University actions against high journal pricesFor at least three decades universities have struggled with the problem of rising journal prices. Prices have risen faster than inflation since the 1970's, and four times faster since 1986. Because this rate greatly outpaced the growth of library budgets, it was obvious that it could not continue for much longer. But it was not obvious how it would end. Even though libraries had responded by selectively cancelling subscriptions and cutting into their book budgets, these incremental actions merely postponed the inevitable large-scale responses to reclaim control over their budgets and address the deeper problem. In late 2003 major universities started announcing large-scale cancellations. More, they accompanied these decisions with public statements denouncing publisher pricing practices as unsustainable and inconsistent with the mission of science and scholarship, and calling on all academic stakeholders to join in building sustainable and compatible alternatives.
SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #72
April 2, 2004
by Peter Suber
We've all heard about the major actions, at schools like Cornell, Duke, Harvard, and Stanford. But to understand what's been going on, we need to see a more comprehensive account. I've put together this list of actions by U.S. universities since the fall of 2003, with enough links for those who want to read further and enough detail for those who don't.
Now that I've assembled the list, I've put a version on my page of lists where I plan to keep it up to date.
The list is in chronological order, starting in the fall of 2003. There are earlier actions, but they do not seem to be part of the current wave of cancellations and public statements. As I learn about earlier actions, and actions outside the U.S., I will consider adding them to the web version of the list. I'd appreciate any additions or corrections.
It's notable how many of the university actions are accompanied by public statements. This is not library business as usual. This is direct action and self-conscious participation in a wider campaign. It's notable how often Elsevier is mentioned by name. It's not the only large, commercial publisher charging unbearable prices, but most universities on the list single it out as the worst offender. It's notable how many of the public statement go out of their way to say that the problem is rapidly rising prices, not tight library budgets, even while conceding that budgets have been tight. It's notable how many of the public statements protest Elsevier's negotiating tactics, not just its prices, bundling policies, and licensing terms.
It's notable how many of the public statements mention the need to cultivate alternative forms of scholarly communication, and open access in particular, as part of the overall solution. It's notable how many recommend that faculty withhold their labor as authors, referees, and editors from journals that aggravate the problem rather than advance the solution. It's notable how often faculty were persuaded to endorse the cancellations despite the harm it does to their research projects and careers. It's notable how often faculty, librarians, and administrators (and at Berkeley, also graduate students) agreed on their long-term interest (in a better publishing system and better journals forever) and put it ahead of their short-term interest (journals next year).
These actions show anger, not just businesslike responses to hard bargaining. They belie Elsevier's claim that most cancellations merely eliminate duplicates or eliminate print in favor of electronic subscriptions. They belie the claim that the system is not broken and does not need fixing. They belie the bluster that the subscription-based journal system has "evolved over hundreds of years to meet researchers' needs". They show a crisis at elite research universities with large budgets. From this we must infer graver and more widespread problems at less affluent institutions, even if they are less visible, and a large impediment to science itself represented by the access barriers growing at every level of higher education. Finally, each university action, especially if accompanied by a public statement, gives courage to the next university making the difficult decision to balance current access against long-term solutions. The evidence that they give courage lies in the way that the later public statements cite the earlier ones. If your campus is considering radical action, it's not alone.
Here's the list:
* University of California at Berkeley: Journal Prices and Scholarly Communication, memorandum to the Academic Senate Faculty from Thomas Leonard, University Librarian, and Anthony Newcomb and Elaine Tennant, co-chairs of the Academic Senate Library Committee, September 4, 2003. The memorandum contains an introduction by Robert M. Berdahl, Chancellor.
Summary: The University cancelled an undisclosed number of journals. It emphasized that the problem was runaway journal prices, not the library budget: "Berkeley will continue to face this runaway serials pricing even after the present budget crisis is over." Recommendations: "Faculty need to become aware of the pricing policies of journals (including commercial electronic journals) in their fields....Submit papers to quality journals that have reasonable pricing practices. Modify any contract you sign with a commercial publisher to ensure that you retain the rights to use your work as you see fit, including posting it to a public archive. Consider declining offers to review for unreasonably expensive journals and to serve on their editorial boards....Make changes in scholarly communication a recurring topic at departmental meetings. Consider taking over the publication and distribution of research within your scholarly community. This has already begun at Berkeley, particularly with our colleagues in the Sciences and the Social Sciences....Encourage your professional associations to maintain reasonable prices for scholarship and to establish access terms that are friendly to faculty and other users....The appearance of unconscionable pricing for academic journals...is a problem that has come upon the academy suddenly and has now reached crisis proportions. We will have no one to blame but ourselves if we do not begin to address it at once."
Public statement by the Berkeley Graduate Assembly on the pricing crisis and journal cancellations, September 15, 2003.
"The success of alternate models requires awareness on the part of faculty and students of the problems inherent in the current model. The Graduate Assembly calls on faculty, administrators, and graduate students to support a significant culture change in academia; we must create an environment in which faculty and students can choose to publish their cutting-edge research outside the standard academic publishing industry."
Also see the Berkeley library's web site with background information on the problem and more detail on the Berkeley response.
* University of California at Santa Cruz: Resolution on ties with Elsevier Journals, adopted by the Committee on the Library and sent to the Faculty Senate, October 24, 2003.
Summary: Elsevier journals cost 50% of the UC online serials budget but attracted only 25% of the usage. Elsevier profits rose 26% the previous year. Elsevier has been inflexible in negotiations. Taking the University of California system in its entirety, 10-15% of Elsevier content was written by UC faculty, 1,000 UC faculty serve on Elsevier editorial boards, and 150 serve as senior editors. The resolution recommends using the California Digital Library, the related eScholarship Repository, and peer-reviewed OA journals from PLoS and BMC. It urges faculty to retain copyright, the right of postprint archiving, and the right to distribute copies of their work to their classes. "Therefore, the UCSC Academic Senate resolves to call upon its tenured members to give serious and careful consideration to cutting their ties with Elsevier: no longer submitting papers to Elsevier journals, refusing to referee the submissions of others, and relinquishing editorial posts. The Senate also calls upon its Committee on Academic Personnel to recognize that some faculty may choose not to submit papers to Elsevier journals even when those journals are highly ranked. Faculty choosing to follow the advice of this resolution should not be penalized."
* University of California at San Francisco: Challenges to Sustaining Subscriptions for Scholarly Publications, memorandum to all UCSF faculty from Karen Butter, the University Librarian, and Leonard Zegans and David Rempel, co-chairs of the Committee on Library, November 1 2003.
Summary: The memorandum cites many of the same numbers and complaints as the Santa Cruz resolution (above). While singling out Elsevier it also generalizes that many commercial publishers are using unsustainable business models. "The Committee suggests that all UC faculty consider alternatives to publishing in and editing Elsevier journals. New initiatives, such as Public Library of Science and BioMed Central, promise high-quality peer-reviewed content at affordable prices. The Committee also suggests that faculty consider taking action by retaining certain intellectual property rights, such as including the right to post their work with an institutional repository....Therefore, should the negotiations with Elsevier fail, the Committee on Library strongly recommends that members of the UCSF faculty give serious and careful consideration to their association with Elsevier and consider the following actions: cease submission of papers to Elsevier journals, refuse to referee the submissions of others, and relinquish editorial posts. We would encourage any UCSF faculty who elect to alter their relationship with an Elsevier journal to notify the journal of their reason for doing so. Authors may also consider crossing out the provision in a standard publication contract that gives exclusive ownership of a published article to the publisher and thereby retain the right to publish the work in an electronic medium (e.g. UC's eScholarship Repository or others.)"
* Harvard University: Letter to the Harvard faculty from Sidney Verba, Director of the University Library, December 9, 2003.
Summary: The letter announces Elsevier cancellations, which took effect January 1, 2004. The cancellations were "driven not only by current financial realities, but also —and perhaps more importantly— by the need to reassert control over our collections and to encourage new models for research publication at Harvard....Elsevier journals are by far the most expensive....Elsevier's 2004 contract proposal to NERL was not responsive to Harvard's objectives....Of greatest concern to the Digital Acquisitions Committee and to the University Library Council was the lack of any option by which Harvard could prune its holdings and reduce its level of spending. Libraries wishing to cancel subscriptions could do so, but only by incurring steeply increased fees that obliterate any potential savings —while Elsevier's revenues continued to rise....Toward this end, we have foregone the NERL Elsevier license in 2004 in order to regain control over Harvard library collections in a manner that responds to the University's academic programs. Instead, the libraries will purchase online access to Elsevier journals individually and selectively....Declining the bundled agreement and intentionally reducing our outlay for Elsevier titles will ultimately give us the ability to respond to the marketplace unfettered by such artificial constraints....We believe this action can be a springboard for a vigorous and sustained effort to foster new models of research publication at Harvard. This effort could take many forms, all of which will require the active involvement of Harvard's research community. On many levels, Harvard is changing the ways in which it does business."
Jeffrey Aguero, Libraries to Cut Academic Journals, Harvard Crimson, November 24, 2003.
Anon., Libraries take a stand, Harvard University Gazette, Feburary 5, 2004, p.10-11.
* Cornell University: Resolution regarding the University Library's Policies on Serials Acquisitions, with Special Reference to Negotiations with Elsevier, adopted by the Faculty Senate, December 17, 2003.
Summary: "At Cornell, Ithaca campus library budgets for materials increased by 149% during [the period 1986-2001], but the number of serials titles purchased increased by only 5% —at a time when the number of serials published increased by approximately 138%....Over the last decade Elsevier's price increases have often been over 10% and occasionally over 20% on a year to year basis....The [Elsevier] contract has been priced as a 'bundle,' that is, in such a way that, if the library cancels any of the Elsevier journals it currently subscribes to, the pricing of the other individual journals the library chooses to keep increases substantially. (The actual process is somewhat more complicated than this, but this is the end result.) Because the prices of the journals that are retained greatly increase when others are cancelled, the only way to achieve any real savings is to cancel a great many journals....The library, in consultation with affected faculty, has identified several hundred Elsevier journals for cancellation at the end of 2003....[T]he University Faculty Senate endorses the library's decision to withdraw from Elsevier's bundled pricing plan and undertake selective cancellation of Elsevier journals....Recognizing that the cost of Elsevier journals in particular is radically out of proportion with the importance of those journals to the library's serials collection (measured both in terms of the proportion of the total collection they represent and in terms of their use by and value to faculty and students), the University Faculty Senate encourages the library to seek in the near term, in consultation with the faculty, to reduce its expenditures on Elsevier journals to no more than 15% of its total annual serials acquisitions expenditures (from in excess of 20% in 2003)....Recognizing that the increasing control by large commercial publishers over the publication and distribution of the faculty's scholarship and research threatens to undermine core academic values promoting broad and rapid dissemination of new knowledge and unrestricted access to the results of scholarship and research, the University Faculty Senate encourages the library and the faculty vigorously to explore and support alternatives to commercial venues for scholarly communication."
Also see the Cornell web site with background information on the problem and more details on the Cornell response.
Paula Hane, Cornell and Other University Libraries to Cancel Elsevier Titles, Information Today, November 17, 2003.
Jonathan Knight, Cornell axes Elsevier journals as prices rise, Nature, November 20, 2003 (accessible only to subscribers).
Anon., After failed negotiations, CU Library cancels Elsevier journal package, Cornell Chronicle, December 11, 2003.
* University of California system: Letter to all UC faculty from Lawrence Pitts, Chair of the Academic Senate, and the head librarians of the 11 UC campuses, January 7, 2004.
Summary: The letter cites and summarizes the preceding actions taken by several of the UC campuses (above) and announces the cancellation of "approximately 200" journals. "The economics of scholarly journal publishing are incontrovertibly unsustainable. Taming price inflation is not enough. Unless we change the current model, academic libraries and universities will be unable to continue providing faculty, students, and staff with the access they require to the world's scholarship and knowledge. Scholars will be unable to make the results of their research widely available. These are not statements about any single company, about the strengths and weaknesses of for- and not-for-profit publishing, or about the prospects of open-access versus subscription-based journal models. They are merely observations about economic reality....[W]e are have been paying more for access to a smaller proportion of the world's published knowledge. If we are to halt or even reverse that trend, we must aggressively ramp up and institutionalize our efforts to change the scholarly communication process....The UC Libraries are working aggressively to...support alternative means for publishing scholarly materials that make high-quality peer-reviewed work available at an affordable price."
The university created a Special Committee on Scholarly Communication to examine new methods of scholarly communication. It also created a web page to track the university's future actions on this front.
Also see the UC libraries web site on scholarly communications, which recomments that faculty "[s]upport open access journals and self-archiving".
On April 29, 2003, the UC Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee adopted a resolution on Digital Library Journal Collecting Principles. "To align costs with value, the Committee recommends that UC libraries, in close consultation with the faculty, initiate a Systemwide review and renegotiation of the University's contracts with publishers whose pricing practices are not sustainable."
Jennifer Murphy, Library struggles to fund access, Daily Bruin, November 17, 2003.
Elsevier issued its own press release on the California contract, emphasizing the volume of material the deal makes accessible to California users, January 10, 2004.
http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20040109005619&newsLang=en (dead link)
Anon., UC System Inks Five Year Deal with Elsevier, Stops Price Inflation, Library Journal, January 14, 2004.
Yvette Essen, Market Report, The Telegraph, January 20, 2004. Whether budget cuts in California will force the University of California to renegotiate its contract with Elsevier.
* Triangle Research Libraries Network: Changes in Elsevier Science Access</a>, memorandum to the Faculties (of Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) from Peter Lange, Provost at Duke, James Oblinger, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor at NCSU, and Robert Shelton, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor at UNC at Chapel Hill, January 14, 2004.
Summary: "[T]he member universities of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) have decided to discontinue the consortial arrangement by which they provided access to electronic journals published under the Elsevier Science imprint....Throughout months of renewal negotiations with Elsevier, TRLN and its member libraries have articulated two principal objectives:  To regain and maintain control over library collecting decisions in order to meet the constantly evolving information needs of faculty, researchers, and students; and  To manage overall costs in order to keep Elsevier expenditures consistent with materials budgets that have not been increasing at anywhere near Elsevier's annual inflation rate. Elsevier's final offer fails to meet both of these objectives....Because Elsevier Science has not offered TRLN a pricing model responsive to the needs of the consortium, TRLN has elected to terminate its consortial arrangement with Reed Elsevier. Each TRLN library will now make individual arrangements for Elsevier journal access on its own campus....Although libraries and universities are supporting new publishing models in an effort to maintain access to high-quality, peer-reviewed research at a manageable cost, there is still a reliance on the products of for-profit publishers. As a result of this dynamic, libraries can no longer offer the same range of publications to the academic community....The libraries...will begin to explore with you new models of scholarly communication that may, in the long term, help reduce costs and make scholarly information more widely available."
TRLN member North Carolina State University adopted a separate Resolution on Bundled Content and Elsevier on December 2, 2003. "[O]pen access and communication of scholarly research are fundamental to intellectual and academic freedom and critical to economic growth and development."
Eric Ferreri, Colleges ax journals deal, the Durham NC Herald-Sun, January 12, 2004.
http://www.herald-sun.com/orange/10-434527.html (dead link)
Anon., TRLN to Forgo the Big Deal, Library Journal, January 14, 2004.
Kenneth Ball, Libraries cancel Elsevier contract, North Carolina State University's TechnicianOnline, January 16, 2004.
Kenneth Ball, Senate Backs Libraries, Technician Online (the NCSU student newspaper), December 4, 2003.
Anon., NCSU Faculty Takes Hard Line on New Elsevier Deal, Library Journal, December 8, 2004.
Joseph Schwartz, Campus to drop journal contract, U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Daily Tar Heel, January 16, 2004.
* MIT: Announcement on the MIT Libraries web site. (February 2004?)
Summary: "The MIT Libraries have recently taken steps to reduce the impact of two large commercial publishers on our ability to make responsible decisions in selecting information resources for use at MIT. Specifically, we declined three-year renewal contracts that would have required us to guarantee on-going spending levels with Wiley InterScience and Elsevier Science. These actions ensure that if the Libraries need to reduce spending in the next year or two, we can make those decisions based solely on the specific needs of the MIT user community, without giving unfair advantage to certain publishers....The decision to decline the three-year renewals was difficult because the terms for one-year renewals were considerably less attractive. However, the one-year renewals put us in a position of being able to cancel titles next year if we need to."
Also see the MIT web site on scholarly communication for background information on the problem and news and advice for faculty.
* University of Connecticut, Resolution adopted by the Faculty Senate, February 9, 2004.
Summary: "Access to the scholarly literature is vital to all members of the academic community. Scholars and their professional associations share a common interest in the broadest possible dissemination of peer-reviewed contributions. Unfortunately, the business practices of some journals and journal publishers is inimical to these interests and threatens to limit the promise of increased access inherent in digital technologies. Development of library collections is more and more constrained by the rising costs of journals and databases. Faculty, staff, students, and university administrators must all take greater responsibility for the scholarly communication system. Therefore, the University Senate calls on all faculty, staff, and students of the University of Connecticut to become familiar with the business practices of journals and journal publishers in their specialty. It especially encourages senior tenured faculty to reduce their support of journals or publishers whose practices are inconsistent with the health of scholarly communication by submitting fewer papers to such journals, by refereeing fewer papers submitted to such journals, or by resigning from editorial posts associated with such journals. It encourages them to increase their support of existing journals and publishers whose practices are consistent with the health of scholarly communication. The Senate also calls on University administrators and departmental, school, college and University committees to reward efforts by faculty, staff, and students to start or support more sustainable models for scholarly communication. It calls on them to provide financial and material support to faculty, staff, and students whose work helps to ensure broad access to the scholarly literature. It also calls on professional associations and the University to invest in the infrastructure necessary to support new venues for peer-reviewed publication."
Before it adopted this resolution, the Faculty Senate deleted a recommendation (contained e.g. in the Santa Cruz resolution above) that tenure and promotion committees should respect faculty decisions to follow the advice of the resolution. See the minutes of the faculty meeting (scroll to item 8).
* Stanford University: Faculty senate approves measure targeting for-profit journal publishers, a press release issued February 24, 2004. The press release is based on a February 19 vote of the Faculty Senate.
Summary: With one dissenting vote, the Faculty Senate voted to encourage "libraries to cancel some costly journal subscriptions and faculty to withhold articles and reviews from publishers who engage in questionable pricing practices. The motion singled out publishing giant Elsevier as deserving special attention. 'We're not doing this to position ourselves to negotiate more effectively with Elsevier,' said University Librarian Michael Keller. 'We're doing this to change the whole scene. We're trying to change the fundamental nature of scholarly communication in the journal industry.'...'I think it's going to take a long time for its prestige and cachet to wear out,' [biology professor Robert] Simoni said. 'There are still so many people who think publishing in Cell is going to make their career that they'll still get submissions. But if institutions like Stanford and others stop subscribing to journals like Cell, authors will eventually realize that their work is not being seen. This is an evolutionary change and it will take time."
Michael Miller, Fac Sen discusses journal fees, The Stanford Daily, February 6, 2004. Stanford discusses how to respond to the serials crisis.
Ryan Sands, Fac Sen addresses costly journals, The Stanford Daily, February 20, 2004.
* University of Maryland: Changes in Access to Journals Published by Reed Elsevier, a letter from William W. Destler, Provost, to the faculty, February 20, 2004.
Summary: The university cancelled consortial access to the Baltimore campus subscriptions and converted the College Park campus subscriptions to electronic-only. It describes the failed Elsevier negotiations in language similar to that in the TRLN statement above, and then continues. "By retaining the ability to cancel titles, the Libraries maintain the option of building collections with other publishers' titles where they provide greater value to the campus community....The University of Maryland is working with other research universities to address this crisis. One example of this type of work is the Libraries' participation in the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition [SPARC]....I firmly believe that universities must address this crisis in the system of scholarly communication. Our libraries need our support in their work with the university community to regain control of their budgets, their collections, and the intellectual property that is the ultimate output of the research enterprise. I encourage you to continue to engage in discussions with our library faculty about what we are doing to explore new models of scholarly communication and restore a measure of rationality to the publishing system. It is important to extend the discussion beyond our campus as well, especially for those of you who serve on editorial boards of journals published commercially or by learned societies."
* Indiana University at Bloomington: Resolution on Journals, Databases, and Threats to Scholarly Publication, adopted by the Bloomington Faculty Council, February 27, 2004.
Summary: "The continuing escalation of serial prices, which have more than doubled in the past 10 years, is unsustainable in the long run. The increase is due to a number of factors: the information explosion, the expansion of electronic capabilities by publishing groups, as well as the growth of mega-publishers whose profits greatly exceed the Consumer Price Index....Scholars and their professional associations share a common interest in the broadest possible dissemination of peer-reviewed contributions. Unfortunately, it is the business practices of a few large journals and journal publishers that threaten to limit the promise of increased access inherent in digital technologies. Therefore, the Bloomington Faculty Council [A] calls on all faculty, staff, students, and university administrators of Indiana University Bloomington to work toward a more open publishing system by increasing their support of existing refereed journals and publishers whose practices are consistent with open access to scholarly communication and to support those who make such choices when considering tenure and promotion; [B] encourages faculty and staff to separate themselves from publishers with a narrow focus on profits at the expense of open scholarly publication; [C] calls on the university Libraries to educate faculty, staff, students, and university administrators on the business practices of different journals and journal publishers and their impact on the health of scholarly communication and on our Libraries at Indiana University Bloomington." The preamble adds the specific recommendations that faculty consider "withholding publications from their journals or choosing not to sit on their editorial boards" and that "[i]n tenure and promotion decisions faculty and staff must be confident that there is departmental and university support for their decisions to publish in referred journals with more open access."
Chris Freiberg, Council approves code revisions, Indiana Digital Student News, March 3, 2004.
* Macalester College: Background Information on Science Direct Decision, February 29, 2004.
Summary: Macalaster decided not to sign a three-year renewal of ScienceDirect. "The reality is we just can't commit to the inflexibility of not cancelling any Elsevier titles....[W]e invited faculty members in the sciences divisions to a meeting on Monday, Nov. 10th. At that meeting, we shared the details of the contract and we presented three options including to stay as a participant within the deal, and we explained that by not participating we would not have electronic access to the Elsevier titles we purchased in print. It was a small group, but they were all in agreement, giving up electronic access and access to a significant number of journals that many of them used was a sacrifice that needed to be made and one that they supported."
* Rumblings (institutions contemplating action)
Columbia University: Megan Greenwell, CU Senate Postpones Resolution Yet Again, Columbian Spectator, March 1, 2004.
Also see the web site on the problem and solutions created by the Columbia Health Sciences Library.
San Jose State University: See Claudia Plascencia, Academic journals to be sacrificed in library cuts, San Jose State University Spartan Daily, March 24, 2004.
University of Iowa: See Kristen Schorsch, UI libraries brace for cuts, Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 2, 2003.
University of Oregon: Chuck Slothower, University Libraries to cut several serial subscriptions, Oregon Daily Emerald, February 21, 2004. A plan to cancel more than 300 titles in May, and a call for faculty input on the titles to be cut.
* General news stories on more than one university action
Nigel Hawkes, Boycott 'greedy' journal publishers, say scientists, The Times, November 10, 2003.
Paula Hane, Cornell and Other University Libraries to Cancel Elsevier Titles, Information Today, November 17, 2003.
Dan Carnevale, Libraries With Tight Budgets Renew Complaints About Elsevier's Online Pricing, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 19, 2003.
Susan Mayor, US universities review subscriptions to journal "package deals" as costs rise, BMJ, January 10, 2004.
Andrew Porter, Has Reed's Mr 10% lost his golden touch? Fears over growth at Crispin Davis's empire, London Times, January 12, 2004. On troubles at Elsevier including the library cancellations.
Bobby Pickering, Elsevier hits back at journal cuts, Information World Review, January 12, 2003.
Christopher A. Reed, Just Say No to Exploitative Publishers of Science Journals, Chronicle of Hgher Education, February 20, 2004.
Owen Dyer, US universities threaten to cancel subscriptions to Elsevier journals, BMJ, March 6, 2004.
Charles Burress, The staggering price of world's best research, San Francisco Chronicle, March 28, 2004.
Randy Reichardt, Cancellation of Elsevier Packages at Cornell, MIT, Harvard, etc. - Commentaries, posting to the STLQ (Sci-Tech Library Question) blog.
* Postscript. Because the pricing crisis could be solved by affordable prices, without open access, it is only obliquely connected to open access. However, as the public statements show, a growing number of universities see open access as part of any long-term, sustainable alternative to the current journal system. That's the primary connection between the pricing crisis and OA.
But here are two other connections that are often overlooked. Scholars can launch OA *journals* whenever they have the means and the will. They needn't ask conventional publishers to convert. Scholars can always deposit their preprints, and can usually deposit their postprints, in OA *archives* even while publishing in conventional subscription-based journals, even in the most expensive ones. These two paths to OA show that we needn't solve the pricing crisis first and work on OA second. On the contrary, providing OA to more and more of our research now is the most direct and effective way to advance OA. It also happens to be part of any comprehensive assault on the pricing problem.
The primary reason for researchers to provide OA to their own work is to enlarge their audience and increase their impact. This may have only a remote and indirect connection to journal prices. We should provide OA to our work in order to advance knowledge, advance our careers, and advance OA. Solving the pricing problem is terribly important, but building an effective OA alternative is the best solution, even if it's done without regard for its effect on prices.
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