As Journal Subscription Fees Exhaust Library Budgets, Universities Mandate Open Access Preprint Repository Publishing

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-12-16

Given that at some universities, such as the University of California San Francisco, journal subscriptions consume approximately 85% of collections budgets, switching to Open Access peer-reviewed pre-print repositories becomes an enticing alternative to toll-based scientific journals.


The financial data of the University of California San Francisco for the year 2017 tally up its annual spending on collective and specialist journal subscriptions at 60 million USD, which leaves only 15% of budgets which its branch and online libraries have to share for other content acquisitions. These figures showcase the situation of university and research libraries around the world that are confronted with the global scientific publishing industry in which private companies have the market share of 65% and approximately 85% of content is protected by paywalls. Moreover, in recent years the subscription fees to the highest-ranking scientific journals have grown at steeper yearly rates than the journal publishing market average of 6%.

This condition of the journal publishing market, which is financially unsustainable even for the richest academic and research institutions in the West, also precludes access to most recent scientific findings to those who cannot afford to shoulder ever increasing subscription fees. For this reason, universities increasingly call for a switch to Open Access preprint repositories as default-choice publishing venues for the output of their researchers and faculty. In other words, Western academic leaders, such as Prof. Keith Yamamoto, acting as a vice chancellor for the science policy and strategy of the University of California San Francisco, mandate a blanket adoption of preprint repositories, e.g., New Zealand’s Tuwhera, as valid alternatives to tall-protected journals, given that these repositories are expected to be furnished with editorial boards and peer-review procedures the costs of which are slated to be covered by internal and external, non-profit funding.

By Pablo Markin

The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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