For those of you fascinated by the various estimates of the cost of scholarly publishing, I send on this from the British Wellcome Trust, an independent research-funding charity that works in various medical fields.
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Subject: Wellcome Trust report, FT article, on costs of scientific publishing
More on scientific publishing cost .... The Wellcome Trust has just
published a report commissioned by it, "Costs and business models of
scientific publishing" (URL below). ... perfectly timed for a rainy
holiday week-end in the UK!
Today's Financial Times (30th April 2004) carries an article* by Dr. Mark
Walport, a director of the Wellcome Trust, heralding the report: "A
report launched today by the Wellcome Trust, available to everyone [!] at
http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/publications shows that publishing a paper in the
traditional way costs between £800 and £1,500. Under open access, the cost
is £550 to £1,100. The report shows this is an efficient, affordable and
high quality model sustainable for the long term."
The FT article is an outline of the scientific publishing/open access
debate. A few extracts below - if readers want to see the full article,
please let me know.
The Wellcome Trust is anxious that "the new knowledge the research [funded
by public or charitable funds] brings must be made widely available for
maximum impact". While acknowledging benefits of the current journal
system (peer review, selection, promotion of important articles in
editorials), Dr. Walport also sees problems and anomaly:
"The [scientific publishing] market is largely invisible to the providers
and users of research. Researchers and peer reviewers neither make nor
receive payment. Readers are unaware of comparative subscription costs of
different journals. "Meanwhile, the subscription costs have risen by much
more than inflation. Some publishers acquire groups of journals and sell
them electronically to libraries in a single package. This poses a new
problem for libraries. Paper copies of journals reside on shelves for
ever, but the content of journals bought online may be available only for
the lifetime of the subscription. "Another issue is that once copyright is
surrendered, anyone wanting to look at that research in the future,
including the researchers and the body that funded them, must pay whether
they read the paper journals or access them online. Thus, the Wellcome
Trust, which funds £400m of research a year, is denied opportunities to
disseminate the results of studies it funds."
Digital Archiving Consultancy