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    • CommentRowNumber1.
    • CommentAuthorMark C. Wilson
    • CommentTimeMay 21st 2013

    I just posted this as a Google+ comment to a post by David Roberts. This issue has has bothered me for a while. The figures for my university are close to $10M annually for all serials, and we have about 2000 research active staff. That is an average of 125 articles per person per year, without considering any sharing, discounts, etc, not to mention the good effect it would have on unbundling. What am I missing?


    Has any university library given serious thought to just cutting all subscriptions and paying per article? Since abstracts are free to read, we can limit payment to articles people decide to read after that. Personally I can’t read more than 100 papers in any level of detail per year. And I would be happy to rent access to some (just to check theorem numbers, etc) because many will be freely available in SOME version on arXiv, personal webpages, etc. Even at the silly cost of $40 per article, that’s a lot of articles - 75000 per year from Elsevier, for example, at PSU. And maybe some article sharing is possible, once it has been bought. It doesn’t seem unreasonable, and would attack the bundling problem head-on.

    • CommentRowNumber2.
    • CommentAuthorAlexander Woo
    • CommentTimeMay 24th 2013
    1) Not only staff but also graduate students, and, in most fields, undergraduate students, read papers. (Certainly in my upper level undergraduate philosophy and music history courses, part or even most of our reading was photocopied journal articles and book chapters.)

    2) Mathematicians seem to read a lot fewer papers than scholars in most other disciplines. One sometimes hears about biologists reading (i.e. skimming the introduction and conclusions) several hundred papers a year.
    • CommentRowNumber3.
    • CommentAuthorBenoit Kloeckner
    • CommentTimeMay 27th 2013
    • (edited May 27th 2013 by Andrew Stacey)

    I would add that it may be difficult to determine if one is interested by an article from the abstract only, I often download articles only to close them after a quick look at what is meant by some word, or what is really proved in the main theorem.

    Moreover, the few numbers I have tend to indicate that we download much more article than what would be possible without subscription; I heard last week the amount of 5$ per download for Elsevier. In that library and with respect to that measure, it is the cheapest publisher but I do not think the average is likely to raise to several tens $ per download.

    • CommentRowNumber4.
    • CommentAuthorMark C. Wilson
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2013

    Perhaps this will be useful for you: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/06/academic-libraries/deepdyve-the-first-fives-free/ 5 minutes sounds like enough time to decide in many cases.