Harvard: Cost of Journals “Untenable”

Academic librarians have long lamented the unsustainable escalation in journal subscription prices (i.e. the “serials crisis”) – but a solution, and real change, needs to come from a shift within the values and behaviours of the academics who are the primary contributors to, and consumers of, these journals.
On April 17, 2012 the Faculty Advisory Council at Harvard University released a memorandum to all faculty “…to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library.”
“Harvard’s annual cost for journals from these providers now approaches $3.75M….Prices for online content from two providers have increased by about 145% over the past six years, which far exceeds not only the consumer price index, but also the higher education and the library price indices.”
The Faculty Advisory Council suggests several options for faculty and librarians to consider to help shift this untenable situation including the critical, but elusive target: “move prestige to open access.”
As Robert Gonzales over at io9 puts it:
“What does it say about the world of academic publishing, the accessibility of knowledge, and the flow of information when the richest academic institution on the planet cannot afford to continue paying for its peer-reviewed journal subscriptions?”
Not all are applauding Harvard’s stance though…
Michael Eisen, a biologist at UC Berkeley (and co-founder of the Public Library of Science), has written a withering response to the Harvard announcement:
20 years of cowardice: the pathetic response of American universities to the crisis in scholarly publishing

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