The main actors in scientific publishing generate considerable income. In fact, the sector is dominated by an oligopoly with “the big four” sharing most of the global pie:
The Dutch Elsevier
The German Springer
The American Wiley
The English Informa
They draw huge profits: from 30% to 40% annual net profit in the case of Elsevier and Springer.
In other words, these four major publishers resell to universities content that the institutions themselves have produced.
In this completely closed market, competition does not exist, and pre-existing agreement is the rule: subscription prices have continued to soar for thirty years, while the cost of publishing, in the era of electronic publishing, has never been lower. For example, the annual subscription to Elsevier’s journal ‘Brain Research’ costs a whopping 15,000 EUR.
The Ministry Shoulders This Policy
The agreement between France and Elsevier amounted to ca. EUR 172 million for 476 universities and hospitals.
The first payment (approximately EUR 34 million of public money) was paid in full in September 2014. In return, 476 public institutions will have access to a body of about 2,000 academic journals.
This published research was mainly financed by public funds. Therefore in the end, we will have paid to Elsevier twice: once to publish, a second time to read.