One major reason why the journal price problem has reached its current dire state is that the publishing system works to isolate scholars, who are on the contributing end of the process, from the costs borne by libraries, who are on the purchasing end. While it would be unrealistic for the library to ask faculty to make article placement decisions based solely on publishers' business practices, we do encourage you to become more aware of the costs of journals in your field, and to consider avoiding publishers who charge excessively high prices.

How can you do this?

  • Check the list price of individual titles: In many cases, it is difficult for us to tell you exactly what we pay for journal subscriptions, since the publishers with the highest-priced titles are often also the ones who most aggressively pursue bundling arrangements, whereby the library purchases groups of titles for a large lump fee. You can, however, get an accurate idea of relative journal costs by looking at publishers' list prices. You can look up individual titles using Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (this is a subscription database, so off-campus access requires NetID authentication).
  • Talk to your departmental librarian: This is the person who is having to make the difficult decisions of which titles in your area to retain or cancel, and thus he or she is acutely aware of price trends. Here is a directory of the U of Illinois Departmental Libraries that lists the personnel in each library.
  • Let publishers know what you think: Publishers are utterly dependent on scholars; it is your work and research that they package and sell. Let them know what you think about their pricing policies. 
  • Let your scholarly society know what you think: Many scholarly societies are publishers, too, or have made deals with commercial publishers to publish their journals. Keep an eye on the Library (institutional) cost of subscriptions and let your society know what you think of their pricing policies. Often subscriptions to the smaller society journals are in the most jeopardy of being cut during journal cancellations, since they are frequently not protected under the no-cancellation terms of a major publisher's " Big Deal".