Memorandum from the Library, University
of East Anglia
1.1 Research councils and other publicly-funded
bodies should stipulate that all research they fund is published
in "free-to view forums", such as open-access journals
or institutional eprint repositories. They should cover the authors'
costs of publishing in open access journals within grant awards
(paragraphs 4.2, 4.7). The Government should discuss this issue
with the United States and within the European Union with the
aim of making this an internationally agreed policy.
1.2 The Government is encouraged to investigate
the possibility of national rather than sector-based licensing
deals that cover all publicly-funded bodies, eg NHS, HE, Research
Council funded institutes (paragraph 3.10).
1.3 The Government should re-emphasize to
academics that Institutional audits/Research Assessment Exercises
will assess the quality of their research articles rather than
the journals in which they are published, in order to overcome
academics' fears of publishing in "free-to view forums"
(paragraphs 4.4, 5.2).
1.4 Legal Deposit Libraries and the BLDSC
should coordinate with publishers to develop a sustainable strategy
for the acquisition, dissemination and preservation of non-print
material (paragraph 6.1).
1.5 The Government should consider applying
a VAT status to electronic information resources that is equivalent
to that for print, ie VAT zero-rated (paragraphs 3.11, 4.11).
1.6 An effective Code of Practice and Industry
Watchdog should be set up to monitor the Academic Publishing market
(paragraph 4.5). Particular areas to pursue might include the
Academic publishers should be encouraged
to offer free access to electronic archives after a one year embargo
period (paragraph 3.4)
Academic publishers should adopt
a dual publishing model giving authors a choice between "reader-pays"
versus "author pays" models. Pay-per-view services should
be offered by all journals employing the traditional "reader-pays"
model to widen access to research data (paragraph 4.9)
All academic publishers should be
encouraged to adopt a policy of allowing the authors of research
articles to retain the copyright thereby making self-archiving
an easier option for authors.
3. What impact do publishers' current policies
on pricing and provision of scientific journals, particularly
"big deal schemes", have on libraries and the teaching
and research communities they serve?
3.1. For several years the subscription
costs of scientific journals have escalated at a rate higher than
inflation and considerably higher than the increase in library
acquisition budgets. The exact reasons for these high subscription
increases are unclear. One factor is an increase in the size of
some journals reflecting the expansion in scientific research.
As a result of these price rises, academic libraries such as the
University of East Anglia have been forced annually to cut the
number of scientific journals they purchase, (despite an increasing
range of subjects researched and taught at the university), in
order to maintain their costs at a manageable level, or seek additional
funds to cover the increased costs. This is not sustainable in
the long-term. The advent of electronic publishing has further
exacerbated the situation since publishers often charge more for
electronic subscriptions on the basis that they offer "more
added value" despite the fact that there is little additional
cost to the publisher in supplying it.
3.2 Currently there is no consistency on
the pricing of printed versus electronic subscriptions either
between different publishers, or even from one year to the next
within the same publisher, which makes forward planning of restricted
budgets in academic libraries very difficult, (especially as these
changes can be announced very late in the subscription renewal
process). For example:
3.2.1. A few publishers still offer online
access for free with the printed subscription, whilst others only
provide electronic access for an additional premium. Some will
allow print only subscriptions- others do not offer this option
but instead insist on either an online only or a combined subscription
(eg EMBO Journal). The years provided by an electronic subscription
can also vary considerably: some may only include online access
for that current year (eg Kluwer), others a "rolling back
archive" of the last recent four years (eg American Chemical
Society), or even access to the whole archive (eg Oxford University
3.2.2 Recently a new trend has emerged from
scientific publishers: releasing back archives of several years
for a separate fee in addition to the annual electronic subscription-
effectively asking libraries to pay twice to gain electronic access
to material they have already purchased in the past as print subscriptions.
3.2.3 The whole rationale behind the publishers'
pricing of electronic subscriptions should be investigated: why
is it that some publishers can offer electronic access for an
additional% premium of the printed subscription whilst others
insist on pricing according to either the Life Sciences faculty
FTE count (American Society for Microbiology) or even total university
FTE for a scientific journal (Science). Online access to Publisher
A (see Appendix, Section 8) titles are based upon FTE count of
Science faculty and Medical Faculty although UEA Medical faculty
has informed us that they do not require access to these specific
titles. Furthermore, the publishers would appear to be inconsistently
applying their FTE criteria to different institutions as revealed
by discussions on the price increases by Nature Publishing Group
for the EMBO journal in 2004 on the lis-e-journals jiscmail
list, (January 2004 archives, www.jiscmail.ac.uk). (This list
is a very useful place to see the kind of problems currently being
faced by academic libraries).
3.3 We hope that this inquiry will conduct
a thorough and detailed analysis of the economics of academic
publishing to establish the impact of the various cost elements,
and to identify cross-subsidies. In particular an examination
of the situation of small/specialist academic publishers would
3.4 Many publishers are still failing to
guarantee perpetual access to online archives covering the active
years of a subscription, so that cancelling an online journal
subscription brings the risk of losing the archive. As a result
libraries are often trying to maintain both printed and electronic
subscriptions of their major journals which often means paying
for both. So the advent of electronic publishing is thereby significantly
increasing the pressure on already limited periodical budgets.
Those publishers that do permit free online access to papers after
an embargo period of 6-12 months are to be applauded and governments,
to the extent that they are able, should persuade all publishers
to follow this practice.
3.5 In many cases the "big deal schemes"
do not allow much selectivity in journal coverage. They contain
high ranking journals mixed with a significant number of less
popular journals that do not necessarily meet the requirements
of the research and teaching of all universities, but libraries
are forced to accept these deals in order to gain electronic access
to the higher impact journals. As a result there is less money
remaining to subscribe to equally important individually published
journals, with the effect that libraries subscribe to fewer independent/society
published journals that are unable to compete with these big deals.
3.6 The pricing of bundled electronic journal
packages is often based on past print subscription expenditure
and forbids any print subscription cancellations within the duration
of the agreement, (eg Publisher Bsee Appendix, Section
8). This model is not financially sustainable in academic libraries
and does not allow libraries to adjust their collections to reflect
changing research subject emphasis. Sometimes the annual price
increase for a bundled deal seems to be good value, but then when
the prices of the print (which cannot be cancelled) are studied,
you see the costs have greatly increased. These can be more "hidden
costs" because they apply to individual titles from that
publisher, renewed automatically every year. Publishers should
be encouraged to make the pricing of bundled electronic packages
independent from an institution's print subscription expenditure.
3.7 Some bundled deals also have a "sting"
when they end, especially if they have been a Consortium deal
and have now pulled out. We are concerned that this might happen
with Publisher C (see Appendix, Section 8) (not printed)
as no new Nesli2 (JISC) consortium deal has been announced yet.
3.8 The other point about bundled deals
is that large publishers initially set prices for bundled deals
at affordable levels to match what the institutions can pay. For
example, the journal package from Publisher D (see Appendix,
Section 8) was originally based on recognition that not all
the content would be relevant but that the bundle would have some
added value. Most institutions were prepared to pay an additional
amount for this service, so both publisher and institutions benefited.
Now that loyalty has been built up to the service, the publisher
wants to justify a much higher increase in the prices by saying
that the "added value" should now be paid for to reflect
the usage. The proposed increases for 2003/4 for the nesli2 consortium
deal were only lowered after lobbying from university librarians,
but the "new model" itself, which seems to be based
on getting as much profit as possible, is still intact. The rate
of increase per year, if it was to continue in future years, seems
to be as high as 20% per annum for access to the Full Collection.
This publisher is "muddying the waters" by presenting
other options apart from the full collection, but you will notice
that the price differences between there are comparatively small.
We would urge the committee to discuss this with JISC nesli2 and
with Content Complete, the negotiating agent, as this is one of
the most difficult deals to resolve.
3.9 For an objective view on the costs and
benefits of bundled deals, we would urge the committee to read
this report: Carl T. Bergstrom and Theodore C. Bergstrom (2004)
"The costs and benefits of library site licenses to academic
journals" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Vol.101, no. 3, pp. 897-902.
3.10 Educational institutions have many
active research collaborations with neighbouring affiliated institutes/research
centers/hospitals and there is a need to enable equal access to
research publications for all academic scientists involved in
a collaborative project wherever they are based. The advent of
online publishing for scientific journals and the "access
limits" on the current electronic journal deals of many publishers
are prohibitively restrictive: "walk-in access" or provision
of articles by interlending may be disallowed; affiliated research
council funded institutes/NHS hospitals are often regarded as
separate non-academic sites and are only granted online access
under different licensing terms at pricing above academia. Not
only is the University of East Anglia restricted in giving access
to its neighbouring research/professional/educational concerns,
but also in our regional role as a major source for detailed scientific
information/education to the public. This goes against the government's
desire to make science and its workings more open, available and
transparent to the public. Hardcopy allowed equal access (provided
you could understand it), online presupposes privileged access.
3.11 A policy that is significantly impacting
on the provision of scientific journals is the addition of VAT
to all electronic publications and the government is urged to
investigate this situation. Many publishers will offer an online
subscription at 85-95% of the print subscription, and a combined
subscription at 115% to all institutes worldwide. But once the
VAT is added on for UK customers the cost of the online only subscription
is no saving over the printed subscription, and does not necessarily
guarantee an archive unlike a printed subscription. UK academic
libraries are effectively being charged more than their US collaborators
to access the same information. The VAT problem also exacerbates
the impact of any pricing arrangements agreed between publishers
and their advisory groups in the US, which are often wholly unsuitable
for the UK. For example, the New England Journal of Medicine's
bandings for academic library institutional subscriptions from
2004 hits UK academic libraries particularly hard. We had to cancel
our electronic subscription as a result.
4. What action should Government, academic
institutions and publishers be taking to promote a competitive
market in scientific publications?
4.1 Much of the content of scientific journals
is as the result of publicly funded research. Government policy
is that the results of this research should remain in the public
domain. Currently publication of publicly funded research is largely
through inclusion in scientific journals which are created by
publishers in the commercial sector. This approach creates the
tensions described in section 3 above.
4.2 It would be possible to resolve these
issues, in part, if a different mechanism existed for ensuring
that the results of publicly funded research are in the public
domain. Research councils and other publicly-funded bodies could
stipulate that all research they fund is published in "free-to-view
4.3 There is a global HEI-based research
community, and a global solution to scientific publication is
required. The Government should use its influence to raise this
issue, particularly with the United States and within the European
Union, with the aim of making this approach an internationally
4.4 Publishing in prestigious scientific
journals is particularly important for the academic community
as the refereeing process applied by editorial boards potentially
feeds into the assessment of research quality within Institutional
Audits/Research Assessment Exercises. The Government should re-emphasize
to academics that these audits/RAE will assess the quality of
their research articles rather than the journals in which they
4.5 Even if the approaches noted above were
adopted, there will continue to be a close relationship between
scientific research and scientific publishing. If the full benefits
of scientific research are to be available to UK industry, it
would be in the public interest for the Government to set up an
effective Code of Practice and Industry Watchdog to monitor and
regulate the academic publishing market.
4.6 Open-access journals, (eg BioMed Central-
where the author pays to submit an article and then it is freely
posted on the internet), and the increasing popularity of self-archiving,
(where authors mount their own articles on their own webpages
or in their institute's eprint repository), are producing healthy
competition to the established publishers of the traditional science
journals. Already several major commercial journals (eg Nature)
have decided to alter their policy and allow authors to mount
copies of their own articles in pdf form on their own website.
With increasing free access to research articles there will be
a shift away from the dependency upon access to traditional scientific
4.7 To foster this emerging competitive
market in scientific publishing, and to promote the wider dissemination
of scientific research, the Research Councils and other grant-awarding
bodies should stipulate that all research they fund is to be published
in open-access journals. They should promote this by supporting
requests within grant applications for funds to cover the costs
of publishing in "author-pays" model journals. Several
international bodies have already adopted this policy, eg Wellcome
4.8 Similarly all academic publishers should
be encouraged to allow authors to retain copyright of their research
articles so that self-archiving is permissible.
4.9 Academic publishers should be encouraged
to move to a dual publishing mode: allowing authors either to
have their work published free of charge, "reader pays",
(in the traditional model), or as an author-funded Open Access
paper, (see Company of Biologists Open Access initiative). If
publishers do not offer these two options, we recommend that pay-per-view
option is always made available for non-subscribers, with rates
that are standardized and affordable. Pay-per-view services should
be VAT free.
4.10 Academia should adopt a policy of open-access
publishing of their research by recognizing and rewarding researchers
that use this route of publication. Easy access to an eprint repository-
either institutional- or nationally-based should be established
to aid this. Funding support for the establishment and operation
of e-repositories should be provided following the experiences
of the SHERPA (Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation
and Access) project. If institutional eprint repositories are
adopted it must be ensured that these conform to the Open Archives
Initiative protocol so that a uniform format is maintained to
allow cross-search ability between sites.
4.11 The government should consider making
all electronic information resources VAT zero-rated so that the
current differential pricing faced by UK academic institutions
is removed. We recommend that electronic publishing is brought
in line with print, where all parts of the publishing process
are VAT-free, not just the cover price. This would reduce production
costs, and might aid small independent publishers in particular.
The government should also recognize that the resource costs of
electronic dissemination are less than those of paper distribution
and it is, therefore, perverse to tax the more environmentally-friendly
medium of publication.
5. What are the consequences of increasing
numbers of open-access journals, for example for the operation
of the Research Assessment Exercise and other selection processes?
Should the Government support such a trend and, if so, how?
5.1 An increase in the number of open-access
journals and e-print repositories is a trend that the Government
should welcome and support as it will make public funded research
more easily and freely accessible to students, developing countries
and the public.
5.2 A shift to open-access publishing as
a form of scholarly communication will not happen overnight. The
government therefore needs to encourage scientists to move to
open access journals by ensuring that all institutional audits/Research
Assessment Exercises clearly state that academics will be judged
on the quality of their individual articles rather than the journals
in which they appear so that the fear of publishing in open access
journals, (that currently have lower impact ratings as they are
not yet established in the scientific community), are overcome.
6. How effectively are the Legal Deposit
Libraries making available non-print scientific publications to
the research community, and what steps should they be taking in
6.1 Legal Deposit Libraries (LDLs) have
a vital role in working with publishers and other content providers/creators
to develop a sustainable strategy for the acquisition and preservation
of non-print materials. At the same time, there is a need to ensure
that the BLDSC can provide the UK academic community with easy
access to a UK e-resource collection. The LDL collection must
be available to the BLDSC for interlending use as/when required.
The LDLs and the BLDSC need to work together to provide a rationally
organized, easily accessible e-resource of academic information.
They should adopt a co-coordinating role, for example in mediating
online access for the output of small publishers, plugging gaps
in e-dissemination and providing a centrally stored e-repository
of last resort. LDLs should be legally empowered to step in and
maintain electronic access if a service goes out of business,
pending resolution of such a crisis, (such as the Open Access
agreement between the National Library of the Netherlands and
7. What impact will trends in academic journal
publishing have on the risks of scientific fraud and malpractice?
The risk of scientific fraud and malpractice
should not be affected by the advent of open-access journals and
institutional eprint repositories as long as peer-review continues
to be the regulator of these modes of dissemination.