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Study shows subscription price variations

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Journal prices have risen by very different amounts over the past seven years, according to a study by LISU, based at Loughborough University, UK.

The report, commissioned by Oxford Journals, updates findings from a previous study conducted in 2004, and offers insights into journal subscriptions from 2000 to 2006, including overall price, price per page, and price per point of impact factor. The study focused on two subject areas: biomedicine and social science.

According to LISU’s research, median journal prices ranged from £198 (Cambridge University Press) to £859 (Elsevier) for biomedical titles, and £119 (University of Chicago) to £513 (Wiley) for social science titles in 2006. Median price per page ranged from 31p (Oxford Journals) to £1.06 (Wiley) for biomedical titles, and 13p (University of Chicago) to 93p (Wiley) for social science titles in 2006.

Price increases over the time period also varied widely between the eleven publishers covered in the report. Increases in the median journal price between 2000 and 2006 varied from 42 per cent (Oxford Journals) to 104 per cent (Sage) in biomedical titles and 47 per cent (Elsevier) to 120 per cent (University of Chicago) for social science titles

‘The first LISU pricing report in 2004 generated considerable interest within the library and scholarly publishing community, so it was important for us to continue to monitor these trends, and to share these with the wider community,’ commented Martin Richardson, managing director of Oxford Journals.

Claire Creaser, director of LISU and one of the report’s authors, added, ‘Serials pricing remains a key concern of librarians in all sectors. It is an area which is becoming more complex, with publishers seeking to adapt to the growing demands of authors and readers in relation to access and quality of research outputs.’

Over 8,000 journals were included in the analysis. The publishers covered were: Blackwell Publishing; Cambridge University Press; Elsevier; Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; Nature (specialist journals); Oxford Journals; Springer; Sage; Taylor and Francis; University of Chicago Press; and Wiley. Trends in Scholarly Journal Prices 2000-2006 (Sonya White & Claire Creaser, LISU, 2007) is freely available from the LISU website as a downloadable PDF.