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

The top scientific journals

We have seen consistant differences between for-profit and non-profit journals. Do these trends hold generally, regardless of journal quality, or do they arise simply because a few low-quality (or high-quality, but highly-esoteric) for-profit journals make the commercial publishers look bad?

To address this question, we have examined the top 58 science journals, ranked by impact factor. Even among this cream of the crop, the familiar patterns reappear, though not as strongly in some cases.

We begin with a price versus pages scatter plot. The trend here is qualitatively similar but not as strong as what we have seen in the previous analyses. Once again non-profit journals tend to be cheaper per page.

[ Price vs. pages, top 58 science journals ]
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The cumulative citation graph is similar to those we have seen already, with a dramatic different in cost per citation even among this elite set of journals. As before, the non-profit journals cluster to the left (low cost-per-citation) and the for-profit journals cluster to the right (high cost-per-citation). However, as indicated by the cream bars at the far left of the cumulative plot, several for-profit journals offer extremely good value as measured by cost per citation. These include Nature, Cell, and Lancet.

[ Cumulative citations, top 58 science journals ]
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Last modified September 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Carl T. Bergstrom