The Economics of Journal Publishing


Case study: Ecology

Prices and publishers

Who publishes the top tier?

Cumulative plots

Estimating circulation

Journal numbers over time

Comparing other fields

Prices and publishers across disciplines

Cumulative plots across disciplines

Top science journals


Economics of ecology journals

Will open access be able to compete?

Costs and benefits of site licenses

Electronic subscriptions: A boon for whom?

Value and price by journal

Contact Information

Carl T. Bergstrom

Department of Biology
University of Washington
Box 351800
Seattle, WA 98195-1800

Ecology journals: Who publishes the top tier?

As we have seen, non-profit journals in ecology tend to be much cheaper per page than are for-profit journals. This is not because of a difference in quality, as measured by number of citations. A journal's impact factor, as measured by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), for a given year is defined as the total number of citations made in that year by any journal to articles published in this journal in the two previous years divided by the number of citable articles published in these two years. The table below lists the top 10 journals in ecology, ranked by impact factor, along with the price that libraries must pay per page and per citation.
Impact Price/page Price/cite
1. Ecological Monographs 6.213 $0.16 $0.02
2. American Naturalist 3.944 $0.37 $0.02
3. Global Change Biology 3.775 $0.77 $0.57
4. Ecology 3.650 $0.13 $0.02
5. Evolution 3.632 $0.11 $0.02
6. Ecological Applications 3.488 $0.10 $0.05
7. J. Animal Ecology 2.862 $0.49 $0.09
8. Conservation Biology 2.814 $0.20 $0.08
9. Molecular Ecology 2.769 $0.94 $0.60
10. Microbial Ecology 2.703 $0.95 $0.33

Bold type: Non-profit journals
Normal type: For-profit or jointly-produced journals

Five of the top six ecology journals are published by non-profit publishers, with low or relatively low costs-per-page. Four of the top ten are published jointly by a for-profit publisher and a non-profit society. Although journals entirely produced by for-profit publishers account for roughly half of the serials in the field of ecology, they are decidedly underrepresented in the top ten; of these journals only Molecular Ecology is published by a for-profit publisher without co-sponsorship from an academic society.

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Last modified September 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Carl T. Bergstrom