THE SERIALS CRISIS: A White Paper for the UNC-Chapel Hill Scholarly Communications Convocation
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-06-28
Abstract: The term “serials crisis” has become common shorthand for the runaway cost increases of many scholarly journals. The serials crisis has also come to be closely associated with the pricing practices of certain commercial publishers, particularly in the areas of science, technology, and medicine (STM). To an extent, this characterization is correct—prices for journals in certain areas from certain publishers have skyrocketed far beyond the capacity of most libraries or universities to keep up. But “serials crisis” is perhaps a bit misleading, implying that if we just got the fever to break—convinced publishers to be more reasonable—we could return to business as usual. That will not happen, and probably cannot, since the serials crisis is, more accurately, only the symptom of a larger crisis in the system of scholarly communications. It is upon this system that the proper functioning of the entire academic enterprise depends. This paper will describe the nature of the problem, examine its roots, and review some promising developments.