Library Journal: Periodicals Price Survey 2010

Library Journal recently published its annual survey of periodical prices: average no. of titles; average price per title per discipline; average % increase by year, etc. The primary conclusion is that libraries continue to face a tough battle in subscribing to journals. This will still be the case even when the economy improves as increased library funding will probably not be the top priority for many academic institutions.

Particularly interesting is Library Journal‘s commentary on the impact of open access:

Despite some tremendous efforts by proponents, open access (OA) initiatives have had only a modest effect on the publishing industry as a whole. Open access journals are not yet considered mainstream publishing venues. And while the number of peer-reviewed, full open access journals represents ten percent of all peer-reviewed journals, estimates are that only two percent to 4.6 percent of total articles published are OA. Experimentation continues, nonetheless. Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, and UC-Berkeley announced their joint support for A Compact on Open-Access Publishing that promotes the economic advantages of a robust author-pays option for scholarly publishing and urges the academic community to step up universitywide efforts to make the author-pays model more viable.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy was made permanent in 2009, requiring articles resulting from NIH-funded research be deposited in PubMed and openly accessible within 12 months of publication. Then in June 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology convened a Scholarly Publishing Roundtable to review the current state of scholarly publishing and develop recommendations for expanding public access to the journal articles arising from research funded by agencies of the U.S. government.

This group recommends that federal research funding agencies should develop and implement an explicit public access policy that brings about open access to the results of the research that it funds. It appears that the NIH policy will be extended to other federal agencies. The round table did recognize the value of peer review in scholarly communication and did not recommend immediate open access to published materials, but it clearly indicated that there is a public good in broad access to this content (bit.ly/5GXLW9).

There are many efforts under way to continue developments in OA. An open access initiative in particle physics, known as SCOAP3, is under consideration worldwide but has not yet been adopted. Many universities have mandates that require faculty to post journal articles in their home institutions’ open access repositories. With the economic downturn, it is even more evident that the current commercial publishing models will be difficult to sustain. OA publishing may have a role in containing costs as new journals could be launched on OA platforms as opposed to being added to costly commercial ones. It remains to be seen if that will come to fruition.

Some commercial publishers seem tobe under the impression that they will simply have to ride out the current bad times, but the changes libraries need to make to get through the next few years might be more drastic than imagined. Libraries might have to alter radically how and what content they deliver rather than merely waiting for the good times to reemerge. In such a climate, open access will become an increasingly important part of academic publishing.