“APLU appreciates the decision of the editors and editorial board members of Elsevier’s journal, Lingua, to resign and form a new publication intended to disseminate scholarly work at a lower cost. It is time to further test less expensive modes for scholarly communication.
“Electronic publication now enables preparation, distribution, access, and archiving of articles at a fraction of the cost of the comparable print publications of earlier times. However, the subscription costs to university libraries of many major journals do not reflect these reduced costs. Indeed, many subscription costs have gone up much faster than inflation.
“As publishers have merged and become more powerful, universities are often paying more for publishers’ mark-ups. The federal government makes massive investments in researchers, staff, and facilities to advance knowledge; publishers do not. Universities similarly make big investments in research. University faculty generally are the authors, editors, and reviewers of the articles coming out of that research. To get their articles published, faculty usually must transfer significant copyrights to the publishers. Then the publishers sell back to the universities the very content they as a group produced, and at steadily higher subscription prices. The system is fundamentally broken.
“It is important to have a healthy and high-quality publication process. APLU has supported limited embargo periods to allow publishers to recover the cost of their services and we welcomed the Office of Science and Technology Policy mandate for public access. But these steps alone are not enough. It is clear there too few alternative channels for publication to keep user costs in check.
“While we do not know all the details of Lingua’s particular case, it’s abundantly clear that the frustrations of its editors and editorial board are widespread. Scholars, librarians, and university administrators are committed to the free exchange of ideas and information and a growing number find that dissemination of knowledge is being significantly hampered. In a day and age when the public can get information from seemingly unlimited sources, the world of academic publishing has been more consolidated into a limited number of tightly controlled channels.”
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