01 January 2009

Journal prices and exchange rates

Today's Times Higher Education Supplement has an item on the damage done to library budgets by shifts in the exchange rates in favour of the dollar and the euro against the pound.

This could be good news for open access, paradoxically - but only if university administrations take on board the fact that spending money on toll access journals (whether author tolls or reader tolls) is not the best use of money. They should be advising their researchers to publish in genuinely 'open' journals, that is those that are totally free, and to engage actively in the development of such journals. The collective buying power of universities would be better put to producing rather than buying. The market advocates love the idea of competition, so why not compete?

I'm not too sanguine, however: I doubt very much that Vice-Chancellors will get together on this and decide upon an open access publishing programme to challenge the vice-like grip of the commercial publishers. Their reaction in the past to the problems of library funding do not give one much hope that they will adopt it as an issue of major concern, since their attitude has generally been that if cancellations are necessary, it's just too bad.

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