Is It Such a Big Deal? On the Cost of Journal Use in the Digital Era

Authors : Fei Shu, Philippe Mongeon, Stefanie Haustein, Kyle Siler, Juan Pablo Alperin, Vincent Larivière

Commercial scholarly publishers promote and sell bundles of journals—known as big deals—that provide access to entire collections rather than individual journals. Following this new model, size of serial collections in academic libraries increased almost fivefold from 1986 to 2011.

Using data on library subscriptions and references made for a sample of North American universities, this study provides evidence that, while big deal bundles do decrease the mean price per subscribed journal, academic libraries receive less value for their investment.

We find that university researchers cite only a fraction of journals purchased by their libraries, that this fraction is decreasing, and that the cost per cited journal has increased.

These findings reveal how academic publishers use product differentiation and price strategies to increase sales and profits in the digital era, often at the expense of university and scientific stakeholders.

URL : Is It Such a Big Deal? On the Cost of Journal Use in the Digital Era


Publish or impoverish: An investigation of the monetary reward system of science in China (1999-2016)

Authors : Wei Quan, Bikun Chen, Fei Shu


The purpose of this study is to present the landscape of the cash-per-publication reward policy in China and reveal its trend since the late 1990s.


This study is based on the analysis of 168 university documents regarding the cash-per-publication reward policy at 100 Chinese universities.


Chinese universities offer cash rewards from 30 to 165,000 USD for papers published in journals indexed by Web of Science (WoS), and the average reward amount has been increasing for the past 10 years.


The cash-per-publication reward policy in China has never been systematically studied and investigated before except for in some case studies. This is the first paper that reveals the landscape of the cash-per-publication reward policy in China.