Infographic: contribution and revenue for a typical scholarly paper

February 15, 2012

… and that’s why we’re angry.

(Note: exact percentages are made up.  But based on a true story.)


11 Responses to “Infographic: contribution and revenue for a typical scholarly paper”

  1. Schenck Says:

    Actually I think the reason people are angry would require another graph, showing the rising cost of access to articles. All the work, none of the pay, and then you’ve got to pay to get access to other articles!

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Schenck wrote: “Actually I think the reason people are angry would require another graph, showing the rising cost of access to articles.”

    You can find the graph you need here, part of this post by Björn Brembs.

    The punchline is that in the 22 years from 1986 to 2008, as inflation doubled the prices of typical goods, the prices of journal subscriptions increased by a factor of 4.75.

  3. Casey Says:

    Included within the green/author part should be the funding responsible for making the project possible. That’s part of the argument wrt to NIH/NSF funding I assume since US taxpayers have already paid once, for example. The amount of green varies widely across publications of course.

    Assuming that the brown in the right pie will remain large, could there be, or should there be a mechanism in which proceeds of publications be directed back at the funding agencies?

    Despite the estimated nature of the numbers, this is a good graphic representation of the argument.

  4. Nima Says:

    Elsevier, Wiley, GSW and the rest of those big publishers are parasites and intellectual property thieves, just like the RIAA and how it exploits musicians, sues people in THEIR name, and claims ownership over THEIR product, all while grubbing most of the profits and all of the settlements for itself.

    I say boycott them all, and anyone who doesn’t can write their name up on a big list of “willing sellouts” at the next SVP meeting. I’d love to see MORE sauropod papers published in APP, Palaeo-electronica, PLoS One, and so forth.

    From my view as a reader of papers, it’s infuriating that some of the ones I want to access the most are only available with subscriptions, and of course it’s the old “one in this journal, one in that one” story and the next thing you know, you’re being asked to shell out thousands $$$ just to read a handful of papers. These papers were funded with government grants, public money, and the public can’t access what their own money paid for.

  5. bacigalupe Says:

    Which editors make money? I know several and no one gets paid. It is certainly Elsevier and its stockholders who get it all. Some companies do even charge for processing a paper.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    bacigaupe asks “Which editors make money? I know several and no one gets paid.”

    Haha, good question. Well, I gave editors a 1% slice of the pie because I know someone who is an associate editor for an Elsevier journal, and is paid an annual stipend of $250. So that’s $5 per week. Since he spends, on average 5-10 hours per week on editorial duties, that comes to somewhere between 50¢ and $1 per hour, or 7%-14% of the federal minimum wage.

    Of course a more accurate pie-chart would have shown the author with a negatively-sized slice, since it’s not unusual for the author to have to pay page-charges for the privilege of signing over copyright to a profiteering corporation. But I couldn’t figure out a way to represent it graphically.

  7. brian engh Says:

    While I appreciate and empathize with your financial struggles I would like to take a moment to remind the SV-POWers that be that sauropods existed and that this used to be a blog about them.

    There are lots of places on the internet discussing intellectual property and the advent of new media, but there used to be only one place to find truly entertaining writing and well founded scientific perspective on the anatomical intricacies of sauropods.

    I demand vertebrae!!

  8. Mike Taylor Says:


    I direct you to my and Matt’s responses to a similar comment on a previous post.

    It’s great that you like the sauropod posts here, and it’s a dead cert that over the long term they will be the main thing we write about. But right now, the whole scholarly publishing ecosystem is up for grabs. Right now, that is what excites Matt and (particularly) me; and on this blog, we write about what we’re excited about.

    You’ll get your vertebrae. But it won’t be today.

  9. […] couple of people have complained that we’re writing too much about Open Access recently and not enough about sauropods.  I am […]

  10. confusedious Says:

    Makes me wonder whether a journal that paid contributors even a modest sum could occupy an otherwise empty niche…

    Who’s up for a little business venture?

  11. Mike Taylor Says:

    It’s an intriguing idea, but I have to say it makes me uneasy. When there is no prospect of revenue involved (directly) for the author, it’s easier to maintain a pure attitude. But if an Elsevier journal offered to pay me twice as much as a Springer journal, that would introduce an unwelcome new wrinkle into the deliberations.

    Of course the idea is supposed to be that academics are paid to write research papers anyway — that’s part of what their salary is for. For honorary research associates like myself, that’s never been true. But still it somehow wouldn’t feel right. Then again, I wonder how much that is just habit speaking rather than actual analysis?

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