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Big Publishers, Bigger Profits: How the Scholarly Community Lost the Control of its Journals

Vincent Larivière, Stefanie Haustein, Philippe Mongeon

Abstract


Despite holding the potential to liberate scholarly information, the digital era has, to the contrary, increased the control of a few for-profit publishers. While most journals in the print era were owned by academic institutions and scientific societies, the majority of scientific papers are currently published by five for-profit publishers, which often exhibit profit margins between 30%-40%. This paper documents the evolution of this consolidation over the last 40 years, discusses the peculiar economics of scholarly publishing, and reflects upon the role of publishers in today’s academe.

Keywords


scholarly publishing; academic libraries; open access; digital era

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