Occupy Scholarly Communications

For the library outrage industry this week, business is booming.

From my academic librarian peers, there’s a bit of a hubbub about the proposed increases for scholarly journals (in particular ones from the American Chemical Society and SAGE.) I have a feeling that this is going to only grow bigger in the next couple of weeks.

Try this on for sticker shock in this pull quote from Barbara Fister.

Here’s my version of an Occupy Wall Street cardboard sign. At my library, we’ve been seeing big price increases in two big journal packages that we really need. Again. This is what we’re paying for American Chemical Society journals

  • 2010 – $29,705
  • 2011 – $34,337
  • 2012 – $41,741

This is what we’re paying for SAGE journals

  • 2010 – $39,105
  • 2011 – $41,442
  • 2012 – $52,500

Steve Lawson describes a 7.4% and 9% yearly increase respectively at his institution. From other casual online conversations I’ve seen, it’s not something isolated to their respective institutions. I have a feeling that if more people start comparing numbers (on sites like LISVendor.info or in the comments of this blog or the other two blogs or other social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter), there will be a greater picture emerging as how library vendors approach their clients and the pricing schemes they attach to them. Not only for academic institutions, but for every kind of library that is out there.

Occupy Scholarly Communications (#OccupyScholComm) is an idea that originated from John Dupuis. It’s an idea of shifting scholarly discourse from traditional journals to online platforms like blogs. To me it presents an interesting thought: that the scholarly process can take advantage of current platforms to move research further, faster, and be more dynamic in responses to changes in the real world than any current academic journal can move at. While I concede that there is value in research refereeing and peer review, scholarly communication is overdue for a revolution. This is not a new idea by a long shot, but it is something that librarians can seek to nurture and/or lead.

Since we are at it, is there anything else we should be looking to “occupy” as librarians?

10 thoughts on “Occupy Scholarly Communications

  1. I am so glad you are talking about this, the academic institution I work for just got the prices for the upcoming year, and we are stunned atright the priceacademic increases. Defiantly going to email this to my supervisor Monday morning.

    • Yeah, the price increase is pretty breathtaking. Unless there is some amazing compelling reason for the hikes, then it just seems a step below extortion.

  2. Is there anything else that comes with these steep increases (like, say, daily massages at the reference desk)? are chemists suddenly becoming 20% more prolific?

    • henare, in a word, no. Sometimes–as was apparently the case with SAGE–they say, “but we are giving you access to more journals,” those being ones the publisher has just started or ones they have recently bought through acquiring titles or other publishers. But it’s not like there’s a choice. They don’t say “you can keep your subscription the same, or you can add these five new publications for an extra 7% hike.”

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  5. Here’s a question for you Andy (and readers), knowing that I am totally in support of OccupyScholComm – is this really going to be the responsibility of librarians, or is it the responsibility of scholars to realize the sea change and live into it?

    The adaptations in scholarly communications, spurred by these outrageous costs, are creating complex issues, and us info pros need to do our part to make them clear and provide good accurate information, but ultimately it seems that scholars have to want the system to change which will ripple all the way through tenure and promotion boards, administrative offices (Provosts, Offices of Research and Faculties, etc) and that is too scary a task for most. At least that’s what I’m observing in my work, so far. Onward to fight the good fight.

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