Evaluating big deal journal bundles

Abstract:  Large commercial publishers sell bundled online subscriptions to

their entire list of academic journals at prices significantly lower

than the sum of their á la carte prices. Bundle prices differ drastically

between institutions, but they are not publicly posted. The

data that we have collected enable us to compare the bundle

prices charged by commercial publishers with those of nonprofit

societies and to examine the types of price discrimination practiced

by commercial and nonprofit journal publishers. This information

is of interest to economists who study monopolist pricing,

librarians interested in making efficient use of library budgets, and

scholars who are interested in the availability of the work that

they publish.

Evaluating big deal journal bundles

Abstract:  Large commercial publishers sell bundled online subscriptions to

their entire list of academic journals at prices significantly lower

than the sum of their á la carte prices. Bundle prices differ drastically

between institutions, but they are not publicly posted. The

data that we have collected enable us to compare the bundle

prices charged by commercial publishers with those of nonprofit

societies and to examine the types of price discrimination practiced

by commercial and nonprofit journal publishers. This information

is of interest to economists who study monopolist pricing,

librarians interested in making efficient use of library budgets, and

scholars who are interested in the availability of the work that

they publish.

Joint COAR-UNESCO Statement on Open Access (May 9, 2016)

“Some organizations are promoting a large-scale shift from subscriptions to open access via article processing charges (APC’s). However, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in this model:

[1] Consider institutions with smaller budgets and developing countries. Authors will be unable to publish once limited funds have been exhausted. Such a system will need to support researchers who cannot pay APCs – to avoid further skewing a scholarly publishing system that is already biased against the research undertaken in certain disciplines and countries.

[2] Avoid further concentration in the international publishing industry. A flip to APCs will further consolidate the large-scale monopoly of the international publishing industry. In the current system, the five largest publishers publish over 50% of the research papers produced. A mere shift towards the pay-to-publish model will institutionalize the influence of these companies, and discourage new entrants and models other than APC models.

[3] Explore ways to reduce costs. Recent studies indicate that, at current APC costs, there would be a buffer of minimum 40% when subscriptions would be transferred to an open access model. New models should build in mechanisms that ensure cost reductions. Globally, we are already paying billions of Euros/Dollars per year on subscription access to journals. Simply shifting payments to support APCs may lead to higher systemic costs, curb innovation, and inhibit the scholarly community’s ability to take advantage of new models and tools….”

The Economic Logic of ‘Open Science’ and the Balance between Private Property Rights and the Public Domain in Scientific Data and Information: A Primer | SIEPR

“The progress of scientific and technological knowledge is a cumulative process, one that depends in the long?run on the rapid and widespread disclosure of new findings, so that they may be rapidly discarded if unreliable, or confirmed and brought into fruitful conjunction with other bodies of reliable knowledge. “Open science” institutions provide an alternative to the intellectual property approach to dealing with difficult problems in the allocation of resources for the production and distribution of information. As a mode of generating reliable knowledge, “open science” depends upon a specific non-market reward system to solve a number of resource allocation problems that have their origins in the particular characteristics of information as an economic good. There are features of the collegiate reputational reward system — conventionally associated with open science practice in the academy and public research institutes – that create conflicts been the ostensible norms of ‘cooperation’ and the incentives for non-cooperative, rivalrous behavior on the part of individuals and research units who race to establish “priority.” These sources of inefficiency notwithstanding, open science is properly regarded as uniquely well suited to the goal of maximising the rate of growth of the stock of reliable knowledge.

High access charges imposed by holders of monopoly rights in intellectual property have overall consequences for the conduct of science that are particularly damaging to programs of exploratory research which are recognized to be vital for the long-term progress of knowledge-driven economies….”

Preliminary Findings: Rent Seeking by Elsevier – The Knowledge G.A.P.

Over the last few decades, there has been ongoing debate and distress regarding the effects of the journal subscription paywall and the very real barriers to knowledge access that it creates. As major academic publishers invest and redirect their business strategies to open access and alternative paying structures, it may seem as if the access to knowledge battle is starting to be won. However, as big publishers move towards openness they have also been redirecting their business strategies towards the acquisition of scholarly infrastructure, the tools and services that underpin the scholarly research life cycle, many of which are geared towards data analytics. We argue that moves toward increased control over openness and data analytics by big publishers are simultaneous processes of profit maximization. Could it be that our attention on the paywall has ditracted us from paying attention to the strategic takeover of infrastructure by the publishers? These processes should be examined closely as they are actively entrenching the publisher’s’ power and control which could be posing great threats to the exclusion of already marginalized researchers and institutions.   

Dove Medical Press Acquired by Taylor and Francis Group

Taylor & Francis Group, a leading publisher of specialist academic books and journals and part of Informa PLC, has acquired the Open Access (OA) publisher, Dove Medical Press. This acquisition signals Taylor & Francis Group’s ongoing commitment to developing both its Medical Journal and OA programs.

Elsevier acquisition highlights the need for community-based scholarly communication infrastructure – SPARC

“Like many others in the scholarly community, we were very disappointed to learn about the recent acquisition by Elsevier of bepress, the provider of the popular Digital Commons repository platform.1The acquisition is especially troubling for the hundreds of institutions that use Digital Commons to support their open access repositories. These institutions now find their repository services owned and managed by Elsevier, a company well known for its obstruction of open access and repositories.2

While we were disappointed, we were not surprised. Elsevier’s interest in bepress and Digital Commons is reflective of the company’s long term strategy to stake an ownership claim in all the functions vital to the research cycle—from data gathering and annotation, to sharing and publication, to analytics and evaluation. Prior high-profile acquisitions (including SSRN and Mendeley) have made this strategy crystal clear. While this might be a smart business move on the part of a commercial company, it presents significant challenges and risks to the academic and research community.

The dangers inherent in the increasing control of crucial research communication functions in the hands of a small number of commercial players are well-known and well-documented.3 The dysfunction in the academic journal market serves as a case in point. This consolidated control has led to unaffordable costs, limited utility of research articles, the proliferation of western publishing biases, and a system in which publisher lock-in through big deal licenses is the norm. This situation is damaging for the research enterprise, individual researchers, and for society. Further consolidation of the market across functions and platforms—including key elements like research information systems and open access repositories—will exacerbate this already unhealthy situation.”

Elsevier acquires bepress, a leading service provider used by academic institutions to showcase their research

“Elsevier, the global information analytics business specializing in science and health, today acquired bepress, a Berkeley, California-based business that helps academic libraries showcase and share their institutions’ research for maximum impact. Founded by three University of California, Berkeley professors in 1999, bepress allows institutions to collect, organize, preserve and disseminate their intellectual output, including preprints, working papers, journals or specific articles, dissertations, theses, conference proceedings and a wide variety of other data.”

Elsevier Acquires bepress

“Today, Elsevier announces its acquisition of bepress. In a move entirely consistent with its strategy to pivot beyond content licensing to preprints, analytics, workflow, and decision-support, Elsevier is now a major if not the foremost single player in the institutional repository landscape. If successful, and there are some risks, this acquisition will position Elsevier as an increasingly dominant player in preprints, continuing its march to adopt and coopt open access….”

Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science? | Science | The Guardian

“Scientists are well aware that they seem to be getting a bad deal. The publishing business is ‘perverse and needless’, the Berkeley biologist Michael Eisen wrote in a 2003 article for the Guardian, declaring that it ‘should be a public scandal’. Adrian Sutton, a physicist at Imperial College, told me that scientists ‘are all slaves to publishers. What other industry receives its raw materials from its customers, gets those same customers to carry out the quality control of those materials, and then sells the same materials back to the customers at a vastly inflated price?’ (A representative of RELX Group, the official name of Elsevier since 2015, told me that it and other publishers ‘serve the research community by doing things that they need that they either cannot, or do not do on their own, and charge a fair price for that service’.)”