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RE: Taking Our Academic Medicine


You seem to asking for 2 different things.

First are some metrics on the comparative value per dollar of different
journals. I think Bergstrom and McAfee have provided such a service with a
spreadsheet that allows librarians (and publishers, funders, and authors)
to compare some price performance metrics across journals. If you don't
have it, the home page for their work is

You can get their data in Excel format here:

The second thing you seem to want is a relative breakdown of the revenue
streams (and presumably, the associated costs) to produce an article in
different journals. You claim that OA publishers are transparent in this
respect, while traditional publishers are not. I find no evidence for such
a claim. I have yet to see a transparent accounting of the true costs and
revenue for many OA journals--I suspect because it would quickly reveal
most of them to be unsustainable, absent a government bail out.

Peter Banks
Acting Vice President for Publications/Publisher
American Diabetes Association
Email: pbanks@diabetes.org

>>> matt@biomedcentral.com 11/16/05 5:43 PM >>>

I agree that this would be fascinating information, as it would give a
real sense of what was the 'overall cost to the community' of publishing
an article in one journal, versus another.

I too suggested this to the researchers - I think there's a consensus that
it would be interesting information, but it would also be very difficult
and labour intensive to figure out accurately.

Of course, that in itself is in a bit of an indictment of the current
system - the funders and the scientific community in general don't have a
clear sense of whether or not they are overpaying, because they can't
easily compare the value delivered by one journal in terms such as
'dollars per article' or 'dollars per article download' or 'dollars per
citation'. Transparency on these things is very much in the interests of
the scientific community, but not necessarily in the interests of
traditional publishers, some of whom may find the opacity convenient.

For article processing charge-based open access journals, it is of course
very easy to work out these figures.

Matt Cockerill
Publisher, BioMed Central