UCSF Journal Subscription Costs

Journals Cost How Much?!

2011 & 2012 Journal Cost Comparison

The average cost for a health sciences journal in 2012 was $1,693, and for a chemistry journal it was $4,227. Subscription costs that year increased by 6% on average for the lowest online tier; however, UCSF as an intensive research institution is in a higher tier and often sees much higher annual increases for online subscriptions.

This chart illustrates the sharp price increase for health science journals since 2000, as compared to the Consumer Price Index:

Health sciences journals increased by 114%. CPI increased by 31%

Unfortunately, library budgets haven't kept pace with these increases, and they represent an increasingly smaller percentage of university expenditures (pdf).The overall UCSF Library budget has been reduced by 36% since 2009, and some journal subscriptions and databases have been cancelled as a result.

The UCSF Library spends 85% of the collection budget on journal subscriptions (approximately 8,000), so when costs increase dramatically, cuts have to be made to keep up. The increases also hinder us from being able to add new subscriptions needed to support UCSF's teaching, research, and clinical care needs.

Journal subscriptions come in one of two ways:

  1. UC-wide publisher subscription packages, for which UCSF pays one amount for all journals in the package. Example are the American Chemical Society journals, Elsevier journals on ScienceDirect, Nature Publishing journals, and Wiley Online journals. UCSF subscribes to more than 7,500 journals in this category.
  2. Local subscriptions handled through a journal vendor or directly with the publisher. This category includes about 500 journals and it comprises 20% of the collection budget.

The costs presented here are for this second category only. The purpose of this cost comparison across two years is to share information with the UCSF community about the costs of journal subscriptions, and to demonstrate the collective effect of increases imposed by publishers. Despite cancelling the print component of more than 100 journal subscriptions in 2012 to keep up with a budget reduction, our costs still increased by3%.

See the data by:  Journal Title  |  Highest Cost  |  Highest Increase (PDF; log in to UCSF Box with MyAccess)

Want to Get Involved?

There are a number of ways for the UCSF community to engage in the scholarly publication process. Scholars and authors are an integral part of the publishing cycle. Your actions and your voice can have an impact.