Study Finds Major Inconsistencies in Journal Pricing

June 17, 2014

Most publishers keep secret the prices on journal "bundles" (packages including many journals) purchased by college and university libraries. A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (abstract available here) finds that there are many inconsistencies in the pricing plans. The authors of the study used open records requests to obtain contracts from many universities (and simply requested other contracts). As the research was described in Science, some academic libraries are paying much more than others. For instance, the study found that in 2009, the University of Michigan paid Elsevier $2.16 million for the same bundle of journals purchased by similarly sized University of Wisconsin at Madison for $1.22 million. Publishers and others cautioned that there may be reasons that aren't apparent for such discrepancies.


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