Minutes - Feb 10, 2005

Date of Meeting: 

Thursday, February 10, 2005

10:00 to 11:30 a.m.


Frank Abboud, Scott Bounds, Joe Cannon, Michael Chibnik, Ben Darbro, Karen Farris, Jim Giblin, Boyd Knosp, Johna Leddy, Michael Mackey, Teresa Mangum, Imran Pirwani, Cheryl Reardon, Jay Semel, Alan Sener, Mark Sidel, Scott Stuart, Michael Wichman


Nancy Baker & Ed Shreeves

Increasing costs of scholarly journals and publications

Nancy Baker and Ed Shreeves discussed concerns about the increasing costs of scholarly journals and publications.  This is a national trend, where the cost of scholarly publications is rising at a faster rate than the consumer price index.  A chart related to the Monograph and Serial Costs (from ARL Libraries) 1986-2003 was provided to council members.  One reason for the price increase is the substantial cost of scientific journals.  Another reason is the affect of buying arrangements on acquisition budgets.  In the case of The University of Iowa, our library has entered into an agreement with other institutions as part of a package deal with publishers.  If institutions pull out of these arrangements, prices go up and access to publications decreases.  Monographs are also suffering because libraries cannot afford books.  This also impacts university presses since the libraries are their main customers.  Libraries with weak acquisition budgets have a difficult time purchasing the monographs.

Baker and Shreeves continued the discussion by highlighting strategies that other institutions have implemented.  These include:

  • pooling money to create competition, with the goal of affecting the marketplace (e.g. Spark, letters, etc.).
  • challenging publishing mergers.  Economic studies indicate that when numerous larger publishers buy out smaller publishers, the price of journals increases.
  • raising awareness of the issues by speaking with faculty groups.  Some faculty who sit on editorial boards are starting to question the pricing policy or are resorting to starting new editorial boards.  Other faculty have chosen to publish in only journals that are responsible with regard to fair pricing.
  • encouraging faculty to manage their intellectual property (IP) differently.  It's common practice for faculty to sign away all or most IP rights to publishers.  Some faculty are negotiating with publishers so that they have some flexibility with regard to IP.
  • encouraging faculty to negotiate their contracts with publishing companies.  Some institutions have created standard language related to publication agreement language that has been approved by legal counsel and is posted on a public website.  Faculty at these institutions use this tool when negotiating with publishers.
  • making available more open access journals (currently there are ~1000 available).  Open access journals allow the reader to access the journals free of charge.  This is in contrast to the traditional model, since someone other than the reader pays for the cost of publication. 

Several points emerged from the discussion with Research Council.  These include:

  • a sense that the idea of an institutional repository attracts real support (including support from council members in quite different academic fields);
  • enthusiasm for readily available, web-based help for faculty regarding issues to address in contracts and licensing agreements with journals and publishers (and alternative sample language);
  • a strong interest within the council to continue this discussion, hopefully on an annual basis, and certainly at some point after Meredith Hay arrives as VPR. 

Reardon provided Research Council with a summary of the Fall 2004 internal funding programs.  Five programs were run, including BSFP, MPSFP, SSFP, CSRIG and IREU.  A total of 44 proposals were funded out of 100 applications.  The total dollar amount awarded for the five programs was $822K.  Charts were provided to Research Council members, which provided a breakdown by program regarding number of applications, number of awards, and dollar amounts per program and academic rank.  General comments from council members evolved around more visibility for program awardees (perhaps a new page on the OVPR website reviewing the purpose of each program and eligibility requirements.  Fiscal year 2006 IFI programs will be on a future Research Council agenda.

Meeting adjourned at 11:30 PM.