In a recent article on The Conversation, Patrick Burns, dean of libraries and vice president for IT at Colorado State University and a member of the ARL Coordinating Committee, discusses the unsustainability of the academic journal market. He notes that scholars need access to journals to do their work but “few research libraries can afford all the journal subscriptions needed by all of their faculty for all occasions.”
Burns identifies the root of the problem: “in our institutions of higher education and our research labs, scholars first produce, then buy back, their own content” via journal subscriptions. That system coupled with soaring journal prices have made it impossible for academic libraries to keep up with subscription costs.
In conclusion, Burns points to a few possible solutions, including “taking collective action with publishers to obtain lower pricing immediately, with reasonable annual inflation, and better bundling of titles so libraries get the ones we want rather than the ones publishers add.” He also mentions open access journals and preprint versions of articles as partial solutions.
Read the full article, “Academic Journal Publishing Is Headed for a Day of Reckoning,” on The Conversation.
Burns’s article is part of a larger effort that he is leading to track the unsustainability of ARL libraries’ journal expenditures (using surveys) and to communicate about the issue to the broader research community. See related resources linked from the ARL Coordinating Committee webpage.