How much does it cost to get a scientific paper?

The Backstory:  As it stands today,when one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides the funding for a scientific research project, and those results are published, they must be made freely available to public, within a set period of time.  The reasoning behind this requirement is that taxpayers funded everything about the research except for the final publication, and so they have already paid for access.

The Research Works Act (#RWA), HR 3699, is a bill in the House of Representatives that would roll back this requirement.  If it passes, taxpayers will most likely have to pay exorbitant fees for access to publicly-funded research.  I'll explain why in a moment.

The Research Works Act will harm science education because students and instructors at small colleges and community colleges generally lack access to scientific journals and we will no longer be able to afford to use scientific literature in our courses.


How much does it cost?

One commenter on a my earlier post about the effect on science education noted that students and others would still be able to purchase research articles if RWA passes.

I thought, dear readers, you might like to know what that privilege is likely to cost.


What does a personal subscription cost today?

Today, a one year personal subscription to Science costs $149 for a member and $75 for a student. A personal subscription for one year of Nature costs $199.  We subscribe to both and pay $350 a year for the privilege.

The problem is that working in science, and learning about science, requires looking at papers from multiple journals and multiple years from those journals.

Access to one journal is rarely sufficient.

Let's look at the subscription costs for some other journals.

Two other journals that I frequently use are Nature Genetics and Nature Biotechnology. These cost $225 per year and $250 per year, respectively.

Here are the yearly subscription costs for a few of the other Nature journals:

$503  Acta Pharmacologica Sinica
$586  American Journal of Hypertension
$319  Asian Journal of Andrology
$865  Bone Marrow Transplantation
$99    BoneKEy Reports
$474  British Dental Journal
$569  British Journal of Cancer
$542  Cancer Gene Therapy
$417  Cell Death and Differentiation
$417  Cell Research

At $865 per year, a personal subscription to the on-line only version, of Bone Marrow Transplantation would be hard for me to justify.  But then, I'm not an M.D.

Now, consider Nature has 91 publications, with many subscription costs over $300 per year for each journal. I've been told that library subscriptions are more costly than personal subscriptions.  Is it really that surprising that our libraries say no?


What do individual articles cost?

Could we get by with having students read individual articles?

I looked up the prices for individual articles from some of the journals that I use.

The table below shows the costs to purchase a single article from 14 different journals.


Screen Shot 2012-01-09 at 10.58.32 AM

Out the 14 journals, 9 of them charge $30 per article or more. I looked at multiple Nature journals since the prices for each journal subscription varied so widely.

Many times when we have students research a topic, we want them to look at multiple articles from multiple journals. Students might need to look at ten papers to complete an assignment.

We also tend to have students investigate different topics.  This means that we can't just give every student the same set of articles.  Each student needs to get multiple articles from multiple sources, and each article could cost $30-35 at today's prices.  Today, we can make do by having students stick to open access articles. RWA will kill that option.

If papers were priced more reasonably, like songs in iTunes, we instructors would find RWA less alarming.  But as it stands, if publishers charge the all articles with the prices they're using now, it will kill our ability to use the literature in the classroom.


More like this

PLoS is a bit different since authors pay for publication. I'm not sure how BMC works.

I left them out since the business models are so different.

Worse, the journals don't actually provide the content OR the proofing - all the experts are external, making the high costs bloody shocking. In the average paper I write, I cite ~ 25 publications, with a median cost of about $32 dollars. Luckily the university pay the charges, otherwise it would cost me approximately ~$800 per paper, which I give to them for free (as do all scientists) and will cost others about $32 to access!

I have just obtained a PhD and am now technically graduated and yet have a good number of papers to write. I am lucky the university I went to are kind enough to allow me to access papers I need, otherwise I simply could never afford to write my own papers!

There is something fundamentally wrong with this set up isn't there? George Monbiot and Ben Goldacre have written about this in the UK..…

I wrote my Congressman (John Lewis) making the same point. Everyone who cares about this should write to his or her Congressperson.

By Jung Choi (not verified) on 09 Jan 2012 #permalink

First of all, I must clarify some points made by Sandra in the original post. The NIH embargo period is 12 months. That means, any research funded in whole or even in part by the NIH after the 12 months must be made available for free. Within the 12 months, when fresh research is desired most, the user must pay for the article. OA advocates want to decrease the embargo to 0 months (free right away - they have introduced a bill over the past few years that would do this), while the RWA would abolish of the requirement to make any publication free after any certain period of time.

There, we have the ground rules.

That said, I still would like to know the percentage of student's or faculty that are paying the above mentioned rates. To my knowledge, access to journals is not a problem for the preponderance of folks in academia. Their institutions pay for access, and band together to use economies of scale to negotiate lower prices. See: California university system vs. Nature.

Community college should do the same. If there are specialty journals that you wish to subscribe to, by all means, please do.

I still don't understand the desire to ask taxpayers to fund your access to journals that were not created out of thin air. I fully concede the above commenter's points about the volunteer system that reduces costs, but since even non-profit publishers charge a fee, that should be a clear sign that profit is not superfluous. Any publicly traded entity has a 10-k on file to view their costs - I suggest you take a look at that. There is a real cost to produce journals. So the question is, who shall pay?

I would offer that the two models (author pays and user pays) are the two competing models. In one, the user pays for access to something that he or she desires. This community is very very small, very educated, and typically quite affluent. In an author pays model, it is the taxpayer that pays for the cost of the journal publication. It should really be called the taxpayer pays model. In that model, a grantee earmarks a couple of thousand dollars, money that could be used for research, and pays to create the article. The costs don't go down: if a large publisher had a profit margin of 5% last year, which is about average, your table again would still be too high for your liking I suppose. After all, ACS is the highest per article and they are a non-profit entity.

So as it appears that since the cost of publications are real and must be paid in order to ensure the veracity of science, who shall pay? I would say that the small, highly educated, affluent community should pay for access to their very specialized and technical journals, while the researchers should be able to use every last scarce penny towards conducting actual research on behalf of their taxpayer investors.

By Just saying (not verified) on 09 Jan 2012 #permalink

The gross price gouging of the journals is a big complaint of mine even just as a regular citizen. For example I was recently prescribed an SSRI and wanted to double check if there was any possibility of long term, irreversible harm. The doctor had told me know. I happen to know that doctors hand drugs out like candy these days and that there *is* actually a lot of de facto corruption and bias inserted by drug companies among the regular rank and file doctors. I was skeptical, even that I should really be being prescribed anything as I don't even agree that I am depressed - I went to the doctor for a problem related to bone deformation and walked away with a prescription for antidepressants (and dick all progress on the actual problem I went about)!

So I looked some stuff up on google scholar. Turns out that there IS a very substantial chance of permanent brain damage, in the several percent range at least and there isn't much research - just enough to know that the reassurances the drug companies had been giving everyone that it was oh-so rare were complete bullshit. Oh, and the papers explicitly stated that the vast majority of doctors are unaware of the fact, and are probably overprescribing as a result.

I am on an extremely small income (11 k per year) and had to pay more than 70 bucks just for 2 articles, plus if I had bought all the ones I wanted to see, it would have been way more obviously. It's the same problems as the banksters; the publishers just aren't doing any real work, they just get rich by abusing certain social norms etc.

It's sad in an open access discussion, one in which I was spoken for in the original post, I have my posts rejected here. Truly sad.

By Just saying (not verified) on 09 Jan 2012 #permalink

Dear Just saying: you're jumping to conclusions about being blocked.
I don't have much control over the spam filter. Sometimes comments get blocked that shouldn't be blocked. I don't check the comments regularly and I often don't know this has happened.

To address some of your points, you state that:

"In an author pays model, it is the taxpayer that pays for the cost of the journal publication."

This is correct. This is also true in the "user pays model." You just don't see the money trail as clearly.

In one case, grant money directly pays for access to journals and papers. I've used grant money to purchase access to a few of those $30 papers. In the other case, grant money goes to help libraries pay for subscriptions through a budget item called "indirect costs." At some Universities, these costs are almost equal to the $ amount requested for research.

It sounds you're not very familiar with higher education or high school for that matter, either. There are lots of college instructor and high school instructors, too, who use these resources.

You probably realize this, but small companies and non-profits need access to journal articles, too. These companies are not affluent, and are also challenged by the high cost of individual papers. The Research Works Act will hurt small businesses and non-profits, too, not just education.

Dear Just:

My last comment went to the spam filter, too. Apparently if comments are long the spam filter blocks them no matter where they originate.

As to some more of your points:

1. I agree that publishers should be able to earn a profit. I don't agree that the profit should be so large. Imagine if we have something like iTunes where we could pay a fair amount for each article and get them easily.

I disagree with the assertion that a large fraction of the people with an interest in reading original literature are affluent enough to pay $30 per paper.

2. You asked about the percentage of faculty or students who are paying the rates I cited. I say that those prices effectively prevent faculty and students from using newly published materials and the articles in certain groups of journals. The RWA would expand this problem even further.

3. You seem to think that researchers don't use grant money to access scientific literature. This is an incorrect assumption for the reasons I gave above.

Actually I'm quite familiar with how research is funded and how universities administer their funding. You say that taxpayer money pays the bills in a user fee model as well. While this may be true in some part (indirects don't cover an entire library's costs, other sources contribute), you may have noticed that in my arguments I'm keen to use the word efficient. It's signifies that the user fee model makes the best use of scarce resources. Why? Because each grantee pays directly with his or her own funds. You discriminate wisely what you need and what you don't. There's extremely little waste. If journals were free to you, how many more would you "subscribe" to? 5? 10? How do you think the cost of publishing would explode when their demand increases 5 or 10 fold? The author pays model is actually a pure giveaway to publishers. In a few years, it won't be a $3000 fee for the author. It'll be $5000, or $7000 just to print more journals that sit on bookshelves. In the end, tens of millions of dollars are shifted out of desperatly thin research budgets to pay for an enormous and artificial demand premium for journals.

And you claim that high school folks need access to free journal content from some of the above mentioned journals? I would love to see the numbers. And having worked at a small biotech startup, I can tell you access was not an issue, we paid for the few articles we needed. And non-profits? Many non-profits are the same entities that are serving as the evil publishers that you vilify (ACS is your largest offender in the original post! Are you claiming they're price gouging....themselves!?) How are the harmed? If they represent patients, again, all they have to do is direct their constituency to ask the publisher for free access.

It seems you don't actually know the entire landscape, instead just choose to cherry pick individual rates (that few people actually pay) and claim them as representative of some intellectually starved scholarly community.

You still haven't addressed the point about why a private product, even if based on publicly funded research, should be free. Be sure to quote the Bayh-Dole Act while you're at it. I'm interested to see how you remedy the two.

By Just saying (not verified) on 09 Jan 2012 #permalink

Dear Just:

You must have missed what I wrote.

I did not write that articles should be free. I did write that the current prices are unreasonably high.

I am concerned that all articles will be priced at $30 an article if RWA passes.

Were the journals to charge prices like $2-3 an article, we could, in good conscience, use them in student assignments. When they charge exorbitant prices like $30 an article, we cannot.

As to non-profits, if you look at the table, in general, the non-profits (ASM, AAAS, FASEB, and NAS) do charge less for their articles. ACS (the American Chemical Society) is an exception.

Sandra - why do you think articles can cost $3? If a publisher could, don't you think non-profits, who sell subscriptions to their own members, would meet this price point? Or don't you think another publisher would enter the market?

Of course, this is a self perpetuating dilemma: the community could stop submitting to Nature, Science, Cell, etc and drive down their costs, which would drive down the cost to subscribers. But everyone still submits to these choice few.

By Just saying (not verified) on 09 Jan 2012 #permalink

I started to write my explanation, but it looks like this will take another blog post. Look for more tomorrow.

@Just Saying:

"having worked at a small biotech startup, I can tell you access was not an issue, we paid for the few articles we needed."

Huh. Traditionally folks at small biotechs piggy back on university subscriptions - some of the folks there are still in universities, some have just left and still have a login, others still have friends there that give them access or pdfs. One thing I haven't seen is biotechs doing lots of R&D that only need a "few articles".


Your post really helped me to understand how much does it cost to get a scientific paper?. It has great details and yet it is easy to understand.
That's what i was looking for. I will definitely share it with others.

Thanks for sharing.


Yes Bob, we were able to still use MIT and Harvard logins for most of our things. Only rarely did we not have access to a journal subscription. But thank you for helping to discredit Sandra's claim that most biotechs don't have access to journals.

By Just Saying (not verified) on 10 Jan 2012 #permalink

I would love for someone to speak about the anticipated cost/demand increases that would be expected with an author pays model. It's certainly an expected economic shift. You can be sure that the open access fee charged by publishers will increase as their demand increases, until one day the research institutions will seek to put a cap on the amount that a PI can pay to publishers (putting downward pressure on the system).

I'd also like to hear folks's thought on why the non-profit publishers also are unable to meet your expectations, if big corporate publishers are to blame.

I would also like to see a rebuttal to the user-fee efficiency argument, perhaps rebutting the museum metaphor (often paid for by tax payers, but keeps operations going through a user fee system).

Also, some hard numbers on how many "individual articles" are purchased each year as a percent of total articles? How many people actually pay the prices listed above? My guess would be very few, but would love to see the data. It's a dynamic much like the individual market for health insurance - not many people actually pay those rates, but it's very hard on the ones that do. A solution (easier grouping together?) would be welcome.

These are all points at the heart of the matter, yet none have been addressed.

By Just saying (not verified) on 10 Jan 2012 #permalink

Dear Just,

It's true that the high cost of journal articles leads some people in biotech companies like you and hibob to justify using an under-the-table fashion to get papers by finding someone with login access to a university library.

You were lucky you could use your MIT and Harvard logins for this purpose.

Some people might argue that using library resources in this way sounds like stealing.

Sandra - like others in small biotech, we actually didn't have to steal anything. But it's clear you're not familiar with start-up science. BTW - I have a couple of other posts with some key considerations in this great debate. Would appreciate seeing them posted and responded to.

By Just saying (not verified) on 10 Jan 2012 #permalink

Wow, don't you guys have University Libraries in the US? In Australia it only costs $80 a year for an alumni, and you can access all the journals the Uni has.

There are about 1100 community colleges in the U.S. and about of the undergraduates in the U.S. attend one.

None of them have University libraries.


Alumni have access to journals in Australia? Iâve asked for just that in NZ over years and get told it's not done and that you can only access books this way. (With a lower status than other users. Keep meaning to check what the story is for Cambridge University alumni as an alternative to the local universities.)

One moreâsorry about the rain of commentsâthe initiative by the Wellcome Trust, the Max Planck Society and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute includes the idea of that publication is to be directly funded by research funders. I don't know if this initiative will fly, but the ideas they present are worth reading. (See link on my name; do follow this through to Frankâs post.)

(Sandra: Iâve a comment in moderation - I included a link in it, thatâll teach me!)


Yeah, there is some access, but not everything is available electronically - but everything is available if you actually go in to the library.

All of that said, I do agree that most journals are ridiculously expensive.

@justsaying Federally funded research is not a "private product." Currently, authors are required to deposit their manuscripts with pubmed central when they are accepted for publication. One year after journal publication, they are made available to the public in pubmed central. The journals are not required to do anything or give away anything, ever. Presumably, the one-year lag time between publication and open manuscripts go some way toward protecting subscriptions and journal sales, even though the industry would prefer eternal exclusive rights. (Unfortunately, I'd note that compliance with public access regulations is spotty on the part of authors, at least in my field.)

To me the question is, "Why do journals have exclusive distribution rights for information/work that the American taxpayer has paid millions of dollars for?" and "If research doesn't get into the hands of those who can benefit from it, then why do we fund it at all?"

@Grant & others: I tried adding you as a "trusted" commenter. Hopefully that will minimize the problems with getting caught in the spam filter.

@Jane - I would say we don't have an access problem in this country. When polled, journal access is never a cause for concern for researchers. Funding is.

Apparently you weren't around before the days of the NIH 12 month embargo was lobbied for and snuck into an appropriations bill a few years ago. PubMed is a publicly funded repository that only benefits researchers. The public could care less. Yet it was sold as "for the public." Since that time, has there been a surge in science or development? No.

Yes, the taxpayer funded the research. No argument. So should inventions, device or drugs that result from taxpayer investment be free as well? Same argument. But scientists would never agree to send a check to the US treasury for their royalties. Those are their patents. Yet, when it comes to journals, it's "everyone's" science.

The journals serve a role that costs money, as others have commented on here in this blog (other entries perhaps). The question is, who pays?

By Just Saying (not verified) on 10 Jan 2012 #permalink

Sandra: thank you. I like the idea Iâm "trusted" :-) (Actually my own blog commenting effectively works this way full-time; first-time commenters are effectively vetted, but it's really to avoid spam.)

NickE: I can't access anything electronically, which is what Iâd like. The libraries now only take some journals electronically, photocopies chew up time and money (and trees), and in any event I use PDF copies for future reference (writing up stuff, so I can key-word search the full text, etc.)

The link for my download costs article (see 4:49pm) is on my name.

@Just saying: I think the public uses PubMed more than you know.

It would be really interesting to see the web log data.

@Grant - I don't think the "trusted commenter" setting really works. Our infrastructure is going to ... well, you know.

yea i agree with you david it didnt make sense but reading thru the article it kinda makes sense

Answer to comment number 2 : BMC like PLoS is a gold open access publishing model. The author pays for the publication. The reader has the article for free.

@just saying I'm a member of the public. I care. I'm involved in mental health advocacy and use pubmed often. Many laypeople my field have pubmed email alerts to keep an eye on research developments. There's a major gap between research and clinical practice in the area of mental health I'm most interested in. I've been working in this area for several years, since well before the NIH public access policy was implemented.

You're just dead wrong that individuals don't purchase articles for $30/each. I do several times a month. I maintain membership in two professional societies to have access to their journals. I'm not publicly funded.

Research is NOT only of use to researchers. It is hugely important to practicing clinicians and "consumers." And yes, there has been progress in pubic understanding of mental health in recent years. Research DOES have an impact on public health. It should, and would, have more of an impact if federally funded research wasn't held hostage by journals. Taypayers paid for the research. It's theirs.

Your analogy to devices doesn't hold. The federally funded research those devices are based on should be available for free, not the devices themselves. Same with journals. No one expects them to give away free hardcopies. Their subscriptions are protected by the one-year embargo. That's more than fair.

Journals make remarkably little investment to produce their product, yet enjoy large returns. Deutsche Bank recently had this to say about Reed Elsevier:

"In justifying the margins earned, the publishers, REL included, point to the highly skilled nature of the staff they employ (to pre-vet submitted papers prior to the peer review process, the support they provide to the peer review panels, including modest stipends, the complex typesetting, printing and distribution activities, including Web publishing and hosting. REL employs around 7,000 peole in its Science business as a whole. REL also argues that the high margins reflect economies of scale and the very high levels of efficiency with which they operate.

We believe the publisher adds relatively little value to the publishing process. We are not attempting to dismiss what 7,000 people at REL do for a living. We are simply observing that if the process really were as complex, costly and value-added as the publishers protest that it is, 40% margins wouldn't be available." Read more here:…

I work at small liberal arts college. We do not have access to a wide range of articles including some top notch ones. Why? Cost. Articles that are available to the public are a life saver. Colleagues at community colleges also agree. We try to integrate research articles & reviews into our courses. Colleagues at public 4 year universities have similar issues.

When I was a postdoc, I would get requests from friends who moved to industry and did not have access to a number of journals. Why? Once again cost.

Content is king. The content is generated by the authors who tend to pay a fee of some sort to publish. Reviewers of the content are free. Some sort of staff is required but given how much of the work has shifted to the authors in the last two decades thanks to the digital revolution. Those cost savings have primarily increased the profit margins of companies like Elsevier.

By ponderingfool (not verified) on 12 Jan 2012 #permalink

@ponderingfool Exactly! I had to laugh at Elsevier's talk about "complex typesetting." They're not churning out Guttenberg Bibles. And web publishing and hosting is far less expensive than print. It's an industry that leverages taxpayer money and authors/reviewers who work for next-to-nothing to generate massive profits.


To start of lets all be clear on the fact that margins are not 5% but closer to or above 40% like Jane mentioned above, thats how a company like Elsevier can show over a Billion dollars in pure profits, mening not the turnover figure but the amount the company can take out and give to its owners after the costs of publishing(thats alot of money to do research for).

We also have to realise that publishing something in todays world does not require the creation of a physical item, the cost of giving someone a copy of an article doesn't cost more than the energy to transmit the information/bits, so the main cost of production is not in the distribution but the creation of the article which is mainly done by the researcher believe it or not, so the cost/benefit ratio will become better for every view and not worse as you seemed to be suggesting.

One of the real problems for increased competition is not the high cost of publishing but the researchers themselves who feel they have to publish in certain prestigious journals when alternatives do exist.

A viewer-pays model would be great if there were companies making money off of publishing their research but that is not what we have.
Justsaying you must realise that most people don't feel its right to first have to pay for something than be denied it and told to pay even more if you want access to it.

Everyone so far(I haven't read ALL the comments) seems to be forgetting that the PUBLIC, i.e. the taxpayer, i.e., me, is paying (in some part) for the research. Therefore, why I am not able to view the output from this research without paying exorbitant fees? How can anyone ignore those who may not have the credentials but have an avid interest in new knowledge?

Hi Sandra,

I'm the CIO of a startup accelerator (Blueseed), and one of the startups that applied to us, RockYourPaper, is working on reducing the cost of acquiring scientific journals from $30 to $5. You can find a presentation video of their idea if you search YouTube for "Rock your paper".

I'd be curious to see your thoughts.

By Dan Dascalescu (not verified) on 15 Sep 2012 #permalink

I wanted to say a few things here (1). I am on an IPad so please acknowledge the greatest enemy is autocorrect.
(2). As far as the other is concerned I agree completely with Sandra the journals are overpriced and why can't they just be cheap online copies. If the publishing cost was so high then post it online. You could merely charge users access for the site like $20/year and libraries would be like $150. That would be what normal magazines cost and because the journal doesn't even pay for the workers to research they make a reasonable rate of return.
(3). End-user pp should be reasonable because what Just is saying makes no sense. I mean do you live in America? How many ppl have Science bachelor degrees who need to be kept in the loop while looking for a job or to get into a masters program?

(4). I cannot fathom Justs pov at all, I am trying to be understanding here it is just IMO I can find no common ground with what he says.
(5). Even if we want to continue to print magazines and get subscriptions (how oddly unscientific what a quagmire?) why don't they make the prices accessible to govt organizations (libraries) so we can all go and look at them in the library? I have to say I have read some peer-reviewed things about triclosan and alcohol that should be public it is borderline endangering there health when it is vindictively bio accumulating in fats and nobody knows what it will do.
(6). Beyond that what about the issue of science that came out about H5N1 recently? Should the public not know about that? Yet we have the darn Susan G. Komen foundation probably laundering money away from everyone. We all seem to know that "91 cents of every dollar" goes to research and we don't see enough return on that money in terms of real effective treatment of IDC do we? You're question is why is that relevant right? I will tell you because the avg person wants to see these findings in the dang journals (if there was no interest most people wouldn't care. They would just donate to a bunch of random charities and say "well I hope dem doctors gotz a clue."

I mean without scrutiny BC research so panties would be like yeah we are making progress which we are already in danger of having yet you would go further away huh? I feel like I am a smart guy but if you think you can look at some study determine its CI, "bias" coviartes and a few more things then say the data is valid I say bullspoo. The more people looking into these things the better IMO there is always someone smarter than you and we need to have them at least hAve a fighting chance to come to the table no? My friends who are doctors are always telling me they don't know what they can trust.

Would it not be better to have more people challenge Dr. Potti's findings earlier on and potentially save money, time, and lives?
It just seems wrong in such a fundamental way that I don't think I could ever agree.

Let me finish by saying something probably even more controversial here. the problems we face as both a nation and a world can be solved, it takes people to do that. Forget this overcrowding crap, we need ideas that can change the world and help us proceed. We are throwing away food at record pace around the world so don't say that we will starve. It is a matter of combating these kind of problems with many brains and if we do overpopulated the planet then somebody will get the idea to make extra-terrestrial settling work. If memory serves it was Linus Pauling who said, "If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas.". Who better to have ideas then the public instead of behind closed doors in overpriced journals written in a language that is "dead,". Are we not causing our own harm?

By @agreewithsandra (not verified) on 11 Oct 2012 #permalink

As the stereotypical broke science-major college student, I can personally attest to the utter frustration of over-priced journal articles. I go to a small college (pop. 800) with only minimal research with grants that only come every blue moon; occasionally some random alumni makes it rich and donates money -- but that only goes to random, useless sculptures built outside of the library. The point is, my school has little money for the library to purchase journal subscriptions and, even then, only the bare-bones subscription; if any of my professors want us to read a specific article, they have to procure a personal subscription for the journal out of their own pocket.

As a science-major I spend a ridiculous amount of time writing research papers for my classes and the only acceptable sources are peer-reviewed journal articles...which I don't have ready access to. Sure, there are some articles that are tangentially related to the topic of whatever paper I'm writing at the time but they are usually fairly useless. The articles that would be perfect? Those would cost me, personally, between $30 and $50 an article. I would spend that kind of money on the twenty or so articles I need but, I kind of like eating every now and then.

So, Just Saying, please, remove your rose-colored glasses and join the rest of the world. The majority of those who want/need to read those over-priced articles don't have the money to purchase them or have access to someone who does. Also, people aren't interested in what they have to pay ridiculous prices to access; more people would interested in research journal articles if they didn't require the sacrifice of grocery, utility, or car bill payments. So, Just Saying, until you're praying that the kid who just walked out of the cafeteria not only won't eat all of his rice (because you don't dare hope for the chicken) but would also be willing to give you said leftover rice, you don't get to argue back.


By Penniless Undergrad (not verified) on 31 Oct 2012 #permalink

interesting article, thanks!

I've just bumped into it now. I know it's been a while and I've only read the comments superficially, but have two things to say:

@Sandra - BMC works as PLoS: the author pays for the articles to be published, then the article is immediately made freely available (I worked there)

@Just: in response to your comment "How do you think the cost of publishing would explode when their demand increases 5 or 10 fold? The author pays model is actually a pure giveaway to publishers. In a few years, it won’t be a $3000 fee for the author. It’ll be $5000, or $7000 just to print more journals that sit on bookshelves."

most, if not all, Open Access journals are actually online, which means an increase in demand won´t make the prices go up. In any case, it might make them go down, if e.g. higher visits to their sites can bring them more money from advertisers, etc. (I don't know this, just a guess)