Libraries and Collections

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the phrase "scholarly communication" mean?

I don't use or publish in journals that have high pricetags, so how does this issue affect me?

Aren't subscriptions to online journals cheaper than subscriptions to print journals, since publishers don't have to pay for printing or mailing?

What alternatives are there to the current publishing model?

What is an "open-access" journal?

I'm not on any editorial boards. What can I do to help change publishers' policies?

What if I have to publish in certain journals to be considered for tenure?

Are there lists of journals in various disciplines with affordable prices and liberal copyright policies? If not, can someone in the Library help me identify those in my area?

If I try to negotiate with a publisher about retaining control of my copyright, will they decline to publish my work?

What terms of publication contracts are commonly negotiable?

Campus departments are being taxed to support Library collections. What are you doing with that money?

Can't you just raise more money or use endowment income to cover increasing costs?


What does the phrase "scholarly communication" mean?

"Scholarly communication" describes both the dissemination of and access to scholarship and research and thus applies to both producers and consumers of information. The scholarship and research can be in a variety of formats and states of completion, such as published books or journal articles, research results and data sets, and drafts of papers.


I don't use or publish in journals that have high pricetags, so how does this issue affect me?

Escalating costs have a ripple effect on the Library's budget. Throughout the recent budget cutbacks, the Library has been able to keep funding for its collections level, but at the same time, the costs for many journals have increased.  In addition, many journals and books the Library wants to acquire are published abroad, and the dollar's value against foreign currencies has declined; this means that even if the price is the same as last year in the foreign currency, it costs the Library more. If Journal A costs more, then in order to continue to receive it, the Library has to cancel its subscription to either Journal B or C; if journals in general cost more, then the Library has to decrease funding for books, recordings, manuscripts, and other materials to compensate. Furthermore, even if the UCLA Library is able to subscribe to a high-priced journal, other universities may not be able to, which decreases the potential readership for your work and limits the dissemination of your scholarship.


Aren't subscriptions to online journals cheaper than subscriptions to print journals, since publishers don't have to pay for printing or mailing?

Oddly enough, subscriptions to online journals are not cheaper than subscriptions to print journals. In fact, for journals that are published both online and in print, a subscription to the online version will often include the print version for a modest additional charge.


What alternatives are there to the current publishing model?

You can find out about the alternatives through these pages. One is open-access journals, which are peer reviewed but charge no subscription fee to users. Another is institutional or discipline-specific repositories, which also charge no fees to authors or users. Some scholarly societies have taken their journals out of the hands of commercial publishers and instituted more reasonable subscription rates; others have cut ties with existing journals and started new ones. And individual authors have been more proactive in retaining certain rights when negotiating copyright with publishers.


What is an "open-access" journal?

The most basic definition of an open-access journal is one that does not charge individuals or institutions a fee for accessing its contents.


I'm not on any editorial boards. What can I do to help change publishers' policies?

There are many things you can do, even if you're not on the editorial board of a journal. Consider open-access journals or journals with reasonable pricing models when choosing where to submit your articles. Negotiate with all journals to retain as much of your copyright as possible. Talk to your colleagues about the problem and about possible actions. Encourage your department's tenure and promotion committee to recognize the credibility, prestige, value, and high impact of alternate forms of electronic journal publication. If you're a member of a scholarly society that publishes a journal and uses subscription income to underwrite its other activities, advocate a business model that raises operating funds in other ways.


What if I have to publish in certain journals to be considered for tenure?

There are two things you can do. First, start a discussion with your colleagues about the criteria that are used in tenure decisions and bring their attention to the fact that open-access journals are high-quality, peer-reviewed, and frequently cited. Second, if you must publish in certain journals, negotiate the copyright terms with the publisher to retain the rights to publish it in pre- and postprint repositories and other non-commercial outlets and to copy and distribute it in your classes.


Are there lists of journals in various disciplines with affordable prices and liberal copyright policies? If not, can someone in the Library help me identify those in my area?

There is a database maintained by the University of Nottingham that lists the copyright policies of many publishers. And Library staff will be glad to suggest journals in your discipline with the most liberal copyright policies and the most reasonable pricing practices.


If I try to negotiate with a publisher about retaining control of my copyright, will they decline to publish my work?

The publisher may decline to agree to the terms you request, and if you are determined to stick to those terms, you may need to withdraw your article from the publisher and find another publishing venue.


What terms of publication contracts are commonly negotiable?

Many publishers will allow you to retain the right to place your article in non-commercial open archives on the Web, to post it on personal and/or institutional Web sites, and to make copies of it to use in your classes.


Campus departments are being taxed to support Library collections. What are you doing with that money?

Funding for collections is being spent on acquiring books, journals, and other materials. But prices for all materials continues to increase, and the Library's collections budget has remained flat.


Can't you just raise more money or use endowment income to cover increasing costs?

The Library has been quite successful in establishing collection endowments in a number of areas, from which interest income is used to support acquisitions in the area in perpetuity. However, not all subjects have endowments dedicated to them. And with the vast and ever-increasing amount of scholarship published each year in most areas, endowment income is not adequate to fund the acquisition of everything the Library would like to purchase.