Dear St George's 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, St George's University of London

Thank you for your Freedom of Information enquiry.  We will deal with your
request in due course, in line with the Freedom of Information Act.

Sheila Durkin | Governance Manager
Governance Legal and Assurance Services
St George’s, University of London
Cranmer Terrace | Tooting | London | SW17 0RE
+44 (0)20 8725 4698

[email address]

Freedom of Information, St George's University of London

1 Attachment

We attach our response to your Freedom of Information request.

Best wishes.

Sheila Durkin | Governance Manager
Governance Legal and Assurance Services
St George’s, University of London
Cranmer Terrace | Tooting | London | SW17 0RE
+44 (0)20 8725 4698
[email address]

show quoted sections

Dear St George’s, University of London ,

Thank you for providing some of the information, this is very helpful. However, with regards to the figures for Elsevier, I disagree with your reasoning and believe that you can (and should) release the information. I have sent the same request to all higher education institutions in the UK, and the majority have now responded to the request by releasing the data – including for Elsevier.

Although the contract for the Elsevier ScienceDirect Journals Agreement includes a clause regarding the release of expenditure figures, it explicitly allows the release of data if you are subject to a Freedom of Information request. This is why most institutions have already released the information.

As a reminder, you have already released expenditure figures for Elsevier in previous years: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e... and https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a.... The full dataset for all institutions in previous years is available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1186... and https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4542....

Since negotiations with Elsevier for journal agreements occur on a sector-wide level through a single central negotiator – Jisc Collections – it is not in your institution’s interest for figures to remain secret. Indeed, full transparency of these figures can show your institution how much comparable institutions are paying, allowing you to understand whether you are receiving appropriate value from your payments. The current situation is almost complete transparency with regards to the amounts paid by UK institutions to most of the major journal publishers, including Elsevier. This means that any secrecy is solely to the advantage of Elsevier against their competitors, because their competitors' data is already available. It sees to me that to release figures for other publishers but not Elsevier is not in the interest of fair competition.

Finally, 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.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Lawson

Freedom of Information, St George's University of London

We write to acknowledge receipt of your request for an internal review of your recent Freedom of Information request and our response of 18 October 2019 [FOI2019-20-060].

Please be assured that this will be managed as soon as possible, and certainly within twenty working days of receipt of your request.

Best wishes.

Sheila Durkin | Governance Manager
Governance Legal and Assurance Services
St George’s, University of London
Cranmer Terrace | Tooting | London | SW17 0RE
+44 (0)20 8725 4698
[email address]

show quoted sections

Sheila Durkin, St George's University of London

1 Attachment

We attach our response to your request for an internal review of our
previous response to a Freedom of Information request.
For your information this response is being sent from myself rather than
Mr Paul Ratcliffe (the Chief Operating Officer) as would usually be the
case with an internal review.  Mr Ratcliffe is on annual leave this week.
Best wishes.

Sheila Durkin

Governance Manager

Governance Legal and Assurance Services

St George’s, University of London

Email [1][email address]

Telephone 020 8725 4698

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Stuart Lawson <[FOI #606800 email]>
Sent: 26 October 2019 15:35
To: Freedom of Information <[email address]>
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Academic
journal costs
 
Dear St George’s, University of London ,

Thank you for providing some of the information, this is very helpful.
However, with regards to the figures for Elsevier, I disagree with your
reasoning and believe that you can (and should) release the information. I
have sent the same request to all higher education institutions in the UK,
and the majority have now responded to the request by releasing the data –
including for Elsevier.

Although the contract for the Elsevier ScienceDirect Journals Agreement
includes a clause regarding the release of expenditure figures, it
explicitly allows the release of data if you are subject to a Freedom of
Information request. This is why most institutions have already released
the information.

As a reminder, you have already released expenditure figures for Elsevier
in previous years:
[2]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...
and
[3]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a....
The full dataset for all institutions in previous years is available at
[4]https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1186... and
[5]https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4542....

Since negotiations with Elsevier for journal agreements occur on a
sector-wide level through a single central negotiator – Jisc Collections –
it is not in your institution’s interest for figures to remain secret.
Indeed, full transparency of these figures can show your institution how
much comparable institutions are paying, allowing you to understand
whether you are receiving appropriate value from your payments. The
current situation is almost complete transparency with regards to the
amounts paid by UK institutions to most of the major journal publishers,
including Elsevier. This means that any secrecy is solely to the advantage
of Elsevier against their competitors, because their competitors' data is
already available. It sees to me that to release figures for other
publishers but not Elsevier is not in the interest of fair competition.

Finally, I believe there is a high public interest in releasing the data,
as evidenced by the high level of engagement with earlier data releases
([6]https://figshare.altmetric.com/details/2...) and news articles
about it
([7]https://www.timeshighereducation.com/new...).
It has directly informed UK government policy documents
([8]https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...).
The publishing sector is moving towards greater transparency, such as
through the forthcoming Plan S requirements
([9]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.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Lawson

show quoted sections