Reports & Publications

Thursday 01 April 2004

What do societies do with their publishing surpluses? ALPSP and Blackwell Survey 2004

Christine Baldwin, Information Design and Management
ISBN: 0-907341-27-6 / 978-0-907341-27-7

Download free of charge: What do societies do with their publishing surpluses? 

At least 1/3 of journals are published by learned societies and professional ssociations, who are obliged to use their publishing surpluses for the benefit of their communities; however, in recent debates about publishing there has been little information about what they actually do with the money. 154 such publishers around the world were approached to obtain some hard evidence. Of the 68 respondents, half did their own publishing, and half via a third party. Only 2/3 made any publishing surplus, and the median surplus was just 15%, representing median 20% - 30% of total society revenues.

This money was used to support three areas:

  • The subject community as a whole (lower conference fees, bursaries to attend meetings, research grants)
  • Public education
  • The society and its membership (free or discounted journals, lower membership dues, and organisational running costs)

All of these would suffer if surpluses decreased in future (for example, through being 'squeezed out' by larger publishers' Big Deals, or by a change of business model).


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