The cost of commercial scientific, technical, and medical journals has risen faster than inflation as publishers' profits soar, according to a September report by the British Office of Fair Trading.1 Yet, despite the report's conclusion that the profits have risen at the expense of education and research institutions, the British OFT, a consumer-protection agency that aims to ensure businesses operate fairly, concluded that free-market forces may eventually correct the journal market imbalance. "The market, which operates worldwide, has a number of features that suggest that competition may not be working effectively," says John Vickers, OFT director general, in a press statement. "However, market forces harnessing new technology may change this without the need for intervention."

The OFT report says that science, technology, and medical (STM) publishing showed 10% to 15% greater profitability over other commercial journal publishing with price increases above inflation, despite the introduction of electronic-delivery methods...

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