New review highlights need for more research into journal publishing

Added by Sarah on 03 October 2006 17:09

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A review of the operation and costs of scholarly journal publishing for the UK has found that we have only a limited knowledge of how the journal market is currently operating, according to a report.

News release - 3 October 2006

Effective communication of the results of research is crucial to the success of the UK research base, which is one of the most productive in the world. The review was commissioned in order to provide a baseline of evidence for policies to promote a world-class scholarly communications system to support the work of UK researchers.

There are some 200,000 full-time researchers in the UK, and as authors and readers they are interested in the articles published in most of the 20-25,000 scholarly journals published worldwide. But the report finds that we know remarkably little about who buys the journals and how much they pay for them, especially outside the higher education sector. Nor do we have reliable or consistent information about the costs that researchers and publishers incur in producing journal articles.

Researchers have enjoyed improvements in access to journals as a result of their now being published increasingly in digital form, but half of all researchers, especially in interdisciplinary areas, find problems in securing access to the content they need. And we know very little indeed about how researchers actually access and use journal articles. So the report both identifies what we do know, but also points to key gaps in our knowledge, where further research is needed.

The report was prepared by Electronic Publishing Services Ltd (EPS) in association with the Department of Information Studies at Loughborough University. A RIN workshop to discuss the findings, with perspectives from researchers, publishers and librarians, will be held in London on 14 November.

The fundamentals of the ways in which the scholarly journals business operated, and the roles that the key groups of players performed, changed little for over three hundred years after the first journals were published in 1665.  But the internet has brought new ways of communication between researchers, and challenged inherited assumptions about the roles of researchers, research funders, publishers, and librarians.  Today’s report provides an authoritative snapshot of the current state of journal publishing, and supplies policy-makers with the best available evidence on which to base decisions for the future.

Professor Jeffrey Aronson, President-elect of the British Pharmacological Society and Chair of the Expert Panel that oversaw the study, said: “We hope that this report, which we believe is a thorough and balanced view of the current evidence base, will guide future debate and research in this area. We are sure that the output will be a useful tool for all stakeholders focused on improving scholarly communications in the UK.”

Speaking on behalf of RCUK, Professor Ian Diamond, chair of the partnership?s Executive Group, commented: ‘The Research Councils are committed to working with all stakeholders in the scholarly publishing sector to ensure that the UK continues to have a sustainable system in place. The success of UK science is built on a heritage of scientific dissemination and discussion. High-quality science in this country requires the highest quality publishing system. The Research Councils welcome this report as providing the important baseline data that we can make future policy decisions on.’

The report is available at…


Research Information Network: Sarah Gentleman, Communications Officer, Tel: 020 7412 7241, email:

Research Councils UK: Matt Goode, Press Office, Tel: 01793 413299, email:

Department of Trade and Industry: Rebecca Underhill, Senior Press Officer, Tel: 020 7215 6403 email:

Electronic Publishing Services: Nicola Foster, Sales & Marketing Manager, Tel: 0207 837 3345, email:


Notes to editors:

The study was commissioned by DTI, RIN and RCUK in late 2005 to thoroughly review data relating to the operation and costs of scholarly journal publishing, with an emphasis on data concerning the UK.
The half-day workshop in London on 14 November will present and explain key lessons from the report and is being organised by RIN. RIN welcome attendees from all perspectives, with a view to creating a plan of action for how such issues might be addressed in practice.

In order to ensure that the results of the study should be as authoritative as possible, the sponsors put together an expert panel of representatives of each of the main groups of stakeholders. We gave to them the collective and collaborative role of rigorously questioning and checking the data and the conclusions presented to them. This report therefore presents results that have been subject to rigorous scrutiny by representatives of the research, publishing and library communities, as well as by the sponsors. This is the first time that such an approach has been adopted in work of this kind, and we are confident that the results will be accepted as an authoritative account of the current state of knowledge about scholarly journal publishing in the UK.

About Research Information Network:
The RIN is an independent organisation, established and funded for an initial three year period from mid-2005 by a consortium of the four Higher Education funding bodies, the three UK National Libraries and the eight Research Councils. Its mission is to lead and co-ordinate new developments in the collaborative provision of research information for the benefit of researchers in the UK. The key role of the RIN is give the strategic leadership of required to establish a national framework for research information provision, and to generate effective and sustainable arrangements for meeting the information needs of the professional research community.

About Research Councils UK: Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the partnership between the UK’s eight Research Councils. Through RCUK, the Research Councils work together to champion the research, training and innovation they support. The Research Councils are incorporated by Royal Charter and together manage a research budget of over £2.5 billion a year.The partnership is led by the RCUK Executive Group, which meets monthly and comprises the chief executives of the eight Research Councils. The Group is currently chaired by Professor Ian Diamond, Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council.

About Department of Trade and Industry: The Department for Trade and Industry works to create the conditions for business success and help the UK respond to the challenge of globalisation. Its strategic objectives are to support successful business; to promote world class science and innovation; to ensure fair markets and to ensure secure, sustainable and affordable energy. The Office of Science and Innovation, within the DTI, is responsible for UK Science Policy and for funding basic research allocated via the Research Councils. It aims to maximise the contribution made by our science, engineering and technology skills and resources to the UK?s economic development, and to the quality of our lives.

About EPS: The report was prepared by Electronic Publishing Services Ltd in association with Professor Charles Oppenheim and the Library and Information Statistics Unit (LISU) at Loughborough University Department of Information Science (LUDIS). EPS provides informed market intelligence and trusted, confidential advice and consultancy to companies who create and manage information. They have over 20 years experience in strategic consultancy, custom market research and market intelligence in the world of digital information.  EPS is an Outsell, Inc company

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