What’s to be done about academic journals?

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A lively debate has been generated amongst academics on both sides of the Atlantic following Harvard University’s decision to encourage academic staff to publish in open access journals because of the dramatic rise in the cost of journal subscriptions. This move was prompted by a memo sent out by Harvard University Library warning that it could no longer afford to pay for many commercially published journals.

Needless to say, this is a problem which also faces academic libraries in the UK and here in Cambridge the Journals Coordination Scheme set out to address the issue by pooling budgets and eliminating the duplication of subscriptions.  However, this alone cannot meet the annual price rises and so the RLUK, of which Cambridge University Library is a member, continues to make great efforts to negotiate price reductions through projects such as the Affordable Subscriptions for Periodicals Initiative (ASPI).
But what will happen in the future?  The situation as it stands is unsustainable, as John Naughton points out in his article in the Guardian, which includes a link to the campaigning website The Cost of Knowledge, which enables academics to register their objections to Elsevier.

If members of the academic community turn their backs on the big players like Elsevier, the world of academic journal publishing could be very different in a few years time – follow the progress of Open Access Publishing on this Cambridge University Library timeline ….