LIBER welcomes the recent publication of figures showing UK university expenditure on Elsevier’s journal packages.
The figures shine a light on a market that currently lacks transparency and expose the wide variation in prices being paid by UK universities. These variations cannot be rationally explained in the current market where universities are subscribing to very similar journal packages.
Beyond this, LIBER questions the fairness of the current subscription prices. As RLUK has stated, research libraries are experiencing yearly increases in subscription prices, despite the fact that production costs have dropped for publishers in a digital environment.
These high costs are forcing some libraries to cancel their subscriptions. Of the institutions which continue to pay, it is unclear what they receive in return. Some publishers are, for example, adding new text and data mining clauses to their licence terms. These clauses limit the way in which users can access content and this in turn means that the licence terms do not always meet the needs of libraries and their users.
Given the importance of this debate, LIBER calls for the discussion to be widened. We encourage European institutions to make their expenditure for subscriptions and Article Processing Charges publicly available. This will feed an open dialogue on how to achieve a healthier scholarly communications market based on value for money and fair pricing.
Such information would also help the European Commission and other European funding agencies in their quest to support open access publishing and innovative approaches to the release and disseminate of research results, with a view to fostering a sustainable and competitive market for scientific publishing in the digital era.
Finally, we strongly urge publishers still using non-disclosure clauses to abandon this practice. It is contrary to the fostering of a healthy and functional market and creates uncertainty for customers.