Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More on the 2004 Cornell calculation

In discussing the vote at the University of Maryland, Philip Davis makes this claim:

...Institutions like the University of Maryland would pay much more under an author-pays model, as would most research-intensive universities...


  • Davis' link points to a Cornell study he authored in December 2004.  The study calculated the costs to universities in a hypothetical world in which all peer-reviewed journals converted to OA, all charged publication fees, and all fees were paid by universities. 
  • We don't live in that world, and current trends suggest that we won't live in it even if all peer-reviewed journals do convert to OA.  We didn't know in December 2004 that most OA journals charge no publication fees at all.  But we know it now.  Less than a year after the Cornell study, Kaufman and Wills discovered that 53% of surveyed OA journals were no-fee.  In November 2007, Caroline Sutton and I found that 83% of society-published OA journals were no-fee.  In December 2007, Bill Hooker's survey of all full-OA journals in the DOAJ found that 67% were no-fee. In March 2008, Heather Morrison found that 90% of the psychology journals listed in the DOAJ were no-fee.  (BTW, by chance, and with a different provocation, Bill Hooker recaps much of this information in his own post today.)
  • Moreover, the RCUK study completed late last year, but released just last week, showed that 45% of the fees charged by fee-based OA journals are paid by funding agencies. 
  • The Cornell calculation used false assumptions about how many journals would charge fees and how many fees would be left to universities for payment.  We now have the data to show it.  For more detail on the methodological flaws of the Cornell calculation, even before some of the recent data emerged, see my article from June 2006.  Rather than continue to cite the Cornell calculation, as a picture of our future, we need to redo it in light of newer and better information.