Gowers publishes Elsevier spend - Thu, 24 Apr 2014

A blog post has been published giving details of Russell Group Libraries' spend on Elsevier content. 


It has been published byTim Gowers following Freedom of Information requests to Russell Group universities. It can be found here: http://gowers.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/elsevier-journals-some-facts/#mor...


It includes a critique of Elsevier’s monopolistic position. He states: “in 2013, Elsevier’s profit margin was up to 39%. (The profit is a little over £800 million on a little over £2 billion.)” and that “The problem is quite simply that Elsevier has a monopoly over a product for which the demand is still very inelastic (the lack of elasticity being largely the fault of the academic community), with the result that the prices are unreasonably high for the service that Elsevier provides.”


He has conducted a survey of academics within the maths departments at Cambridge.  It shows that “in both departments, most people would not suffer too much inconvenience if they had to do without Elsevier’s products and services, and a large majority were willing to risk doing without them if that would strengthen the bargaining position of those who negotiate with Elsevier.” 


He provides the following figures for spend by the institutions which responded:

University Cost Enrolment
Birmingham £764,553 31,070
Bristol £808,840 19,220
Cambridge  £1,161,571  19,945
Cardiff £720,533 30,000
*Durham £461,020 16,570
**Edinburgh £845,000 31,323
*Exeter £234,126 18,720
 Glasgow £686,104 26,395
King’s College London £655,054 26,460
Leeds  £847,429  32,510
Liverpool £659,796  21,875
Manchester £1,257,407 40,860
Newcastle  £974,930 21,055
Queen's University Belfast £584,020 22,990
Sheffield £562,277 25,965
Southampton £766,616 24,135
UCL £1,381,380 25,525
Warwick £631,851 27,440
*York £400,445


*Joined the Russell Group two years ago.
**Information obtained by Sean Williams.