Open-access publishing, librarianship, quantitative literacy, Economics of publishing


Each fiscal year, as academic librarians throughout the United States prepare materials budgets, a national “groan” ensues. Regardless of their format (i.e. print or digital), serial subscription costs are escalating, in the process impacting the role of the library in advancing scholarly communication . This paper examines some of the economic issues concerning open-access (OA) journal publishing. The importance of quantitative literacy is suggested for librarians and academics seeking a better understanding of alternatives to traditional journal subscription models and to anyone considering ventures into OA publishing. Quantitative literacy is essential for managing alternatives to the rising cost of scholarly communication.

The OA movement is gaining traction at the national level, following mandates from the National Institutes of Health and at some large research universities that host institutional repositories. Science faculty has been engaged in scholarly communication OA models since the 1970s. More broadly, discussions in academe have focused on OA and its impact on peer review, promotion and tenure, intellectual property rights, and measures of institutional and faculty productivity. Studies concerning the OA movement’s economics are most commonly reported in academic librarianship literature, a trend that may serve as a barrier to a broader understanding of OA’s role in scholarly communication. This paper provides background information on the crisis in serials costs and suggests that metrics favor OA models publishing models. A concluding proposal concerning library-funded OA serial collections is offered as a catalyst for further discussions.



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