A new study shows universities pay more or less for academic journal bundles than would be expected based simply on size or number of Ph.D.s granted.

A new study shows universities pay more or less for academic journal bundles than would be expected based simply on size or number of Ph.D.s granted.

How much did your university pay for your journals?

John is a Science contributing correspondent.

What is your university paying for academic journal subscriptions? The answer can be surprisingly hard to find. Universities buy access to most of their subscription journals through large bundled packages, much like home cable subscriptions that include hundreds of TV stations. But whereas cable TV providers largely stick to advertised prices, universities negotiate with academic publishing companies behind closed doors, and those deals usually come with nondisclosure agreements that keep the bundled prices secret. After several years of digging, and even legal action, a team of economists has pried out some of those numbers, revealing the bundle prices charged by Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley. Some universities are paying nearly twice what universities of seemingly similar size and research output pay for access to the very same journals.

 (2009 payment data for each university or university consortia is available here.)

For more, see the full story in this week's issue of Science.

*Update, 17 June, 5:41 p.m.: We have replaced the original graph, in which circle size reflected relative payments among each publisher, with one where the size is relative to all the payments together.

Posted in Economics, Scientific Community Scientific Publishing