Memorandum from the Canadian Association
of Research Libraries (CARL)
The following evidence is provided primarily
in support of the submission of the Society of College, National
and University Libraries (SCONUL) and the Consortium of Research
Libraries (CURL); and the United Kingdom scientific research community
that they represent.
CARL is the leadership organisation for the
Canadian research library community. The Association's members
are the 27 major academic research libraries across Canada plus
the National Library of Canada, and the Canada Institute for Scientific
and Technical Information (CISTI). CARL members are the backbone
of Canada's intellectual holdings in all disciplines, with an
annual expenditure of over half a billion dollars ($537,339,000),
monograph holdings of over 75 million items and nearly half a
1.1. The Science, Technology and Medical
(STM) journal publishing industry is international in scope and
represented a market of over US$7 billion
in 2001. As such, the market conditions for scientific and technical
publishing affect consumers of around the world.
1.2. Over the past two decades, there has
been a significant increase of concentration in the academic publishing
industry through purchases and mergers, in particular in the area
of Science, Technology and Medicine (STM).
1.3. In 2003, at least four major commercial
publishers of STM journals have been acquired by competitors,
in addition to numerous mergers among smaller entities.
Taylor & Francis purchased the
business and publishing assets of the Dekker group of companies.
Cinven and Candover acquired Kluwer
In August 2003, Candover and Cinven
(owners of Kluwer) received approval from the US Department of
Justice and the European Commission for the acquisition of BertelsmannSpringer.
In the spring of 2004, the merger
of Springer Science+Business Media and Kluwer Academic Publishers,
owned by Cinven and Candover, will commence. This will create
the second largest STM publisher worldwide.
1.4 Although the Reed Elsevier and Wolters
Kluwer merger was abandoned after confronting antitrust scrutiny,
most mergers have faced little scrutiny and market consolidation
has continued at a rapid pace in recent years.
2. Recommendations to the Committee
2.1 The long-term consequences of the current
pricing policies of Science, Technology, and Medicine journal
publishers are increases in the prices of journal publications
overall; a reduction in choice regarding which journal titles
one may subscribe to; and ultimately a reduction in access to
journal publications by the international research community.
Since further concentration of the commercial scientific publishing
sector will entrench the monopoly power of a few publishers, CARL
recommends that future significant merger proposals be investigated
by the UK Competition Commission, taking into account the unique
features of the journals market.
2.2 CARL supports the position of the UK
Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL) and the Society
of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) that both
self-archiving and open-access journals should be supported. Given
the importance of the continued existence of the journal in establishing
a hierarchy of publication and bringing together related articles,
we expect that open-access journals will continue to grow and
flourish: it is essential for research funding to support this
concept. Publishers are conscious of the commercial risks in moving
to open access, and smaller publishers, operating on very limited
margins, tend to be the most cautious. A declaration of intent
from research funding bodies that author fees for open-access
journals will be paid out of research grants would encourage existing
journals to `convert' to open access. This would be a desirable
outcome that would encourage adoption of this new model.
2.3 CARL recommends that governments support
the development of a new, more sustainable system for scholarly
communicationa global system of scholarly research that
will exist chiefly for faculty, their students, and their colleagues
in the worldwide scholarly community, rather than for the benefit
of commercial publishers and their shareholders. To this end we
recommend, with respect that the UK invest in emerging methods
for the dissemination of research results such as the current
research projects being funded by JISC.
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 The increased concentration in the publishing
market has been accompanied by a significant escalation in the
price of scientific journals. Research on the impact of mergers
of STM publishers over the last 10 years has found a significant
correlation between company size and journal pricing.
These increases were in addition to the general trend of rising
subscription prices in the market.
3.2 Libraries' buying power has been eroded
because of publisher mergers. The prices of STM journals have
been rising more rapidly than library budgets. This has resulted
in an erosion of libraries' purchasing power. In Canada, as in
many other countries, journal budgets have remained fairly static
compared with dramatically rising journal prices. From 1986 to
2002, journals expenditures in Canadian libraries increased by
233% from $24 million in 1986 to $80 million in 2002. Journal
unit costs rose 175% from $127.66 to 350.34. 
Canadian research libraries were spending over three times as
much on journals in 2002 as they were in 1986. 
3.3 "Big deal" agreements with
publishers have counteracted the steep price increases of journals
to some degree. The big deal schemes involve the aggregation of
online journals that are packaged as a `one-price one-size fits
all' package. In the big deal, libraries agree to buy electronic
access to a predefined group of journals for a price based on
current payments to that publisher, plus some increment.
3.4 Big deal agreements offer short-term
benefits for libraries and users because they expand access to
content for users allowing libraries to build collections that
are more comprehensive.
3.5 Big deal agreements also have significant
drawbacks for libraries and researchers. These agreements "bundle"
content so that individual journal subscriptions can no longer
be cancelled in their electronic format. 
Big deal agreements give the largest commercial publishers extraordinary
power to control the terms and conditions of the academic journal
market. Thus, libraries lose the opportunity to shape the content
or quality of journal literature through the selection process.
3.6 Bid deal packages may assist large publishers
in creating an even more concentrated market. Small publishers
with only a few journals cannot hope to compete on their own in
the consortia market and will either bought up by larger publishers,
or be unable to stay in business.
3.7 Big deal schemes could also mean even
greater price increases in journal literature in the end. The
largest publishers will not only have greater market power to
dictate prices, but they will also have more control over contractual
terms and conditions. Publishers may prohibit libraries from cancelling
(even duplicate) subscriptions as a prerequisite for remaining
in the big deal; and they provide incentives for libraries to
contract for the aggregation for three to five years.
3.8 Because of such concerns, several academic
libraries in the US and elsewhere have refused to renew their
"big deal" agreements with publishers. Cornell University,
Harvard University and the Triangle Research Libraries Network
(Duke, North Carolina State and North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
all opted against renewing their subscription for a bundled package
with Reed Elsevier in 2004. Library administrators cite an unsustainable
pricing model, prohibitive selection options, and the financial
impact on the library's ability to purchase other journals as
reasons for its decision. 
3.9 In Canada, some university libraries
are also expressing misgivings about entering into these types
of "bundled" agreements.
4. What action should government, academic
institutions and publishers be taking to promote a competitive
market in scientific publications?
4.1 CARL encourages the UK Government to
continue funding research into new modes of scholarly communication
such as that currently being done by the Joint Information Systems
Committee (JISC) eg the Focus on Access to Institutional Resources
Programme and the Digital Library Infrastructure Programme. In
Canada, a research project funded jointly by the Canadian Association
of Research Libraries and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council (SSHRC) is currently identifying and prioritizing a research
agenda for the dissemination of scholarly research in Canada.
(www.kdstudy.ca). The results of this study will pave the way
for similar research, international in scope, to be conducted
4.2 CARL recommends that governments, academic
institutions and publishers support the development of a new,
more sustainable system for scholarly communicationa global
system of scholarly research that will exist chiefly for the public
good, rather than for the benefit of commercial publishers and
their shareholders. Two options for the disseminating of scholarly
research offer promise:
4.2.1 Open Access Journals, which use funding
models that do not charge readers or their institutions for access.
These journals mirror traditional journals in that they report
the results of research or overviews of research results, and
they employ quality control processes such as peer-reviewbut
are freely accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. According
to the "Directory of Open Access Journals" (www.doaj.org),
there are now more than 730 open access journals in a variety
of scholarly disciplines. In Canada, journals such as the Canadian
Medical Association Journal (www.cmaj.ca) have opted to provide
free access to their articles over the Internet as a strategy
to ensure that Canadian research is accessible to all.
4.2.2 Governments and academic institutions
are encouraged to support open access by funding initial subscriptions
to open access journals. In this context CARL supports JISC's
subscription to BioMed Central on behalf of 180 UK research institutions.
4.2.3 Self-Archiving Initiatives involve
the self-deposit of digital scholarship in a publicly accessible
database. Self-archiving initiatives may take two forms: e-prints
servers, that collect and share pre-prints in various disciplines;
and institutional repositories, that collect and share a variety
of scholarly material from a single or multiple universities.
These initiatives provide great exposure to authors' research.
4.2.4 Academic institutions are encouraged
to set up either their own repositories and to actively encourage
faculty to deposit articles. This process would be greatly facilitated
if project funding from the Research Councils and similar bodies
included a condition that publicly-funded research should be publicly
available. In Canada, research universities have begun implementing
institutional repositories as part of a CARL Institutional Repositories
4.3 Government and academic institutions
should continue to support reasonably priced journals based on
their merits, such as those that are published by learned societies
and university presses, and open access journals. These journals,
many of which are listed on the SPARC website (Scholarly Publishing
and Academic Resources Coalition) or in the Directory of Open
Access Journals (DOAJ), represent an important alternative to
existing high-priced titles in the fields of science, technology
4.4 Academic Institutions should examine
the implications of entering "big deal" aggregate licensing
of electronic journals.
4.5 More publishers should consider amending
their copyright agreements with authors to allow authors to submit
pre-prints and post-prints into open access archives, such as
e-prints servers and institutional repositories. Current figures
published by the Romeo project (www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ls/disresearch/romeo)
state that over 54% of academic publishers now support author
self-archiving of their articles in e-prints servers or institutional
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 CARL is not familiar enough with the
UK Research Assessment Exercise to offer an opinion or to make
a valid comparison with the Canadian experience.
5.2 The momentum for open access expressed
in the form of self-archiving, and the creation of open access
journals has grown significantly over the past years. CARL was
one of the original signatories of the Budapest Open Access Initiative
(February 2002). 
Since then, the Berlin Declaration in support of Open Access
was signed in October 2003 by the Max Planck Society and other
leading research funding organizations in Germany, France, and
other European countries. In the UK, the Wellcome Trust issued
a position statement in support of open access in September 2003
stating that it "will meet the cost of publication charges
including those for online-only journals for Trust-funded research".
The UK Government may wish to consider a similar declaration uniting
the UK funding agencies behind the open access approach.
5.3 The advantages of moving towards a system
of more open access to scholarly publications are great:
5.3.1 Open access journals enhance the transfer
of research knowledge into society. The benefits of research are
principally derived from access to, and the practical application
research results. Current journal subscription models tend to
limit access to the broad spectrum of scholarly research to those
researchers whose institutions can afford to pay for such access.
Open access bypasses this by making research available to all,
or at least to those who can afford electronic access. For less
wealthy institutions and for developing countries this is seen
as a matter of social justice.
5.3.2 It is argued that Open access journals
may act as a brake to the increasing prices of competitor journals
published by the major commercial publishers.
5.3.3 Open access alternatives allow authors
more control over the distribution of their work. Copyright agreements
often require authors to transfer all of their copyrights exclusively
to the publisher, thereby losing their control of subsequent public
distribution of their work. Open Access publishers generally do
not invoke copyright to restrict access to and use of the material
they publish. Authors retain the copyright of their articles when
they publish in open access journals. This allows an author to
re-publish where and when he or she may think fit. Open access
publications are created with the goal of timely publication through
the deposit of preprints into e-print servers and local institutional
5.3.5 Publishing in open access alternatives
should result in greater impact of research. Studies have shown
that even the slightest access barriers to academic literature
have a negative impact on usage. 
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 CARL has no direct comment to offer
but supports CURL and SCONUL in welcoming the recent Legal Deposit
and urging the Government "to provide sufficient resources
to ensure a speedy and comprehensive implementation of the provisions
relating to deposit of electronic publications, including appropriate
6.2 CARL emphasises the urgent need for
governments to address the issue of systematic long-term preservation
of works in digital formats; and to support the work especially
of national libraries in this regard.
7. What impact will trends in academic journal
publishing have on the risks of scientific fraud and malpractice?
7.1 Scientific fraud and malpractice are
as possible in the print world as in the realm of electronic publication
of academic journals. The propagation of fraud or errors may be
on a much larger scale, thanks to instantaneous and widespread
dissemination through electronic publication. However, for the
same reason, the greater diffusion should result in greater peer
scrutiny and thus the unmasking of errors, whether wilful or not.
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