Economics of open-access publishing

October 22, 2011

[This post is mostly a rehash of a comment I made on the last one, but I guess more people see posts than comments.  Oh, and I will try to post something about sauropod vertebrae Real Soon Now.]

Last time out, Michael Richmond suggested that one way towards an open-access world is pointing out to decision makers that open-access publishing/reading is cheaper, and commented “that approach will only work if the open-access journals are much less expensive. Are they?”

As I’ve noted elsewhere, the difficulty in shifting to author-pays open access is that universities’ libraries and research departments are funded separately, so that when the extra costs to the latter result in savings for the former, it doesn’t look like a good deal (in the short term) for the research departments.

But let’s ignore that for now, and imagine a perfect economy where universities could shift money from the subscriptions that libraries buy to the publication fees that departments pay. If we could reassign all that money, would the universities spend more or less in total?

The answer may surprise you. A recent article on the Poetic Economics blog shows that Elsevier’s 2009 profits of more than $2.075 billion, divided by the world’s total scholarly output of 1.5 million articles per year, comes out to $1383 per article.

Now as it happens, PLoS ONE’s publication fee is $1350 — $33 less.

So think about it. That means the money that Elsevier alone takes out of academia — not its turnover but its profits, which are given to shareholders who have nothing to do with scholarly work — is enough to fund every research article in every field in the world as open access at PLoS ONE’s rate.

(And remember that PLoS is now making a profit at that rate — no longer living off the grants that helped to get it started.  At a rate of $1350 per article, it’s not just surviving but flourishing, so we know that that’s a reasonable commercial rate to charge for handling an open-access academic article with no limits on length or on number of high-resolution colour figures.)

Isn’t that … astonishing?

Isn’t it … scandalous?

ONE COMMERCIAL PUBLISHER is taking out of the system enough money for everything to be open to the world.  Everything.  In the world.  Open to the world.

if we all stopped buying Elsevier journals — just Elsevier, no other publisher — and if we threw away the proportion of the savings that Elsevier spends on costs, including salaries; then the profits alone would have been sufficient to fund every single research article in the world to be published in PLoS ONE — freely available to the whole world.

What would this mean?  Dentists would be able to keep up with the relevant literature.  Small businesses would be able to make plans with full information.  The Climate Code Foundation would have a sounder and more up-to-date scientific basis for its work.  Patient groups would be able to understand their diseases and give informed consent for treatment.  Medical charities, amateur palaeontologists, ornithologists and so many more would have access to the information they need.  Researchers in third-world countries could have the information they need to cope with life-threatening issues of health, food and water.

We can have all that for our $2.075 billion per year.  Or we can keep giving it to Elsevier’s shareholders.  Giving it, remember: not buying something with it. Don’t forget, this is not the money that Elsevier absorbs as its costs: salaries, rent, connectivity, what have you.  This is their profit.  It’s pure profit.  This is the money that is taken out of the system.

So, yes, open access is cheaper. Stupidly cheaper. Absurdly, ridiculously, appallingly cheaper.

Update (later the same day)

In an article posted just an hour ago, Cambridge research-group head Peter Murray-Rust comes right out and says it: closed access means people die.  That’s the bottom line.  Follow his syllogism:

  • Information is a key component of health-care
  • Closed access publishers make money by restricting access to information.
  • The worse the medicine and healthcare, etc. the more people die.

Are any of those statements false?  And if not, is there any way to construe them that doesn’t lead by simply logic to the conclusion that closed access means people die?  I don’t see one.

CORRECTION (Monday 24th)

Please see Jeff Hecht’s comment below for an important correction: Elsevier’s annual profits are “only” 60% of the figure originally cited.  Which means we’d need to throw in Springer’s profits, too, in order to open-access everything.  My bad — thanks for the correction, Jeff.

 

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51 Responses to “Economics of open-access publishing”

  1. Odontodactylus Says:

    It is absolutely disgusting. The articles on this subject are really illuminating, and it’s encouraging to know that some people care about it this much. All too often people are either indifferent or see open access as naive idealism, when looking into it a bit shows it to be very economically viable as well as morally preferable.

  2. 220mya Says:

    Institutional libraries are big supporters of open access, because even if they paid for every open access article published by authors from their institution, it would still be cheaper than the total cost of their institutional subscriptions.

    As such, many libraries (at least larger US universities) have put together funds specifically to help pay the open access fee for authors from their institution who do not have other sources of funding.

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Randy, I didn’t know that was happening already. Very encouraging (and very farsighted of the libraries).

    A bit of poking around shows that this page describes several such initiatives — some already up and running such as those of Nottingham University and the University of Calgary; others planning how to make that step, including Yale. (This was posted in June 2008, so things are presumably more advanced now.)


  4. I think you misconstrue somewhat the content of Peter Murray-Rust’s statement, which is about medical research. Should medical knowledge be open access? Yes! But there’s a constraint on what is quite often privately or institutionally-held material, such that paleontological and geological, archaeological, zoological is often constrained by issues of ownership, which inevitably leads to and is derived from (circularly) the nature of competitive institutions.

    Consider then, that in the spirit of this, if you agree, your entire academic product (including in-school work) should be open access, and so too should everyone else’s. Open access in this case is not restricted to publishing.

    Incidentally, I agree with what you say otherwise and would support PLoS ONE over any other journal (PLoS over any other publisher), but I do not live in a conflict and competition-free economy, either. Someone has to fund it, and like Atlas someone has to bear the work for others. Communalism/socialism in an economic society where we still self-attribute and aggrandize? I think this is a pipe-dream.


  5. The “closed access means people die” is much the same discussion as is covered in Tony Mobily’s “Patents Kill” – http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/editorial_09 – and the SFLC publication “Killed by Code: Software Transparency in Implantable Medical Devices” – http://softwarefreedom.org/resources/2010/transparent-medical-devices.html .


  6. […] is enough to fund every research article in every field in the world as open access at PLoS ONE’s rate. A must read, here too. Via Hacker News. […]


  7. […] [This post is mostly a rehash of a comment I made on the last one, but I guess more people see posts than comments. Oh, and I will try to post something about sauropod vertebrae Real Soon Now.] –. Last time out, Michael [Read More] […]


  8. […] [toread] Economics of open-access publishing « Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week – […]

  9. Jeff Hecht Says:

    The Poetic economics blog evidently mis-read Elsevier’s financial statement. Elsevier is part of Reed-Elsevier, which also includes Lexis-Nexis (not involved in scholarly publishing; it’s a database of legal and general publications), Reed Exhibitions and Reed Business Information. The 2009 adjusted operating profit for Elsevier is 693 million pounds sterling, or about $1096 million dollars. That’s still a LOT of money, but is only about 60% as much as you quote, so if you divide the profit by 1.5 million scholarly articles, you get $730. So the numbers don’t work out as neatly as you thought, that doesn’t invalidate your basic point.

    (Full disclosure – I am a consultant and write for New Scientist, which is part of Reed Business Information, but am not an employee.)

    [Mike says: thanks for this correction, Jeff. I have added it to the article. Do you have figures for the profits of other academic publishers?]

  10. Mike Taylor Says:

    Jaime, I really try to be patient with you, but when I see comments like:

    I do not live in a conflict and competition-free economy, either. Someone has to fund it, and like Atlas someone has to bear the work for others. Communalism/socialism in an economic society where we still self-attribute and aggrandize? I think this is a pipe-dream.

    I can only conclude that you didn’t actually read the post at all. Please — if you’re going to comment, have the decency to comment on what’s actually been said, not on a fiction.

  11. Jacob Says:

    The incentives are wrong if authors pay to be published. It’s only a matter of time before quality degrades.

  12. Mike Taylor Says:

    Not really, Jakub: this has been the case in a academic publishing for a long time: many publishers require page charges from their authors. The difference with open-access publishing is that they don’t then also require payment from the readers.


  13. To clarify the discussion of:
    “closed access means people die”
    This applies to ALL scientific publication.

    If you are an engineer and want to be sure that a new material is safe for a medical device you need to read the literature

    If you are a policy wonk and worried about epidemics you need to know the mathematics of epidemiology (maybe in a stats or maths journal)

    If you are trying to improve the drainage in tropical countfries you need to know about the sociology of cooperation and conflict over water

    If you are worried about obesity you need to know about the psychology of human behaviour.

    and that’s just medical

    I was in two earthquakes last week (in berkeley). Small ones. But I would like to know that everyone involved in prevention and warning could read the appropriate literature.

    There is NO discipline which can be regarded as irrelevant to the benefit of humankind

    P.

  14. David Marjanović Says:

    “you can’t even eat as much as you want to barf”

  15. Mike Taylor Says:

    I don’t understand, David. Please explain.

  16. David Says:

    Open access was technically not possible until recently. If the numbers are correct there is no need to worry, paid-for journals will disapear into oblivition by themselves with open-access only surviving.

  17. Anne Weil Says:

    Are you looking at net profit or gross revenue? It might in this case be more useful to look at revenue (profit + costs) because open-source journals without a print edition will have lower costs.

    Anne

  18. Mike Taylor Says:

    Anne, this is pure profit we’re talking about. Pure, sweet, skim-it-off-the-top profit.

    So, to put it another way: if Elsevier were willing (and legally able) to stiff their shareholders, they would be able to continue their current business with their current costs and the current pricing levels, and reinvest their profit in open-accessing 60% of the world’s scientific output each year.


  19. […] economics of science blogging. Economics of open-source publishing Major study on schizophrenia, bipolar 25 Dead From Melons: FDA Points to Packing Facility (my […]

  20. Dave Says:

    Mike,

    I’m not so sure it is in the best interests of science to have all information open-access. Won’t this lead to a dilution of the “brand”–that is, the authority of the gatekeepers?

    Any doctor will tell you that free information (as found on the Internet in general, and Wikipedia in particular) is the bane of their professional life. Every patient now comes armed with a load of distorted gossip, false advertising, and half-baked theories on every possible drug and therapy, as well as many that do not exist.

    The reason why people with MDs and PhDs get paid is not because they know how to read restricted-access research studies–it’s because they have an accumulated expertise and trained judgment that enables them to evaluate scientific questions thoroughly and make an informed decision. Open access to scientific studies will decrease their social value to the equivalent of astrologers and street-corner drug dealers.

  21. Mike Taylor Says:

    Dave. It took me a long while to figure out whether your comment was intended as satire or whether you were serious. I am still not truly sure, but I’m going to treat it as serious. Yes, universal open access will lead to “dilution of the “brand”–that is, the authority of the gatekeepers” — and that is absolutely a good thing. No-one is served by the existence of a special class of people who are allowed access to publicly funded research, and gatekeepers (like gates) are an unequivocal evil.

    The authority of published research comes not from the brand of the gatekeeper who restricts access to it, but from the quality of the work itself, and from the assessment made of that work by peer-reviewers. If information found on Wikipedia is worthless (a contention, by the way, that I strongly disagree with, but let it pass) then that worthlessness certainly does not come from its free availability! It comes, if at all, from the non-peer-reviewed nature of the articles.

    The only truly worthless information is information that you can’t access. Which, for 99% of the population, is nearly all published research.

    To review: in the current state of affairs, the man on the street has access to Wikipedia, which you claim is worthless — a claim that, for now, we are accepting. The worthwhile, authoritative information is in the peer-reviewed journal articles. And you think that people are best served by … preventing them from accessing this information? Did I get that right? Is that really what you said? Now that I write it down clearly, I can’t quite believe that’s what you meant. But if not, then what?

    And finally … a doctor whose value is reduced to that of an astrologer by my having access to the same peer-reviewed research as him? I don’t want to be treated by that doctor, thank you. I prefer a doctor whose social status isn’t contingent on knowing secrets that are concealed from you and me.


  22. […] we got distracted and posted a whole sequence of articles on Open Access ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]).  If that seems like an intimidating sequence to catch up, you should just read the last one, […]


  23. […] for scholarly journals Published on October 25, 2011 in Business. 0 Comments Economics of open-access publishing makes the extraordinary claim that the profits (note: not turnover) of the publishing arms of two […]

  24. wycx Says:

    Until the impact factors and prestige/credibility of open access journals are as high as their closed equivalents AND university administrators and funding agencies stop quantifying academic performance via impact factors, I do not see much changing.

    Libraries need to spend lots of time convincing university HR departments and funding agencies of the benefits of open access.

  25. Patty R. Says:

    I heard once about 5 years ago that the University of Calgary libraries paid $600,000 per year for their on-line subscriptions (I was talking to a librarian who works there). The former librarian at the Tyrrell looked into getting on-line access to 6 paleo journals and it was going to be $12,000 per year. I’m not surprised by the amount of money that the publishers make.

  26. Dave Says:

    Mike,

    I understand your ambivalence about responding to, or even allowing, comments that question your underlying assumptions. I am both serious and not-serious.

    I am serious, insofar as it is a serious concern for anyone who is paid for publishing, teaching, consulting, or medical treatment. Perhaps it seems trivial to you, but I assure you it is not.

    The democratization of information causes difficulty for anyone who relies on a priori trust from a client or student. They come in pretending to be subject-matter experts on everything, and consequently they devalue any “expert” opinion. The result is a generalized disdain for good science, best practices, peer-reviewed consensus opinion, and any other form of knowledge that cannot be acquired in 30 seconds.

    1. “No-one is served by the existence of a special class of people who are allowed access to publicly funded research”–This is obviously false. It serves anyone who relies on their ability to distill expert knowledge. On the other hand, it does not serve people who don’t want to pay an expert, and who think they can figure it out for themselves. I think you are confusing economic reality and social idealism.

    2. “The authority of published research comes not from the brand of the gatekeeper who restricts access to it, but from the quality of the work itself, and from the assessment made of that work by peer-reviewers.”–Restricted access is a sign of authority, not the cause of it.

    3. I do not consider Wikipedia to be worthless. The question is not whether it is “worthless”–the question is, is it objectively authoritative? No, it is not. Is it trusted by many people more than objectively authoritative sources, due to its convenience and readability? I would say, yes it is.

    4. “The only truly worthless information is information that you can’t access.” Here, you define “worthless” as “not accessible.” However, “worthless” usually means “not valuable,” as in something so common that it has no special value. How is the average person to distinguish value–shall we introduce a new gatekeeper in the form of Google? Or, perhaps, Wikipedia?

    5. “And you think that people are best served by … preventing them from accessing this information?” No, I said that science would be best served. The objectives of institutionalized science are not identical with those of most people.

    6. “And finally … a doctor whose value is reduced to that of an astrologer by my having access to the same peer-reviewed research as him? I don’t want to be treated by that doctor, thank you. I prefer a doctor whose social status isn’t contingent on knowing secrets that are concealed from you and me.” I don’t think you understood my analogy. In that scenario, a doctor would be performing the same function as an astrologer, for the average person. You, on the other hand, are someone able to engage your doctor on a peer-to-peer basis, intellectually and socially. In fact, your doctor probably appreciates you saving him time by reading all the current literature on your disorders and summarizing it for him so he can treat you more efficiently. Suppose you were slightly less intelligent, less eloquent, or lower status? Would your doctor really appreciate you arguing with him for an hour about everything you read about on some quack Internet forum that has a veneer of authority?

    On the other hand, Mike, I am not serious in my criticism, insofar as I am a consumer of some knowledge that I do not want to pay for and that doesn’t receive institutional support. I advocate hacking, reinterpreting, doing original research, and reading anything that is free. In that sense, I totally support your purpose in doing this post. I am just questioning your assertion that open access is so obviously better for all of society that it should be unequivocally supported by everyone except the shareholders of large publishers.

  27. Mike Taylor Says:

    Quick one, Dave (and a proper reply to folllow): “I understand your ambivalence about responding to, or even allowing, comments that question your underlying assumptions”. Absolutely no. We NEVER delete comments for disagreeing with us. Never ever. In fact, it’s still the case that, 5600 comments into SV-POW!’s life, we have only ever deleted spam comments. If we disagree with someone, we explain why, we don’t silence them.

  28. Mike Taylor Says:

    OK, Dave. I am not going to spend the time to respond to each individual point you make, but these three are representative:

    3. I do not consider Wikipedia to be worthless. The question is not whether it is “worthless”–the question is, is it objectively authoritative? No, it is not. Is it trusted by many people more than objectively authoritative sources, due to its convenience and readability? I would say, yes it is.

    The obvious solution is to make the “objectively authoritative sources” (by which I assume you mean peer-reviewed papers) equally convenient to access. Yes, people trust Wikipedia, whatever its weaknesses, more than something they can’t see. That is hardly unreasonable. What would the alternative be, given the current state of affairs?

    4. “The only truly worthless information is information that you can’t access.” Here, you define “worthless” as “not accessible.” However, “worthless” usually means “not valuable,” as in something so common that it has no special value. How is the average person to distinguish value–shall we introduce a new gatekeeper in the form of Google? Or, perhaps, Wikipedia?

    I don’t define worthless as “not accessible”; it’s a fundamental fact that a thing I can’t access is worthless to me. Jeremy Clarkson’s Ferrari F355 has plenty of intrinsic value, but it’s worthless to me because I can’t access it. Fair enough: if I had access, he would lose access, and he has real reason not to want that to happen. But if I get access to a Cretaceous Research paper, everyone else who had access still has access. Value is created.

    As for your last question — why the obsession with gatekeepers? You seem to think that the difficulty of finding a copy of a paper somehow magically makes it more worthy or authoritative. Let’s be clear: this is flatly wrong; nonsensical, even. Whether I can download a given paper freely from PLoS or have to get a friend with institutional access to send it to me from Science Direct, its value is the same, and depends only on the scientific content and the clarity with which it is expressed. You’re not even confusing the medium with the message. You’re confusing impediments with the message. By that logic, papers written in ancient Hebrew would be more authoritative still, or papers with all the vowels removed.

    5. “And you think that people are best served by … preventing them from accessing this information?” No, I said that science would be best served. The objectives of institutionalized science are not identical with those of most people.

    Then they damned well should be! Talk about ivory towers! Here we are in a time of deep cuts in funding for all sorts of research; the very last thing academics should be telling the public who they expect to fund their research is “our objectives are different from yours”. Publicly funded research exists to benefit the public. When it doesn’t, the system is broken.

    Sorry to be so direct; but your position is too wrongheaded to be polite about.


  29. “Restricted access is a sign of authority, not the cause of it.”

    The librarian and the vertebrate paleontologist in me both threw up a little in their respective mouths.

    Support open access or at least scholarly publishing by publishing material to academic publishers (some are open access, some aren’t). There you have all the benefits of “authority” plus the added bonus of supporting something other than a for profit publishing house…while providing more momentum for university ejournals. Plenty of decent open source software to get started. Everything from distribution to peer-reviewers (Open Journal System is easy to use).

    I like what Jason Baird Jackson said about “getting out of the industry” by moving towards university presses and journals and away from for-profit ones. He outlined 5 simple steps. Some university presses are strong, open and have the added authority that some require.

    1) Choose not to submit scholarly journal articles or other works to publications owned by for-profit firms.
    2) Say no, when asked to undertake peer-review work on a book or article manuscript that has been submitted for publication by a for-profit publisher or a journal under the control of a commercial publisher.
    3) Do not seek or accept the editorship of a journal owned or under the control of a commercial publisher.
    4) Do not take on the role of series editor for a book series being published by a for-profit publisher.
    5) Turn down invitations to join the editorial boards of commercially published journals or book series.

    http://www.digitalculture.org/hacking-the-academy/hacking-scholarship/#scholarship-jackson

  30. mcfakename Says:

    I’ve worked with three different University bio labs and they Biblioscape and Endnote the hell out of articles and link them to the tens of thousands pdfs stored on external hard-drives because of the shifting nature of what their libraries can afford has limited them to this sort of info-banking behavior. If next month you are losing your subscription to some Scandinavian ornithology journal, and you work with pelagic birds, you better bet professors are going to put their interns to work banking the backlog. This is weeks and weeks of hours spent doing file management rather than science.

    Some IT person should co-opt some of the old Napster program and re-tool it to become on an campus, in-situ competitor of the academic journal system. When dovetailed with these personal pdf. libraries, a (albeit criminal) source of open access can be approximated.

  31. Erbloggtes Says:

    Thank you for those thoughts! Recently, I wrote something about scientific publishing (in German: Wissenschaftliches Verlagswesen. Zwei Geschäftsmodelle im Vergleich – Scientific Publishing Industry. Two Business Models Compared).
    I give an abstract in English to you: While George Monbiot criticized academic publishers some time ago for having big, very big profit margins by highpriceing their science journals (because every scientist needs the important journals in his field at any cost), I pointed to the different business model of publishers in the Geisteswissenschaften (Humanities), especially in Germany: In Humanities, books are still more important than journal articles (and print is more important than online). But those books don’t sell in high numbers, so the publishers want the authors to pay for the publishing of a book. The authors have to pay, due to the importance of books. (And the readers have to pay again: The high price of academic books in small print runs is widely known.) To print a dissertation in a well known publishing house often costs, say, 9000 Euro, without any colour figures. And if a department or institute wants to publish a book, they may sometimes pay far more than 10.000 Euro. I don’t know the profit margin of this kind of publishing, but I believe, most of the price, an author has to pay for being printed, is for getting the good name of the publishing house on the cover.
    While I see the differences between such publishing practices in Geisteswissenschaften and PLoS ONE, I am somewhat sceptical about author-pays. To me, it doesn’t seem fair, that you have to pay for giving the results of your scholarly work to the public.

  32. Mike Taylor Says:

    The prices for academic books do often seem obscene. In that connection, I’ve mentioned the Geological Society volume on the history of research into dinosaurs and other extinct saurians, which sells at £95 for 400 pages. In contrast, I made my dissertation available as print-on-demand at lulu.com. That is only 285 pages, but then they are A4 pages so overall its very similar in size to the Geol Soc volume, but it sells at … wait for it … £12.02. That’s in hardback, with a very nice colour cover. Admittedly they want another £3.99 for postage, bringing the total up to £16.01, but it’s still hard to see why the Geol Soc charges six times as much for their book.

    I find myself wondering this: if the editors of the Geol Soc volume had instead formatted their own PDF and posted it on lulu.com, would they have been able to sell that book for £12.02? And is the Geol Soc imprimatur really worth the extra £78.99?

  33. cparnot Says:

    Dave: the issue of patients talking back to their doctors would not be made worse by free access to scientific papers. The info these patients get comes from non peer-reviewed internet resources written for them, not from peer-reviewed scientific publications that are very specialized and can only be understood by other scientists in the field. These papers are very technical and dry. Just like my eyes will glaze over when reading a legal document.

    The people prevented from reading the papers are not the patients, they are the doctors (or at least a significant fraction of them), that’s the point. And more generally, a significant fraction of the scientists and researchers in various other fields. Open Access is about helping scientist advance science.

    Everything else is just the cherry on top.There are other benefits for potentially more citizen science, which would be nice too. It will be easier for non-scientist to check out how science is done. And yes, maybe some people will think they’re experts too, but they don’t need access to scientific papers for that, the reading material out there is already immensely vast (so adding a little bit of high-quality straight-from-science content can only help… a little).


  34. Is it good or bad to make scientific publications accessible for the public? How can anyone even ASK this?

    OK, let’s give this a try and check out how easily you can find fraudulent, misleading or just plain WRONG information on any health, climate or other topic on the web. Think of one, open up Google, off you go!

    There, it took you only seconds.

    How much hard science did you find to counter this BS?

    I thought so….. way too little!

    Question answered.


  35. […] a comment on an previous post, wycx articulated a position that sounds all too familiar: Until the impact factors and […]

  36. dmaas Says:

    occupy science!


  37. […] open access advocates and their blogs?) – pointed out that this calculation was incorrect, and that the actual figure was more like $730 per article. But adding in the profits of another major academic publisher, Springer, would bring the overall […]


  38. […] open access advocates and their blogs?) – pointed out that this calculation was incorrect, and that the actual figure was more like $730 per article. But adding in the profits of another major academic publisher, Springer, would bring the overall […]


  39. […] advocates and their blogs?) – pointed out that this calculation was incorrect, and that the actual figure was more like $730 per article. But adding in the profits of another major academic publisher, Springer, would bring the overall […]


  40. […] In Public It’s Rude, In Private It’s Creepy Why Indoor Navigation is so Hard Building Windows 8 Download Windows 8 Developer Preview DPLA: First Things First Copyright Office on Mass Digitization Economics of Open Access Publishing […]


  41. According to a recent article in The Economist, in 2010 the profits of Elsevier were $1.1 billion, for a profit margin of 36%. Of goats and headaches http://www.economist.com/node/18744177/

    So Jeff Hecht has a point that my original post exaggerated Elsevier’s profits, but nevertheless simply taking Elsevier profits and dividing them by ALL the scholarly articles in the world would give us an average of something over $700 per article to cover OA article processing fees.

    My point is not meant to be about exact calculations, obviously we should take into account Elsevier revenue for costs as well as total revenue for other publishers, too. This is just meant to be one illustration of how far removed from fiscal reality the present situation is. Thanks to everyone for their comments.


  42. […] and instead rip us off even more! For a short calculation on just how much money they make see this at […]


  43. […] In Public It’s Rude, In Private It’s Creepy Why Indoor Navigation is so Hard Building Windows 8 Download Windows 8 Developer Preview DPLA: First Things First Copyright Office on Mass Digitization Economics of Open Access Publishing […]


  44. […] Scientific Reports, the Royal Society’s Open Biology and SAGE’s SAGE Open, now the king of evil predatory price-gouging publishers-whose-business-model-is-to-prevent-papers-being-read Elsevier are — you won’t believe this — launching their own PLoS ONE clone, FEBS […]


  45. […] slack as they’re not on the AAP list – the one on the list is a different Springer) could fund the publication of every paper in the world in PLoS ONE. Remember that the cost of putting a SAGE article on reserve for a decent sized class or of […]


  46. […] As someone demonstrated, just the annual profits from Elsevier could fund the publication of most of a year’s total scholarly output of publications…. […]


  47. […] for funding bodies to impose this perfectly natural requirement.  It may not be surprising that a corporation as predatory as Elsevier wants legal protection for its exploitative business model of stealing publicly funded research; […]


  48. […] economics of the current model are not justified, an analysis revealed that we could publish all papers in the world using the PLoS ONE model and costs with just the profits of the two largest publishers: Elsevier […]

  49. aram Says:

    arxiv.org costs $6/article.
    They don’t referee, but this is all provided by volunteers.


  50. […] know that I’ve tended to be very critical of Elsevier on these pages [peer review, economics, PLoS clone, RWA, profits].  I’ve sometimes wondered whether that’s really fair: after […]


  51. […] que se paga. Por mais que precisem ser pagos pelos pesquisadores, artigos de acesso aberto saem mais barato para serem acessados, enquanto a assinatura de revistas pela Capes gera um custo anual de 40 milhões de dólares e […]


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