An Open Letter to All University Presidents and Provosts Concerning Increasingly Expensive Journals, reported on in the November 8 Library Journal Academic Newswire:
We recommend the following policies.
(i) Universities should assess overhead charges for the support services of editors working for journals that have basic library subscription rates of more than a threshold level of cost per measured unit of product.
(ii) University libraries should refrain from buying bundled packages from large commercial publishers and should set clear minimal standards of costeffectiveness for individual journals to which they subscribe.
…a university can readily say “expensive journals will pay overhead costs,” and individual professors report that fact to journals, as a matter of university policy.
This sounds good, but I’m not sure what incentive publishers would have to actually pay editors; what’s to prevent publishers from just firing their current editors & finding new ones? This is one of those situations where it’s everyone or no one: if everyone is charging publishers then it will work, & if not, not. The existence of “scabs” would make the whole proposition fall apart.
More interesting (to me at least), the authors of the open letter then write:
We have created a website that lists the price per article and the price per citation for about 5,000 academic journals.
We used this index to construct lists of journals that we believe represent poor value for university library subscription. Our criterion for a journal to be “overpriced” is that a weighted index of the cost per article and the cost per citation is more than two and a half times as large as the median index for non-profit journals in the same discipline.
This site: the Journal Cost-Effectiveness Search