Updated June 2016 and June 2017 to add new information for Finland, on 23 August 2016 and 17 July 2018 with information for Canada, on 20 December 2016 with information for the Netherlands, on 21 September 2017 with additional information for the US, on 6 December 2017 with information for New Zealand/Aotearoa, Argentina, and Chile, on 16 January 2018 with information for Korea, on 28 February 2018 with information for Spain, and on 21 March 2019 with information from Sweden and Norway.
Financial data on the amounts spent by different nations – or their academic sectors – on journal subscriptions is not collated in any systematic way at present. I have argued elsewhere that it would be extremely useful if this were the case, but in the meantime here is a brief list of some of the information which is currently available. This is not comprehensive, so feel free to comment below if you spot anything that is missing. (A similar list can be found on an Open Knowledge International wiki, from which I have borrowed some of this information).
- Data for over 150 higher education institutions over five years (2010-14) with ten publishers: http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1186832, and two further years (2015-16) with eight publishers: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4542433.v6
- SCONUL collect statistics each year directly from the libraries of higher education institutions. This data is not open, but in 2014/15 the total expenditure of the sector on serials (a term which predominantly, though not exclusively, refers to journals) was around £180m.
- Further FOI requests were sent in April-June 2018 by Steve Carufel, S. Goodman, and T. Fry.
Australia and New Zealand/Aotearoa
- CAUL statistics (1969-2010) are published for Australian and New Zealand/Aotearoa university libraries. The expenditure figures are top level only, not broken down by publisher. In 2010 [xlsx], Australian university libraries spent A$181m* and New Zealand/Aotearoa university libraries spent NZ$55m* on serials.
- A Freedom of Information (FOI) attempt was made in New Zealand/Aotearoa to find out exactly how much is spent on particular publishers, and after initial problems (see Market failure in the research world), the information was released – showing expenditure of around US$14.9M in 2016 (see Big Deal journal bundles: price information from New Zealand).
- ‘The library association reports that 123 members who responded to a survey in total spend about $140 million each year on digital database subscriptions, of which $33 million goes to Elsevier for ScienceDirect’ – in South Korean universities reach agreement with Elsevier after long standoff.
- Comprehensive national-level data is not known. The large and diverse nature of US higher education would make information difficult to obtain. An article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Theodore Bergstrom et al., ‘Evaluating big deal journal bundles’ [link to supplementary data], used FOI requests to find out the amounts paid to a selection of publishers by a variety of individual institutions.
- As Jill Cirasella has pointed out, the State of New York makes precise data openly available about the cost of various contracts. The numbers are huge.
- University of Alberta Libraries Announces Availability of Subscription Expenditures Data (see dataset).
- SFU Library serials costs each year from 1990 onwards.
- A huge amount of detailed data was released in May 2018, as ‘University library members of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) have jointly released their 2016-17 expenditure data for journal and database subscriptions licensed through the Canadian Research Knowledge Network consortium’ (http://www.carl-abrc.ca/news/carl-members-release-journal-subscription-cost-data/). Data is available at https://doi.org/10.20383/101.033.
- ‘Brazil has an nation wide agreement providing journal access to 423 academic and research institutions. It is called Portal de Periódicos, provided by CAPES. According to its 2013 financial report … CAPES spent US$ 93,872,151 (with US$ 31,644,204 paid to Elsevier). Some institutions that are not covered by the agreement, as they do not meet the eligibility criteria, had to pay in separate in order to get access to this portal, spending additional US$ 11,560,438.93.’ (figures from Ciência Aberta mailing list)
- Figures are available each year from 2008 until 2017, broken down by each publisher, on this Google doc: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8tIOSXoOtmvX3NtRHR0dW9NUU0/view (I haven’t been able to verify where these figures have come from yet.)
- Figures are available from 2004-2015 here: http://www.cincel.cl/content/view/90/50/
- VSNU have published ‘Overview of costs incurred by universities for books and journals by publisher‘, detailing spending over five years from the 13 largest universities in the Netherlands. These universities spent €43m on journals in 2015 (see underlying data [xlsx]).
- Academic publisher costs in Finland 2010–2015. See also a preliminary analysis, and further information.
- Updated figures for 2016.
- Public information shows that German libraries spent €130 million on journal subscriptions in 2011 (http://blogarchive.brembs.net/comment-n900.html). ‘These figures are broken down in different sections in several documents – but all of these are in German only’ (email from Björn Brembs – more recent figures, for 2014, are now available).
- Unverified estimate: A 2015 Max Plank policy paper (http://dx.doi.org/10.17617/1.3) said that ‘There are no consolidated figures for the country-wide subscription spending for scientific journals, but experts project these costs to be well beyond EUR 200 million per year.’
- ‘In Austria the public sector currently spends about 65 to 70 million Euros per year for the acquisition of academic publications’ – Recommendations for the Transition to Open Access in Austria (Version 2), Open Access Network Austria (OANA) & Universities Austria.
- ‘According to conservative estimates, it is assumed that the French academic sector is paying at least EUR 120 million per year for their subscriptions to scientific journals’ (Max Plank policy paper http://dx.doi.org/10.17617/1.3). This is an unverified estimate, but seems reasonable, given that at around €33-35m a year is paid just for the Elsevier deal (see https://blog.okfn.org/2014/11/11/france-prefers-to-pay-twice-for-papers-by-its-researchers/ and http://scoms.hypotheses.org/301).
- Full figures for one institution: https://alambic.hypotheses.org/6188
- ‘Spain spends around 25 million euros annually on subscriptions to Elsevier’ (https://www.elconfidencial.com/tecnologia/ciencia/2018-02-15/todos-contra-elsevier-gigante-revistas-cientificas_1521884/). This post contains detailed information for individual institutions, including healthcare organisations.
- Initial FOIs in June 2014 failed with one exception. After appeal, in several cases the appeal commission or the court decided that transparency about the costs is more important than the private interests of the publishers and the interests of the universities. Non-Disclosure Clauses in the contracts with Elsevier, Wiley and Springer were overruled by the national and cantonal transparency laws.
Article in German about the procedure: Gutknecht, Christian (2016). Transparenz von Subskriptionskosten in der Schweiz. In: 027.7 Zeitschrift für Bibliothekskultur 4(1). 26-32. DOI: 10.12685/027.7-4-1-103
- [Translated with Google translate] ‘The Royal Library (KB) has compiled the costs for subscriptions to e-journals and e-books and the publication of research articles in Sweden. […] The summary shows that the costs for 2017 were at least SEK 434 million. The total figure is higher, since all costs have not been collected in this first survey.‘ (http://www.mynewsdesk.com/se/kungliga_biblioteket/pressreleases/vad-kostar-den-vetenskapliga-publiceringen-2848109) This is approximately £36m (see full report).
- ‘In 2018 participating institutions paid around €9 million in subscription costs.’ (https://amp.mynewsdesk.com/no/unit/pressreleases/norwegian-research-institutions-have-decided-not-to-renew-their-agreement-with-elsevier-2846284)
* I’m not 100% sure whether I’ve used the correct currency here! The CAUL statistics just use a dollar sign.
5 thoughts on “Publicly available data on international journal subscription costs”
2014 data for Germany are here: https://www.bibliotheksstatistik.de/
This just in: University of Alberta Libraries, 2016, ” Subscription Expenditures 2014-2016 “, http://dx.doi.org/10.7939/DVN/10844 University of Alberta Libraries [Distributor] V1 [Version]
Thanks Ernesto! I’ve just added Canada to the main post to reflect this.
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