[Open-access] Data expedition idea - scholarly publishing income

Cameron Neylon cn at cameronneylon.net
Thu Nov 21 16:24:26 UTC 2013

For PLOS, along with a lot of other non-profits you can get fairly detailed financial information. For US non-profits the Form 990 is required to be filed every year (you can get ones from PLOS at http://www.plos.org/about/what-is-plos/financials/ but you can get them for most organisations online) and for other countries there are often reporting requirements that mean info is available (although frequently they are paper records).

I'd support getting a good set of data together that looks across the publishing landscape.



[Full disclosure - I work for PLOS for anyone who doesn't know that]

On 21 Nov 2013, at 17:11, "Gerritsma, Wouter" <wouter.gerritsma at wur.nl> wrote:

> Hi Jenny
> You might include PLoS in this investigation as well http://www.nature.com/news/plos-profits-prompt-revamp-1.14205
> Wouter
> From: open-access [mailto:open-access-bounces at lists.okfn.org] On Behalf Of Jenny Molloy
> Sent: donderdag 21 november 2013 16:46
> To: open-science at lists.okfn.org; open-access at lists.okfn.org; school-of-data at lists.okfn.org
> Subject: [Open-access] Data expedition idea - scholarly publishing income
> Hi All
> I wondered about a potential collaboration between School of Data and the Open Science/Open Access working groups on a Data Expedition around scholarly publishers and their income.
> The bottom line is some make a lot of profit, much of it from public funding of higher education and research and possibly pay very little tax, but there's not been much exploration of this beyond some figures on profits which appear in blogs and a few articles and mostly in text and tables. 
> It would be great to try and draw a more comprehensive dataset together, visualise it and tell some stories. 
> Some figures:
> THE Summary: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/421672.article
> Full article: https://lra.le.ac.uk/handle/2381/9689
> From Mike Taylor http://svpow.com/2012/01/13/the-obscene-profits-of-commercial-scholarly-publishers/ :
> "Here they are again: profits as a percentage of revenue for commercial STM publishers in 2010 or early 2011:
> Elsevier: £724m on revenue of £2b — 36%
> Springer‘s Science+Business Media: £294m on revenue of £866m — 33.9%
> John Wiley & Sons: $106m on revenue of $253m — 42%
> Academic division of Informa plc: £47m on revenue of £145m — 32.4%"
> Similar figures are also in Heather Morrison's thesis:
> http://pages.cmns.sfu.ca/heather-morrison/chapter-two-scholarly-communication-in-crisis/
> A few questions:
> Do you think this is a suitable topic for exploration?
> What are the thoughts of those who have run data expeditions or spending stories type projects before? 
> Does anyone feel strongly about this and would like to coordinate the project?
> Would anyone like to help out? (could you host a workshop, are you organising an event or conference where this could run as a session, are you a data wrangler, visualisation expert, journalist, coder, accountant, researcher or anybody just interested in digging in?)
> Reply to the list and sign up on the pad if so!
> http://pad.okfn.org/p/scholarly-publishers-data-expedition
> Thanks very much :)
> Jenny
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