Dear Royal Holloway, 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

FOI, Royal Holloway, University of London

Dear Stuart,

I confirm receipt of your Freedom of Information request below.

We will provide you with the College's response to your request by 25 October.

Kind regards,

Rachael

Rachael Pymm
Governance & Information Officer

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FOI, Royal Holloway, University of London

Dear Stuart,

Further to your Freedom of Information request below, the College's response is as follows:

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

Wiley
2016/17: £160,087
2017/18: £171,486
2018/19: £174,110

Springer*
The College declines to provide this information under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as disclosure would prejudice the commercial interests of the College and Springer. As section 43 is a qualified exemption, we have conducted a Public Interest Test to determine where the public interest lies. Although we acknowledge the general public interest in transparency and in providing a full picture, to release this data would reveal a negotiated level of discount, which would prejudice the position of both parties in obtaining value for money in the future. The College has therefore concluded that the public interest is best served by withholding this information under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Elsevier
The College declines to provide this information under sections 43(1) and 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as disclosure would prejudice the commercial interests of the College and Elsevier. As section 43 is a qualified exemption, we have conducted a Public Interest Test to determine where the public interest lies. Elsevier have advised the College that they consider this information a trade secret, thus exempt under section 43(1) of the Act. Although we acknowledge the general public interest in transparency and in providing a full picture, to release this data would reveal a negotiated level of discount, which would prejudice the position of both parties in obtaining value for money in the future. The College has therefore concluded that the public interest is best served by withholding this information under sections 43(1) and 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Taylor & Francis
2016/17: £103,615
2017/18: £115,334
2018/19: £119,765

Sage
2016/17: £64,155
2017/18: £69,966
2018/19: £74,187

Oxford University Press
2016/17: £41,183
2017/18: £44,494
2018/19: £47,004

Cambridge University Press
2016/17: £31,878
2017/18: £32,943
2018/19: £34,486

Nature Publishing Group*
The College declines to provide this information under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as disclosure would prejudice the commercial interests of the College and Springer. As section 43 is a qualified exemption, we have conducted a Public Interest Test to determine where the public interest lies. Although we acknowledge the general public interest in transparency and in providing a full picture, to release this data would reveal a negotiated level of discount, which would prejudice the position of both parties in obtaining value for money in the future. The College has therefore concluded that the public interest is best served by withholding this information under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Royal Society of Chemistry
2016/17: £2,745
2017/18: £1,734
2018/19: £1,998

Institute of Physics Publishing
2016/17: £35,636
2017/18: £37,083
2018/19: £38,805

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of this request or the way it has been handled you can request an internal review by writing to:

Directorate of Governance & Legal Services
Royal Holloway, University of London
Egham
Surrey
TW20 0EX
E: [email address]

In line with the Section 45 Code of Practice, a request for an internal review must be received within 40 working days of the date of this email.

If following the internal review you remain dissatisfied with the service provided you have the right to appeal directly to the Information Commissioners Office for a decision. For details visit www.ICO.gov.uk

Kind regards,

Rachael

Rachael Pymm
Governance & Information Officer

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Dear Royal Holloway, University of London,

Thank you for providing some of the information, this is very helpful. However, with regards to the figures for Elsevier and Springer/Nature, 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 and Springer/Nature.

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 these publishers 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 both Elsevier and Springer 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 and Springer. This means that any secrecy is solely to the advantage of these particular publishers against their competitors, because their competitors' data is already available. It sees to me that to release figures for other publishers but not these 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

FOI, Royal Holloway, University of London

1 Attachment

Dear Stuart,

Further to your email below, I confirm that the College has carried out an Internal Review of its response to your request.

Please find attached a letter confirming the outcome of the Internal Review.

Kind regards,

Rachael

Rachael Pymm
Governance & Information Officer

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