Putting a price on Europe’s spending on scientific journals | Chemistry World

Analysis comes as consortia of institutes revolt over price increases and open access across the continent

Europe’s academic institutions and libraries are spending over €383 million (£333 million) on their biggest contracts with scientific publishers. The figures, gathered for the first time, cover the price of 66 of 88 so-called ‘big deal’ contracts in 2016–17. Big deals offer electronic access to large bundles of journals for a wide range of fields. Contracts usually run for three years, with prices normally increasing each year – often by up to 4%. Adding in contracts for e-books and databases took expenditure to over €421 million. Some 65% of spending on periodicals was with Dutch publishing giant Elsevier.

The European Universities Association (EUA), which carried out the survey, says the figures underestimate spending because confidentiality agreements forbid many consortia from disclosing all their data. Only one in 10 of the deals include the article processing charges that publishers levy to make research papers available in open access or hybrid journals.

Lidia Borrell-Damián, the EUA’s director of research and innovation, says there is currently a major problem with pricing transparency. Negotiators often don’t know exactly what they’re paying for each of the services publishers provide. A subscription bundle offered in France might not be the same as that offered in Germany, she says, so ‘even if you know what the Germans or French are paying, you really don’t know if it’s a fair price’.

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Putting a price on Europe’s spending on scientific journals | News | Chemistry World.