Scientific journals are (still) getting (more) expensive (than ever) – but the UK has an opportunity to make a statement

For quite a while now I have been submitting and managing Freedom of Information requests to more than a hundred universities in the United Kingdom.

While the issue around ever-skyrocketing costs of scholarly journals subscriptions isn’t news, I wanted to see whether, since the topic went in the mainstream, the awareness around it had any effect on what the universities are paying.

Universities can spend from a few hundred thousand to a few million pounds per year – and on average here, it increased by 24% in 3 years – which isn’t exactly mere inflation.

The chart below illustrates the increase (or the decrease, in a few cases) from 2013-2014 to 2016-2017. Some universities have yet to provide me with figures.

For instance, the University of Edinburgh spent £3,271,942 in 2012-2013 and £4,002,378 in 2016-2017. For the University of Leeds, it went from £2,550,905 to £3,916,916 during the same period.

The University of Exeter‘s expenditures went from £1,328,000 in 2011-2012 to £2,327,404 in 2016-2017, while Cardiff University‘s went from £3,482,334 to £4,654,046 (2012-2013 and 2016-2017).

You can see the compiled data for all universities (so far) in this spreadsheet! More coming up later (note that monetary figures between universities are not directly comparable, see the methodology tab).

Read the full story with a few comments and some perspective on Open Access, blockchain and other avenues from interviewees here.

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