Russell Group universities paid an average of nearly £4 million to publishers for subscriptions to academic journals in 2017, according to data sourced through Freedom of Information Requests.
Research website Iris.ai sent a series of Freedom of Information Requests to Russell Group Universities, which were detailed in a press release sent to Wessex Scene. Examination of the data they received found that, in addition to the £3,950,000 average cost of journal subscriptions in 2017, fees have risen by 19% in real terms over the last six years.
Of the £3,950,000 that the 24 Russell Group institutions, including the University of Southampton, spent on average last year, 52% of this went to five of the largest academic publishing houses: Reed-Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, Taylor & Francis and Sage.
Iris.ai also requested details of the costs universities paid for journals in 2000 and 1980. The supplied figures showed that the average costs of journals has tripled between 2000 and 2017, despite a cumulative inflation rate of less than 60 percent between the two years.
The only institution able to supply data for 1980 was the University of Glasgow – which paid £180,000 for all of the subscriptions it held. In 2017, the institution paid a total exceeding £3.8m.
Iris.ai is also launching an appeal to promote open access research over subscription based fee paying journals.