Link: Costs of scientific publishing

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Jonathan Tennant and colleagues have a new review of the impacts of open access scientific publishing: “The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review”. The review comments on the costs of traditional subscription publishing:

The question of the current publication cost is difficult and confounded by estimates of the total global publishing costs and revenue. Data provided by Outsell, a consultant in Burlingame, California, suggest that the science-publishing industry generated $9.4 billion in revenue in 2011 and published around 1.8 million English-language articles. This equates to an approximate average revenue per article of $5,000. A white paper produced by the Max Planck Society estimated costs at €3,800–€5,000 per paper through subscription spending, based on a total global spending of €7.6 billion across 1.5–2 million articles per year in total (Schimmer et al., 2014). Other estimates suggest that the total spend on publishing, distribution and access to research is around £25 billion per year, with an additional £34 billion spent on reading those outputs, a sum which equates to around one third of the total annual global spend on research (£175 billion; Research Information Network (2008)).

I had a short Twitter convo the other day with a reader who felt unable to pursue open access publishing because of author fees. I’m no purist; many of my papers are best placed in subscription journals. But fees do not stop me from publishing articles in open access journals. Responsible journals waive fees for authors who do not have institutional or grant support for author fees, and of course many open access journals publish papers without any author fees.


Tennant JP, Waldner F, Jacques DC, Masuzzo P, Collister LB, Hartgerink CHJ. 2016. The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review. F1000 Research 5:632. doi:10.12688/f1000research.8460.1