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Transparency and openness to scientific publishing: the Finnish research organisations pay millions of euros annually to the large publishers

Open Science and Research Initiative announces the scientific publisher costs paid by Finnish universities and research organizations from 2010 to 2015. According to the data, the publisher costs have risen around ten percent per year.

 

By opening the publisher cost information we want to display the costs of the current publishing model. Science needs a way to publish research results and implement peer review in a cost-effective manner, which the current publishing model is not. Scientific publishing is a very profitable business — the largest scientific publishers draw profits of 30 - 40% and e.g. Elsevier's journal package price in 2015 is 1.5 times more than in 2007.  The research system has enough money to transform the current subscription model to open access.

Publications resulting from publicly funded research must be openly available

Recently several groups have taken a stand on open access and transparent subscription fees. Transparency in subscription fees is widely recognized as a measure in which it is time to move from visions to action (e.g. Amsterdam Call for Actions 2016 and The Alliance of Science Organizations in Germany).

EU Competitiveness Council announced as their target that all scientific publications resulting from publicly funded research must be openly available to everyone by 2020. The report of Max Planck Institute in Germany stated last fall that a large-scale transformation of the current scientific subscription journals to an open access business model would be possible with equivalent or lower costs. In October 2015 The League of European Research Universities (LERU) made a statement against the rising prices and in support of Open Science. In addition, Commissioner Moedas and Secretary of State Dekker made a call on scientific publishers to adapt their business models to new realities.

In Finland, the FinELib consortium formed by higher education institutes, research institutes and libraries negotiates centralized license contracts for electronic resources of scientific publishers. The annual value of these contracts is slightly over EUR 18 million (2014). In addition, e-journal subscription fees paid outside FinELib amounted to approximately EUR 7 million in universities in 2014. At present a contract with i.a. Elsevier is under negotiation.

The collection of publisher cost information started when Leo Lahti made an information request to Aalto university on behalf of Open Knowledge Finland. The actual consolidated information request to research organizations was send by the Ministry of Education and Culture in cooperation with the FinELib consortium. The Open Science and Research Initiative has also acted as a coordinating party for data collection and has  carried out harmonization of the dataset together with other parties involved with the information request. Within the project a web application for the publication of the dataset was also produced. Data collection and its compilation would not have been possible without the libraries and staff of higher education institutes, research institutes and other organizations, who answered the information request.

Publisher cost data is now available as open data licensed under CC BY 4.0 license. You are free to share and adapt the data for any purpose, with author attribution and indication if changes were made. Publisher cost details and a link to the web application can be found at openscience.fi/publisher_costs.

More information:

  • Questions regarding the information request: sami.niinimaki@minedu.fi
  • Questions regarding the data: finelib@helsinki.fi
  • Open science and research iniative: avointiede.fi@postit.csc.fi