& Sciences faculty face up to spiraling journal costs
cost of these four journals -- just the issues, not yearly
subscriptions -- totals $1,027.
cost of academic journal subscriptions is skyrocketing. The University
Library's budget for acquiring them is not.
discussion of the unhappy implications of those statements highlighted
the April 26 meeting of Arts & Sciences faculty, the last of the
semester. Faculty also heard a progress report from the chair
of the Virginia 2020 Commission on the Fine and Performing Arts.
officials presented the sobering statistics on journals. While
the Consumer Price Index rose 44 percent between 1986 and 1997,
the cost of scholarly journals rose by 169 percent, a disparity
attributed to the lack of competition for the journals' commercial
publishers. Meanwhile, state support for the library's acquisitions
budget has remained flat since 1994, in part due to the in-state
result is that the library is purchasing 7 percent fewer journal
titles than in 1986, but its expenditures
for the remaining titles are up 152 percent.
so expensive, we're talking about putting current journals in
our new Special Collections building," quipped Deputy University
Librarian Kendon Stubbs.
library staff and Steven Nock, a sociology professor who chairs
the University's Library Committee, made some recommendations.
First, they suggested that faculty retain their copyrights to
journal articles, or at least sign them over to journal publishers
for only a limited time. Currently, faculty write articles free
of charge; they are then reviewed by their peers for free, and
then the copyrights are assigned free of charge to journal publishers,
who sell the journals back to universities at inflated rates.
has already begun retaining his copyrights, and "no [publisher]
has balked at this idea," he said.
retaining the copyrights, faculty could still publish in the journals,
but then they could make the information available to the world
in less costly forums, perhaps Web sites.
& Sciences Dean Melvyn P. Leffler, a history professor, noted
that many in his field have withheld copyrights for years, but
it has no effect unless there are alternate outlets for publication.
they suggested that the University and faculty explore ways to
separate peer review and certification of articles from the process
of publication in a journal, perhaps by making the first publication
in a different forum altogether -- like the Web.
Peter W. Low said the idea is discussed every year at American
Association of Universities meetings, but goes nowhere. Any such
separation would have to be a concerted effort, he said, which
would raise potentially sticky antitrust concerns.
and most immediately, the committee called for the library system
to push document delivery or electronic access over retaining
print subscriptions whenever cost-effective and practical. The
library staff concurred, and requested that faculty consider such
options when making journal requests.
subscription to the monthly Journal of Comparative Neurology costs
$13,900 per year. The journal was re-shelved 52 times last year
meaning that it cost approximately $267 per use. Electronic access
is only $21.50 per article, a potential savings of $12,782.
electronic access does not always make sense. In some journals,
content does not always translate well into electronic or photocopied
formats. In other cases, complete hard copies are more cost-effective.
"This is not a problem that can be solved by throwing money
at it," Nock said.
long-term solution, University Librarian Karin Wittenborg said,
may be "to wrest back ownership of this intellectual property
from the journals.² In the short-term, the library's growing endowment
is enabling it to avoid "decimating" the collection.
She suggested adding a collection-endowment element to the amount
necessary to endow an academic chair, in order to support the
work of the professor holding it.
In his presentation, Robert Chapel said the Commission on the
Fine and Performing Arts is finalizing its report to President
John T. Casteen III. He warned that it is likely to include an
expensive list of recommendations. "Our needs are many, and
our wish list is long," he said.
he is optimistic. "I have yet to meet anybody at U.Va. who
thinks improving the arts is a bad idea," he said.
the effort has led to better communication between various arts
communities, which he hopes will continue with the establishment
of a University-wide arts board.
was inspired by his interactions with several institutions his
commission would like to use as benchmarks, places where "cultural
life is as valued as academic pursuits," he said.
closing remarks, Leffler said he was encouraged by this year's
faculty recruitment efforts, noting a few departments that had
struggled to attract quality applicants had done better.
need to make every effort now to retain the best people,"