Home > Scholarly Communication > On growing journal prices

On growing journal prices


Still alive and working on my thesis. In the meantime, some interesting stuff I have found.


Distinguished economists Ted Bergstrom and Preston McAfee sent an open letter to university presidents and provosts last fall suggesting, among other things, that universities should bill publishers for faculty service if the cost of a journal exceeds a certain reasonable level (see “End Free Ride for Costly Journals,” LJ 12/05). To identify the worst offenders, Bergstrom and McAfee created a web site that charts the cost of around 5000 journals, using price per article and price per citation to rank each journal as good value, medium value, or bad value (www.journalprices.com).

The details have been debated, but one conclusion is unavoidable: an extremely high percentage of journals from the six largest STM publishers fall into the bad value category (74% on average), while an extremely low percentage of titles from the nonprofits are rated as bad (14%). Blackwell and Elsevier had the lowest percentages of bad titles (55% and 68%, respectively), while Sage, Springer, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley all had percentages in the mid-eighties. The data challenge librarians and scholars to reconcile price to value before renewing a journal or donating time and expertise to help a journal succeed.


This website represents our best attempt to compute the price per article and price per citation. Currently we use the ISI data for citations through 2005 and 2006 prices, which are the most recent data available to us. Not all journals report information the same way, and errors are possible. When reported to us, we correct errors. Moreover, prices per unit for journals that have recently expanded are underestimated. The coloration (red for very low value, yellow for low value, and green for good value) is computed by comparing the composite price index to the median for non-profit journals in the same subject. Be advised that price per citation, price per article and the composite index are not perfect measures of value. Neither of us are experts in most of the fields represented, and others may reasonably, or unreasonably, disagree with the value assessment. We have mapped a large set of journal categories into 17 areas.


Well, just sharing some good sources. They can be very useful.

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