« Wiley to Acquire Blackwell Publishing (Holdings) Ltd. | Main | Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research: Inaugural Issue »

Wiley and Blackwell - Commentary by Dana Roth

I always hope for the best but it has been my experience that many of Wiley's policies and pricing decisions appear to be detrimental to libraries. The recent article by the Bergstrom & Bergstrom, while discussing commercial publishers in general, very aptly describes what seems to be Wiley's business model ...

"Over the past decade, scientific publishing has shifted from a paper-based distribution system to one largely built upon electronic access to journal articles. Despite this shift, the basic patterns of journal pricing have remained largely unchanged. The large commercial publishers charge dramatically higher prices to institutions than do professional societies and university presses. These price differences do not reflect differences in quality as measured by citation rate."


Two of the best examples of this are:

Inorganica Chimica Acta (Elsevier) has a 2005 price per page of $1.88 ($8633/4588), an ISI Impact Factor of 1.61 and a p/p/IF of 1.17. Inorganic Chemistry (ACS) has a 2005 price per page of $0.26 ($2604/9977), an ISI Impact Factor of 3.85 and a p/p/IF of 0.07.

Thus, Inorganica Chimica Acta is 7 times more expensive per page ($1.88/$0.26) and is nearly 17 times (1.17/0.07) less cost-effective than Inorganic Chemistry.

Biopolymers/Peptide Science (Wiley) has a 2005 price/page of $3.70 ($6995/1893), an ISI Impact Factor of 2.55 and a p/p/IF of 1.45. Biomacromolecules (ACS) has a 2005 price/page of $0.26 ($905/3485), an ISI Impact Factor of 3.62 and a p/p/IF of 0.07.

Thus, Biopolymers/Peptide Science is 14 times more expensive per page ($3.70/$0.26) and is nearly 21 times (1.45/.07) less cost-effective than Biomacromolecules.

Henry Barschall (Physics Today, July 1998, p.56) defined the ratio of the price/printed character to the frequency with which articles in the journal are cited as the best indicator of a journal's cost-effectiveness. I have modified this slightly to the more easily determined ratio of the price/page to the ISI Impact Factor. Thus, in the examples above, the smaller the ratio the greater the journal's cost-effectiveness.

I think you will agree that these disparities can not continue indefinitely. It is sad but true that many of the very expensive journals are in a death spiral of cancellations, and are only surviving because of a few institutional subscriptions. Their excessive subscription cost not only penalizes the remaining subscribing libraries, which could be using these funds for other publications or services, but also insures that these articles will be largely unavailable to their target audience.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)