Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More on the Max Planck cancellation of 1,200 Springer journals

Max Planck Society Dumps Springer Deal Over Pricing, Library Journal Academic Newswire, October 23, 2007.  Excerpt:

The Max Planck Society (MPS), a major German research organization, issued a strongly worded statement this week to announce it was cancelling access to Springer's online collection of journals over pricing. The cancellation will take effect as of December 31, 2007. MPS Vice President Kurt Mehlhorn said negotiations to extend the deal failed because, according to an MPS evaluation based on factors including usage and comparisons with other publishers, Springer was intent on charging "approximately double the price" the organization regarded as "reasonable." ...

The public announcement represents a rather extraordinary moment. While it's not at all uncommon for budget-pressured academic libraries to cancel or scale back their journal deals, the Max Planck Society is an extremely well-funded, world-leading research institution with more than 12,000 staff members, 9000 Ph.D. students, post-docs, guest scientists and researchers, and student assistants working in over 80 affiliated research institutes. To have their price point broken, MPS officials said, represents "a watershed" in how the Society would deal with "various globally-active scientific publishing houses." Open access advocate Peter Suber said the announcement was indeed big news. "For the combination of an affluent institution and large hit list," he told the LJ Academic Newswire, "the Max Planck cancellation may be unprecedented."

In a statement, MPS officials suggested the breakdown in negotiations with Springer was representative of "extreme price developments in the supply of information, as well as usage restrictions," and that scientific organizations throughout the world should "rethink" their information policies. "If publishers have the market power to effectively implement such prices and if legislators are unwilling to subject such inappropriate behavior to legal controls, the only way left open to science will be to take matters into their own hands."