Mathias Dewatripont, Jean-Pierre Devroey, Pierre Dubois, Jéroöme Foncel, Victor Ginsburgh, Marc Ivaldi, Dominique Heusse, Patrick Legros, Françoise Verdooren, Alexis Walckiers
Final Report - Commissioned by Dg-Research, European Commission, January 2006
Publication year: 2006

Dissemination and access to research results is a pillar in the development of the European Research Area. Aware of current public debates that reveal worries about the conditions of access and dissemination of scientific publica- tions, the European Commission’s Directorate- General for Research has commissioned a study that seeks: (i) to assess the evolution of the market for scientific publishing; and (ii) to discuss the potential desirability of European- level measures to help improve the conditions governing access to and the exchange, dissemination and archiving of scientific publications (taking into account all actors/ stakeholders of the sector).

The report builds on a voluminous existing literature. It therefore updates the “state of the art” in terms of reports, studies, surveys, and articles. It has also benefited from considerable interaction with various actors/stakeholders of the sector, policy bodies, corporate associations and interest groups. Discussion meetings took place as well as participation and exchange in scientific conferences and policy forums. Three ‘consultation days’ were also organized, where preliminary results were discussed with publisher representatives, scholarly societies, research-funding organizations, and library representatives.

The report considers the specificities of the market for current journal issues. In doing so, it discusses the broad facts about the market; it undertakes a quantitative analysis of journal prices; it discusses the implications of technological innovation on pricing strategies and the dynamics of entry; and it analyzes the implication of these developments in terms of competition policy.

It also discusses the various alternatives for disseminating and accessing scientific publica- tions. This includes the question of access to research results on individual web pages or in public repositories, the development of open- access journals as well as other alternatives, such as pay-per-view, the question of the long- term preservation of electronic publications and the use of standards to ensure interopera- bility between systems.

The attention of public decision makers is required for two reasons. First it is well-establi- shed that science has a key role in fostering economic growth, and because scientific journals are an essential means of disseminating new knowledge in the academic community but also beyond. Secondly, much of scientific activity is publicly funded: the output of research is typically not bought by journals but ‘donated’ by publicly-funded researchers; so are to a large extent refereeing services for the evaluation of research; and finally, journals are bought by publicly-funded researchers or, more often now, by publicly-funded libraries. It is therefore crucial for public authorities to form a view on the relative efficiency of the scientific publication process.