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Journal Publishers to Police Themselves

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

David Bradley

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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