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Commercial Journals More Than Twice As Expensive as IEEE Titles

:: From a news release from the IEEE site:

May 2005 Two new studies confirm that IEEE journals, magazines and periodicals are less than half the price of competitive publications.

The annual Periodical Price Survey published in the 15 April issue of Library Journal averaged the prices of 4,893 titles documented in three Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) databases. Based solely on price, the survey reveals that the average cost of an engineering journal in 2005 is $1,683, and the average cost of a math and computer science journal is approximately $1,262. Using the same calculation method, the average price of an individual IEEE Journal is just $549.

In addition, the 2005 edition of the annual IEEE Journal Pricing Study, released this week, finds that based on a statistically average 500-page journal, commercial scientific publishers charge an average of $896 per journal, compared to an average price of $387 for IEEE journals.

"According to this study, IEEE publications are 57 percent less expensive than those of commercial publishers," reports William O'Connor, IEEE Director of Marketing Operations, whose office conducts the annual IEEE study.

"In addition to total journal price, we also looked at the average price per page," said O'Connor. "IEEE journals in this study averaged $0.68 per page, while the average commercially published journal averaged $1.59 per page."

The IEEE study also found that the average 2005 journal price from other non-profit publishers is $460, and the average price for all commercial and nonprofit scientific journals combined is $695.

The Library Journal Periodical Price Survey singled out commercial publisher Elsevier, which has the highest overall median price in each of six subject fields. According to Library Journal, the most expensive journals in 2005 are from Elsevier Science, at an average cost of $1,070.

I was unable to find a link to the 2005 IEEE Journal Pricing Study.

From the Library Journal article, "Choosing Sides--Periodical Price Survey 2005":

Despite years of outrageous periodical prices in some fields, the data on the extent of the problem continues to mount-and continues to shock. An exhaustive study commissioned by Oxford University Press (OUP) and conducted by a British university, Scholarly Journal Prices: Selected Trends and Prices reveals great disparity among the pricing behaviors of 12 prominent scholarly publishers (http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/dis/lisu). The report gives five years of pricing data, publisher by publisher and comparatively across six broad subject fields.

Some interesting factoids: Elsevier has the highest overall median price, based on its entire portfolio of journals. Cambridge University Press has the lowest. Elsevier also has the highest median price in each of the six subject fields, though Kluwer and Sage come close to Elsevier's median price in the social sciences and humanities. Sage achieved the dubious distinction of highest overall rate of price increase between 2000 and 2004 (94%). Librarians looking for comprehensive cost/value analysis for journals in biomedicine will find a wealth of data in the report.

On Open Access, the article reports:
Despite rumors to the contrary, the OA movement remains a powerful catalyst for change. The number of journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals stood at 1,463 in February, double that of a year ago, with substantial numbers of peer-reviewed titles in fields like biology (61), chemistry (40), general medicine (164), neurology (31), public health (58), geology (22), philosophy and religion (48), education (110), and computer science (45). An ISI study found that the open access journals it tracks for impact are doing well, even when compared with very well-established traditional journals. As other studies of OA vs. toll-access articles emerge, indications are that OA literature will exceed toll-protected literature in both citations and downloads.

There are signs that commercial publishers are willing to experiment. OUP switched to an open access business model for Nucleic Acids Research, a top-rated journal. A number of hybrid OA experiments are underway that give authors a choice about when and how to make their articles free and open on the web, usually but not always based on an author's willingness to pay up front. Blackwell's Online Open service and Springer's Open Choice program are two early examples.

Cell Press is representative of another type of hybrid. Starting in January 2005, it is offering free access to the content of its e-journals once they are 12 months old. HighWire Press and others have been doing this for a long while, but it's the first time an Elsevier journal with the cachet of Cell Press has done so. These initiatives seem designed to keep authors within the folds of the traditional publishers rather than lose them to emerging journals that are fully open access.

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