SPARC interview with Tim Gowers. A short blurb below, full article here.
Next steps in the Open Access battle: Shining a light on journal pricing
In a recent blog post, Timothy Gowers discussed the state of Open Access two years after the Cost of Knowledge launched its boycott of Elsevier. The British mathematician and open access champion was initially buoyed by the response, but notes that the main problems, journal bundling and exorbitant prices, continue. As evidence, he points out that in 2013, Elsevier’s profit margin reached 39 percent.
If it is not possible to bring about rapid change to the current system, Gowers suggests the next best thing to do is to obtain as much information as possible about it. In his blog, Gowers chronicles his efforts to use freedom of information requests to uncover the price that institutions are paying annually for journal bundles – or, “Big Deals.” While Elsevier is not forthcoming and publishers insist on confidentiality clauses, he finds some universities are willing to share their total costs, which vary widely. Gowers maintains that without transparency, it can be difficult for customers to leverage the best deals.