Dear Birkbeck, University of London,

For the years 2017, 2018, and 2019, please publish the total amount paid to each of the following publishers for academic journals:

Wiley
Springer*
Elsevier
Taylor & Francis
Sage
Oxford University Press
Cambridge University Press
Nature Publishing Group*
Royal Society of Chemistry
Institute of Physics Publishing

I understand that your expenditure records may be held in academic financial years rather than calendar years. If so, I am happy for the response to be provided in the same format, with figures for 2016/17, 2017/18, and 2018/19. (Although 2019 has not ended yet, my understanding is that payments for access to journals for 2019 are likely to have all been made by now.)

The figures should include payments made directly to the publishers as well as any payments made to subscription agents or intermediaries for the purchase of, and/or access to, the publishers' academic journals. They should also include payment for journal packages such as Jisc Collections agreements, as well as for individual journals. Please include VAT where possible, and indicate whether or not figures include VAT.

* Although Springer Nature is the parent company for these two publishers, my understanding is that Springer journals and Nature journals are still paid for separately, so I think it makes sense to regard these as two different publishers with different expenditure amounts.

Yours faithfully,

Stuart Lawson

Freedom of Information, Birkbeck, University of London

Dear Stuart Lawson,

This is to confirm receipt of your Freedom of Information enquiry. 

We will respond to your request for information by the due date of 21st October 2019.

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information
Birkbeck, University of London

www.bbk.ac.uk

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Freedom of Information, Birkbeck, University of London

Dear Stuart Lawson,

This is a response to your recent Freedom of Information (FOIA) request. I apologise for the delay you have experienced in receiving a response to your request.

I can confirm that Birkbeck does hold the information you have requested, but not in a form that would allow us to easily extract it for disclosure in response to your request. It would take longer than the 18 hour limit outlined in section 12 FOIA to produce the figures. Therefore, we are not obliged to respond to this request.

Once again, I apologise for the delay you experienced in this request.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you may wish to contact the Freedom of Information Office in the first instance to see whether your concerns can be resolved informally. You also have the right to request a formal internal review that will consider the way in which your request has been dealt with. Requests for an internal review should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original communication and should be addressed to [Birkbeck, University of London request email].

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information
Birkbeck College
London WC1E 7HX

www.bbk.ac.uk

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Dear Birkbeck, University of London,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Birkbeck, University of London's handling of my FOI request 'Academic journal costs'.

I believe that even if it would take too long to provide the full information, you should still provide some information. For some publishers, your library will most likely pay a single fee each year for access to a full journal collection. If so, these figures will not take long to obtain. Please note that you were able to provide figures for previous years, e.g. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a... and https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

For your information, almost all institutions in the UK were able to respond to my request, and the collated data from all institutions is available here: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3659970

I believe there is a high public interest in releasing the data, as evidenced by the high level of engagement with earlier data releases (https://figshare.altmetric.com/details/2...) and news articles about it (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/new...). It has directly informed UK government policy documents (https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...). The publishing sector is moving towards greater transparency, such as through the forthcoming Plan S requirements (https://www.coalition-s.org/principles-a...). To be accountable for the expenditure of public funds, and to align your practices with best practice across the sector, I urge you again to release the information. At the very least, providing figures for those publishers which you spend the most money with, such as Elsevier, would be extremely useful.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

Stuart Lawson