The “Serials Crisis” Explained…

The problem

The Association of Research Libraries explains the situation facing libraries and scholars in the marketplace:

Scholarly communication relies in part on the ability of research libraries to purchase published works. The marketplace for scholarly publishing has developed in ways that challenge libraries’ ability to acquire the works needed by their users. Commercialization of publishing in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors has led to egregious price increases and unacceptable terms and conditions of use for some key research resources needed by the scholarly community.

By “egregious price increases”, they refer to:

Rapidly rising journal subscription prices have severely eroded the ability of libraries, universities, and scholars to purchase the publications necessary for research and education. While the CPI increased 73% between 1986-2004, research library expenditures for serials increased 273%.

In addition to exorbitant pricing, publishing practices, such as the requirement of copyright transfer to the publisher, the bundling of publications into expensive aggregate subscriptions, and highly restrictive licenses have placed increasing burdens on dissemination of research.

Why should you care?

  • Rising costs and restrictions affect the amount of research you can have access to.
  • Rising costs and restrictions affect the number and circumstances of people who can have access to your published research.
  • Traditional publishers’ practices of demanding copyright from authors affect your ability to use your own work in your scholarship and teaching.

What can you do?