Journal Price Tags Revealed | The Scientist Magazine®
"Comparable academic institutions pay different prices for journal access, according to an analysis published this week (June 16) in PNAS. '[S]ome universities are paying nearly twice what universities of seemingly similar size and research output pay for access to the very same journals,' ScienceInsider reported. The discrepancies come with bundled packages of online subscriptions, prices for which are often negotiated behind closed doors. Scientific publishers have been accused of using bundling deals to be able to sell subscriptions for smaller or poor-quality journals that might otherwise be forced to close. Publishers require that institutions sign nondisclosure agreements, 'partly to limit the bargaining power of buyers and partly to hide the results of this unequal bargaining power,' Peter Suber, director of the Office for Scholarly Communication at Harvard University, told ScienceInsider. To unearth some of these data, a team of US economists contacted university librarians across the country; half willingly shared information about their bundled subscriptions. To get information on the other half required Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for copies of journal contracts with state-funded institutions. The process wasn’t without push back, either. In 2009, Elsevier unsuccessfully sued Washington State University in Pullman, claiming that such deals are “trade secrets” in hopes of blocking the release of subscription information ..."