Self-help for learned journals: Scientific societies and the commerce of publishing in the 1950s – Aileen Fyfe, 2021

Abstract:  In the decades after the Second World War, learned society publishers struggled to cope with the expanding output of scientific research and the increased involvement of commercial publishers in the business of publishing research journals. Could learned society journals survive economically in the postwar world, against this competition? Or was the emergence of a sales-based commercial model of publishing – in contrast to the traditional model of subsidized journal publishing – an opportunity to transform the often-fragile finances of learned societies? But there was also an existential threat: if commercial firms could successfully publish scientific journals, were learned society publishers no longer needed? This paper investigates how British learned society publishers adjusted to the new economic realities of the postwar world, through an investigation of the activities organized by the Royal Society of London and the Nuffield Foundation, culminating in the 1963 report Self-Help for Learned Journals. It reveals the postwar decades as the time when scientific research became something to be commodified and sold to libraries, rather than circulated as part of a scholarly mission. It will be essential reading for all those campaigning to transition academic publishing – including learned society publishing – away from the sales-based model once again.

 

Open Access Charges – Consolidation, Increases, and Breaking Through the $10k Barrier – Delta Think

“To compare like for like, we analyze non-discounted, CC BY charges. Overall, list prices are increasing slowly, but with some outliers:

The big headline is the high-impact journals now offering OA options. This has pushed maximum APCs for hybrid journals to well above their previous limits of $5,900. This year, the maximum is now $11,390 (from the Nature research journals), with the Cell titles mostly coming in at $8,900 ($9,900 for the flagship Cell).
The highest prices for fully OA journals have risen from $5,435 to $5,560.
Fully OA journal APCs are less expensive than hybrid, averaging around 58% of hybrid average APCs. This difference has increased a few percentage points over previous years, representing a small convergence.
The average hybrid APC has increased by just over 5%. This is significantly larger than the 1% or so increases over the previous few years.
The average fully OA APC has increased by 8.5% over the last year – more than twice that of previous years….”

What Is the Price of Science? | mBio

Abstract:  The peer-reviewed scientific literature is the bedrock of science. However, scientific publishing is undergoing dramatic changes, which include the expansion of open access, an increased number of for-profit publication houses, and ready availability of preprint manuscripts that have not been peer reviewed. In this opinion article, we discuss the inequities and concerns that these changes have wrought.

 

Why Is Access to the Scholarly Journal Literature So Expensive?

“For more than 30 years the spiraling costs of scholarly journal subscriptions, often called the “serials crisis,” have been a hotly debated topic. Academics and librarians have pointed out the high profit levels of the major commercial publishers, despite that the content they sell is provided by unpaid authors and reviewers. The publishers then resell it to the universities of these same authors and reviewers. Publishers have attempted to justify their prices by cost increases, their investments in information technology, and the value they add. A useful framework for understanding the situation is Michael Porter’s five forces model for explaining the competitive conditions in an industry. Despite claims to the contrary, the degree of market concentration in scholarly publishing is not higher than that in many other industries, and it is not the main cause of the problem. But because the big deals of different publishers are complements rather than substitutes, the leading companies essentially do not compete for customers, in contrast to other industries, such as mobile phones or automobiles. The high barriers to new entrants, partly due to journal ranking lists and impact factors, as well as the low bargaining power of suppliers and customers, explain why this industry has been so well shielded from the disruptive forces of the Internet. The protected competitive position and high profitability are also major reasons why the big subscription publishers have been slow to adopt the open access business model….”

Science Policy, Competition and Profits

How much India is spending on journal subscriptions? how difficult is it for Indians to access publicly funded research? A nationwide subscription proposal comes with a lot of financial and moral baggage. 

Knowledge Unlatched Strikes Again and Again | Jeff Pooley

“With a hat tip to the indispensable Richard Poynder, here is a quick follow up to yesterday’s post on Knowledge Unlatched’s latest move to disguise its for-profit status. I focused on KU’s Open Research Community (ORC), launched last year as an implied nonprofit. In yesterday’s post, I focused on ORC’s “Community Manager” Pablo Markin and KU head Sven Fund.

The plot is quite a bit thicker, though I won’t do the topic—KU and Sven Fund’s persistent failure to disclose—justice in this short follow-up….”

Knowledge Unlatched Strikes Again and Again | Jeff Pooley

“With a hat tip to the indispensable Richard Poynder, here is a quick follow up to yesterday’s post on Knowledge Unlatched’s latest move to disguise its for-profit status. I focused on KU’s Open Research Community (ORC), launched last year as an implied nonprofit. In yesterday’s post, I focused on ORC’s “Community Manager” Pablo Markin and KU head Sven Fund.

The plot is quite a bit thicker, though I won’t do the topic—KU and Sven Fund’s persistent failure to disclose—justice in this short follow-up….”

Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account At Academia.Edu

“As privatized platforms like Academia.edu look to monetize scholarly writing even further, researchers, scientists and academics across the globe must now consider alternatives to proprietary companies that aim to profit from our writing and offer little transparency as to how our work will be used in the future.

In other words: It is time to delete your Academia.edu account….”

One Journal Publishing Company is More Profitable Than Netflix – Library News

“If your article was published within the last few years, there’s a good chance it was in a journal owned by one these four companies: Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer and Taylor & Francis. In the early 1970s, they published 15% of the researched produced in the world*. Today, it’s up to 53% of the world’s research.*

Over the years, these publishing companies have merged and acquired smaller publishers, in an effort to own even more of the journal landscape. The lack of competition allows these companies the ability to charge a high price, often not allowing universities to buy journals outright, instead only letting universities rent journals through subscriptions. Universities often pay millions to rent access to research their own faculty conduct.

The biggest contender in the journal publishing market is Elsevier. With 3,000 journals and publishing nearly half a million articles per year, RELX, the parent company of Elsevier, had revenues of US $9.8 billion in 2019. Elsevier’s profits account for about 34% of RELX’s total profits.

You can read more about these oligopolies (market shared by a small number of producers or sellers) and how they are contributing to the unaffordability of journals in the Vox article The War to Free Science. …”

Pengene bak vitenskapelig publisering | Tidsskrift for Den norske legeforening

From Google’s English:  “Most doctors relate to the pharmaceutical industry with a healthy skepticism. Scientific publications are also something all doctors and researchers have to deal with every single day, but knowledge of and skepticism of the scientific publishing industry seems to be less. The topic has become more relevant, as everyday publication has changed radically in recent decades. The Research Council of Norway has also, like 14 other countries, approved Plan S. This means that research funded by funds from the Research Council announced after 2021 must be published in open scientific journals (open access) ( 1 – 3). How does this change scientific publishing, and what will the industry itself have to change? The purpose of this article is to draw attention to existing problems with scientific publication and new problems created with open access and Plan S….

The most important thing we as users of the system can do is to be aware of the actual conditions and meet the publishing houses, journals and scientific publications we read with a healthy skepticism. With increased attention, the professional communities can put pressure on the industry and the authorities. This has already led to changes in Plan S….”