What is the scholarly communication crisis? It is the loss of access to the scholarly research literature, as the rising cost of journal subscriptions far out-strip institutional library budgets. Each year libraries can afford to subscribe to fewer and fewer journals. Over the last 15 years, the price of research journals has risen over 200% (compare with the Consumer Price Index, up 57% over this same period). Consequently, academic libraries are subscribing to fewer and fewer titles - and slashing book buying as well (see ARL's 2001 The Impact of Serial Costs on Library Collections). The inflation is due to a number of factors; most prominently, commercial publishers controlling an increasing percentage of titles, at the expense of scholarly societies and university presses. Profit margins for commercial publishers typically are at least 20% - with the profits coming from university libraries. Mergers and acquisitions exacerbate the trend, to the point where five publishers now produce over 50% of the science journals received at the University of Connecticut.
Origins of the Crisis in Scholarly Communication
Correct and concise outline, from Iowa State University
To Publish and Perish [pdf] (1998)
Joint statement from a national meeting of presidents, chief academic officers, and librarians of major research universities in the U.S.
Open Access Forum in the journal Nature March/ April, 2004
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