‘Trimming the fat’ – Implications for research

Libraries from all around the world are unbundling their subscriptions to the full suite of publishers’ journals in an effort to curb costs. This trend, known as ‘trimming the fat’, is extremely damaging to research and innovation, writes Manuel Martin for ZME Science.

While universities attempt to negotiate the costs of their deals with publishers, students and academics have restricted or limited access to the information they need. The top five private companies account for over half of all published articles. This oligopoly can only mean one thing: higher prices for consumers.

Scientific publishers earn most of their revenue through university libraries, research labs and governments. More than three-quarters of the published journal articles can only be accessed through a paywall, and if these entities fail to purchase subscriptions of bundled titles, prices can even approach US$32,000 for large journals. According to the Association of Research Libraries, in 1986, “libraries spent 44% of their budgets on books compared with 56% on journals; 12 years later, the ratio had skewed to 28% and 72%.”
Full report on the ZME Science site