Opening the Black Box of Scholarly Communication Funding: A Public Data Infrastructure for Financial Flows in Academic Publishing

An important article on financial flows in scholarly publishing has been published in “Open Library of Humanities”,  here.  Its conclusion is worth quoting, because it pinpoints a common problem, which needs to be addressed.

In this article we have argued for the importance of a joined-up, systemic, publicly accessible picture of financial flows around academic publishing to inform evidence-based deliberation, policy and action to shape scholarly communication systems. We have proposed a provisional visual model for assessing the availability of information about these financial flows, taking journal publication in the UK as a case study. Our analysis of three broad types of flows in this model – institutional income, subscription payments, and APCs – highlights that there are still significant obstacles to obtaining the information that is needed to piece together a bigger picture. There is systemic opacity both within institutions as well as regarding the ‘black box’ of finances around scholarly communication in the UK as a whole. Just as we do not yet possess an accurate overview of how much the UK’s total APC expenditure is, institutions often lack aggregate figures of their total APC payments towards a given publisher across different departments. [emphasis added]