with the Libraries’ concern.
“Publishers — and Elsevier is the clearest example of this — make a boatload by selling academics’ material back to us, at a steep premium,” he said. “It’s not at all clear what value they add.”
Elsevier is the world’s largest commercial publisher of scholarly journals, with close to $4 billion in 2018 revenue and profit margins consistently above 30 percent. …”