I just received the latest institutional subscription fees from our librarian. He's expecting a lower budget for next year and looking to drop journals that are no longer relevant to our needs. When I noticed we were paying 20 times more for the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society ($4,950 from Wiley-Blackwell) than for Systematic Biology ($248 from Oxford Press) I thought it might be fun to plot the cost of 21 journals related to evolutionary biology against their impact factor. Turns out there's virtually no association between the importance of a journal and its cost (see simple linear regression in figure).
It doesn't take a genius to see that blood-sucking corporate publishers are taking advantage of us. Although this point has been made many times before (see also Jonathan Eisen's blog where academic publishing and open access journals are regular topics of conversation), I want my fellow phylogeneticists to know that we're being screwed particularly by Wiley-Blackwell, publisher of the three most expensive journals in our field (Molecular Ecology, $8,967, IF=5.169; Journal of Biogeography, $5,826, IF=3.539; Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, $4950.01, IF=2.368). In spite of their middling impact factors, all three of these journals are ridiculously expensive (see the "Wiley-Blackwell Zone" in the figure). Don't get me wrong, I like the science in these journals and have published in two of the three, but is it really worth it at those prices?
I know we're all under pressure to publish in places that get us attention (and hopefully tenure), but there's no time like the present economic crisis to start factoring a journal's fees into our decisions about where to submit. Perhaps you'll also think about the cost of these journals the next time you volunteer your time as a reviewer for a corporate publishing entity.
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