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

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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.

This content has been updated on May 5th, 2017 at 14 h 51 min.