How much does the library pay for journals?

A boycott of Elsevier journals has been growing to show opposition to their support of the Research Works Act and their 36% profits (see Research Bought, Then Paid For – an Op-Ed in the New York Times, Elsevier boycott gains momentum, Elsevier responds to the boycott, and “Of goats and headaches”–The Economist on journal publishing for previous posts on these issues ).

There have also been prominent articles about the lack of public accessibility of academic research, such as “Locked in the Ivory Tower: Why JSTOR Imprisons Academic Research”  which appeared in The Atlantic on Jan 20, 2012. This particular article points to JSTOR as an example of the “broken economics of academic publishing”. Nancy Sims from University of Minnesota wrote “Academic publishing is full of problems; lets get them right” which is a good response to the Atlantic article, correcting some of the specifics.

Since that time, we have seen faculty taking note of the cost of some e-journal packages and collections of titles, most notably the $2.9 million figure from Purdue when that institution came close to cancelling their Elsevier package in December. (“Purdue re-signs contract for online scholastic access” )

In order to keep Iowa faculty informed about the cost of journals from a variety of sources, we offer these figures for University of Iowa costs from FY 2011:

Publisher Cost # of Titles
Elsevier $       1,641,530


Wiley/Blackwell $           868,031


Springer $           607,540


Sage $           243,647


JSTOR $             97,602


Cambridge UP $             43,940


Project Muse $             33,210


Oxford UP $             21,313


Please note that the JSTOR figure is for back content (the so-called moving wall), not current issues.

The following chart offers another way to view the relative size shares of the pie different publishers receive from our acquisitions budget (the denominator for these percentages is total spending on e-journals). The data is slightly older than that used above.

Article written by Wendy Robertson, Digital Scholarship Librarian.  Originally published here:

New UI journal: Proceedings in Obstetrics and Gynecology

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa would like to announce the inaugural issue of Proceedings in Obstetrics and Gynecology, a new journal.

The journal is peer-reviewed, and with the goal of becoming listed in PubMed.  Proceedings in Obstetrics and Gynecology will be published as an online journal quarterly and is supported by the University of Iowa Libraries.  In the first issue you will find information about the clinical and research divisions in the Department, recent publications from faculty members, full length articles, and interesting clinical cases.

You can locate the journal at If you would like to be on the distribution list to be notified when future issues are released, please email

Open Access Publishing in the Health Sciences

Editor’s Note: Throughout Open Access Week (Oct 19-23), the UI Libraries will be sharing the views of our UI colleagues on the topic of open access.

by Dr. William Sivitz, Professor of Internal Medicine

I recently published an article in PlosOne (Mitochondrial Targeted Coenzyme Q, Superoxide, and Fuel Selectivity in Endothelial Cells by Brian D. Fink, Yunxia O’Malley, Brian L. Dake, Nicolette C. Ross, Thomas E. Prisinzano, and William I. Sivitz). I found the process straightforward and faster than most other journals. The peer review was thorough but fair. I hope to see this used more frequently.


by Dr. Michael Knudson, Association Professor of Pathology

We published in Plos One and found it a very satisfying experience.  Quick, insightful reviews, no charge for color figures and no copyright forms to sign.

The journal allows readers to provide feedback and ratings of each article.  I would recommend Open Access to all.

Who Should Pay? Does Open Access Mean Free Access?

Editor’s note: Throughout Open Access Week (Oct 19-23), the UI Libraries will be sharing the views of our UI colleagues on the topic of open access.

by Dr. Christopher Squier, Professor, College of Dentistry and Christine White, Librarian, College of Dentistry

Traditionally, the cost of publishing articles in print journals has been borne (apart from page charges for lengthy articles or colored illustrations) by the publisher, based on income, from subscriptions from readers or libraries. This is reasonable considering the high cost of supporting the scholarship that forms the basis of a publication. With open access articles, however, there is now a movement towards freely providing the material to the reader but shifting the cost of publication on the scholar. Fees, which may range from $500 to $3000, are requested from the author, although in a few situations, voluntary donations are solicited to help support a journal (e.g., Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists / Angle Orthodontist), or the publication may be subsidized by a publisher’s other journals, as acknowledged by PLoS. Other mechanisms include support from advertisers, such as the Journal of Chemical Education, which notes that “advertising in the Journal plays a significant role in helping to keep your subscription affordable,” or sponsored by an open access individual/institutional membership fee, which provides discounts to authors based on the number of articles submitted for publication (e.g., Bentham Open:

There are good reasons to resist moving the costs of publication from the publisher to the author, even when there may be grant or institutional funding to support this. The major objection is the temptation to base publication on the ability to pay rather than on the quality of work, as determined by peers. When costs are passed onto grants or academic institutions, the sponsor is, in effect, paying twice: once for the cost of doing the research and again to publish it, and the support available for new research is reduced. Of course, it could be argued that the institution pays when it purchases subscriptions, but because a large number of academic and industrial organizations all do this, the cost is spread over a large pool.

Should the reader be allowed free access as well as open access? Should the traditional balance be kept between authors, institutions and publishers? These are questions that we must continue to discuss.

“Open Access or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Internet”

Did you know that access to some scholarly journals can cost as much as buying a new car…every year? That is a price that UI Libraries cannot afford, but it is a research tool that YOU can’t afford to work without. So what do we do? Open Access: it means more readers, more recognition and more impact for new ideas.

We invite you to join us to hear Molly Kleinman, Special Assistant to the Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan and a copyright specialist, talk about it: “Open Access or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Internet” at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 20th in the Bijou at the Iowa Memorial Union. 

This event is part of UI Libraries’ celebration of Open Access Week, October 19-23, 2009. Also that week, we’ll be posting more useful information about open access including our UI colleagues own experiences with open access.

For more information about scholarly communication and your role in creating a
sustainable system, check the Libraries website (

Co-sponsors of this event include the University of Iowa Libraries, Department of Communication Studies, Graduate Student Senate, the UI Center for Human Rights, College of Public Health, Widernet, Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students, and the Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI).

Hardin 2009 Journal Cancellations: announcement and request for feedback

Due to changes in the Hardin  library’s collection development funding, we must reduce our budget by an estimated $170,000. Here is a proposed list of journals to be cancelled for 2010 by the Hardin Library. The list is in Excel and can be sorted by title, cost, index, etc.

Any requests to keep a title should be sent to I will need comments back by July 24th. Comments should be made about titles that will impact the commenter’s discipline. In other words, a physician should not comment on a dental title. A nurse should not comment on a pharmacy title, etc.


Linda Walton, M.L.S.
Associate University Librarian & Director
Hardin Library for the Health Sciences
University of Iowa
600 Newton Road, Iowa City, IA 52242
319-335-9873; 319-353-3752 (FAX)