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Library savings with full flip to OA via article processing could be two-thirds, or more

Based on data supplied by Mark Ware in the recently released STM 
report, An Overview of Scientific and Scholarly Journal 
Publishing, my calculation is that a full flip from subscriptions 
to full OA via article processing fees at the PLoS One rate of 
$1,350, would be 64% - about two-thirds.

In brief, dividing the $8 billion annual STM revenue as reported 
by Ware with the 1.5 million total article production per year, 
we arrive at a total of $5,333 average STM revenue per scholarly 
article produced (that's ALL articles, not just STM articles). 
Compare this with the PLoS One rate of $1,350 per article!  PLoS 
One is four times as affordable.

Factoring in Ware's report that the library share of this revenue 
is about 70%, we get savings of 64%, or two thirds.  At the 
slightly higher BMC standard APF rate of $1,535, library savings 
would still be 60%.

There are many limitations to this brief study.  It is important 
to note that the majority of OA journals do NOT charge article 
processing fees.  This data is provided just as an illustration 
of how cost- effective open access can be.

Most of the limitations of this study tend to underestimate cost 
savings for libraries with a flip to OA.  For example, non-STM 
revenue is not taken into account; assuming more than $8 billion 
in revenue now, the cost savings for libraries would increase. 
Also, non-library sources for article processing fees, such as 
authors able to tap into research funding grants, is not taken 
into account.

This is not to say that libraries can afford just any article 
processing fees.  While there are still savings at an average of 
$3,000 per article as some publishers charge, the two-thirds 
savings depends on supporting affordable publishers.

For more details and links to figures:

Happy Open Access Week!

Heather Morrison, MLIS
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics