Ted Bergstrom 
Economics Department 
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Big Deals and No Big  Deals with Elsevier

European Economic Assn Disowns Elsevier's EER, and starts new JEEA
with MIT Press
EEA announcement

New Open Access Journal in Economics is launched (Aug 2005).
Theoretical Economics

Elsevier's profits
Check out  Morgan Stanley's research report

Who gets the loot?

More on executive pay


Weasel's Manual of Apologies  for 
Misbehaving Monopolists

Did you think politicians had a monopoly on meretricious arguments? 

The P.T. Barnum List

Would you believe that there are two economics journals that cost more than $8000 per year but  have almost no citations? Who are the libraries that subscribe to them?

The Parable of the Anarchists' annual meeting.

Why doesn't competition eliminate
excess profits in the journal industry?

Ted Bergstrom's 
Journal Pricing Page

My Papers  on Journal Pricing

This link includes papers that I have written or coauthored on journal pricing and a couple of responses from writers who disagreed with my views. 

Why are we doing free referee work for rogue  journals that skim huge profits from our research budgets and  restrict access to libraries at the richest universities?

For some years,  Preston McAfee and I have collected information on academic journal prices sold by commercial and by non-profit publishers.  This appears at www.journalprices.com The institutional prices  charged by  large commercial publishers average about 3 times as high per article or per citation as those charged by the non-profits.  Defenders of these pricing policies have maintained that our price listings are misleading because libraries do not pay the sticker price. Instead they get large discounts by buying bundled site licenses to a publishers' entire works. 

Together with Professor McAfee and Paul Courant of the University of Michigan, we set out to learn about the prices libraries pay for these
  bundled site licenses.  This was not easy, because these prices are individual to each university and are not made public.  Indeed many of the contracts have confidentiality clauses that prohibit librarians  from telling anyone what they paid.  Fortunately most states have  Freedom of Information laws that  overrule these clauses in contracts with state institutions. We requested copies from state universities by invoking these state open record acts.  We have collected and analyzed a large number of such contracts.
Paul Courant,  Preston McAfee, and Michael Williams and I have published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that reports and attempts to interpret what we found.  Here is a link to the paper.  The paper is published with a paywall, but PNAS gives me permission to post a link to it on my own website, provided I also supply a link to the PNAS posting.  So here is that.  Tables containing most of the data used in the paper are available without a paywall at this link.

 Here are links to news stories about this article  from  Science Nature,  The Scientist, and  The Guardian.   

  Profiles in Sycophancy (a digression)  
               Nobody here but us weasels.ucsb seal           

Evidently not everyone at my university (UCSB) thought this news fit to print.  The  UCSB public affairs office asked me for  some material to quote in a publicity release. Their office sent me what I thought was a poorly written "first draft" of a story on our paper.   To help them out, I  wrote this short summary of what the paper is about.
They  responded as follows.   Perhaps injudiciously, I responded  with a message that invokes the university's motto:   Fiat Lux (Let there be light.) 

I should have remembered the wise words of Homer Simpson...

"Marge, don't discourage the boy.   Weaseling out of things is important to learn.    Its what separates us from the animals...except the weasel."


Data on  Economics  Journal Prices                          

Elizabeth Dhuey and I   have   updated my data on prices per page and per citation for  about 300 economics journals.  The data is now available for 2004 as well as for 1999.  We also have collected some data on prices and values of physics journals.   

  • Databases on prices and citations in all disciplines
    • Journalprices.com     Preston McAfee and I maintain a database that records  price per article,   price per citation, and for-profit status of about 10,000 academic journals in all disciplines and classifies them  as "good, medium, or bad buys".
    • Eigenfactor.org  I have been working with Carl Bergstrom, Jevin West, and Ben Althauser of the University of Washington, using a Google-like algorithm  to construct recursively  weighted citation scores for more than 20,000 journals, newspapers, and other media. 
    Will the problem of overpriced commercial journals be less severe, as  we move from print access  to electronic journals?  What should the role of university libraries be in all this? 

    I have pointed out before that by far the most expensive journals in economics are two journals published by Emerald Press.  See my discussion of the  P.T. Barnum List.  A librarian at Cornell has discovered some even more remarkable wool that this publisher has been able to pull over gullible eyes.  

    Some professional societies whose journals had been captured and overpriced by commercial publishers have broken away from these publishers and started new competing journals.   There is also a growing number of interesting new reasonably priced (and sometimes free) electronic journals. 
It is in your interest to put all of your papers on the web so that all can access them.  Some tips on how to do this.