The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.1107 Sunday, 24 December 2006
Date: Friday, 22 Dec 2006 03:06:12 -0800
Subject: 17.1055 Price of Academic Journals
Comment: RE: SHK 17.1055 Price of Academic Journals
>Stanford University has held public discussions
>for the past couple of years about the price of
>academic journals what Stanford faculty might
>do about it. Since this may be of interest to a
>wider audience, I have supplied a link below so
>that you may see what was discussed at the most
>recent colloquium. It begins:
>>Although there was little clear consensus about
>>strategy among presenters, faculty and staff at a
>>Nov. 6 colloquium on issues in scholarly publishing,
>>there were two points on which almost everyone
>>agreed: The high costs for journal subscriptions charged
>>by commercial publishers in recent years are unsustainable,
>>and the ability to distribute articles electronically has
>>fundamentally changed academic research and publishing.
>If this is of interest, you may read the article here:
Thanks to Mike Jensen for the reference to Barbara Palmer's article.
Interesting reading, prompting one to wonder if the cable TV companies
are the ones who own the for-profit academic journals...
I noted Prof. Bergstrom's (Dept. Economics, U.C. Santa Barbara) comment
that "[p]rices [of academic journals] should be decreasing rather than
increasing, since the ability of scholars to publish papers on their own
websites has reduced the value of journal subscriptions."
Given the rest of the discussion in Ms. Palmer's article - most notably
the fact alluded to by Prof. Bergstrom: that a rather high percentage of
articles appearing in such journals are available, without cost, on the
internet - it's not at all clear that Prof. Bergstrom's conclusion
should follow. If the majority of such articles are available on the
internet for free, then that might cause a material reduction in journal
subscriptions. And with such a reduction in subscriptions would come a
reduction in revenues. But, as those involved in the publishing
business are aware, certain and significant costs of producing a journal
are fixed and unrelated to the number of subscribers. Thus, with a
significant decrease in subscriptions, per-copy production costs could
increase dramatically and thus compel the publisher to raise
Now, with such a brief article, it's impossible to know what else Prof.
Bergstrom said in relation to this claim, including his assumptions,
caveats, etc. So my comments are not intended as a criticism, but
rather an observation, and a rather simplistic one at that, since other
factors affect academic journal pricing.
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