March 9, 2021

Research Article: “Assessing the Size of the Affordability Problem in Scholarly Publishing” (Preprint)

The following preprint, posted today, has not been peer-reviewed.


Assessing the Size of the Affordability Problem in Scholarly Publishing


Alexander Grossmann
HTWK Leipzig (Leipzig University of Applied Sciences)

Björn Brembs
University of Regensburg


PeerJ Preprints 7:e27809v1
DOI: peerj.preprints.27809v1


For many decades, the hyperinflation of subscription prices for scholarly journals have concerned scholarly institutions. After years of fruitless efforts to solve this “serials crisis”, open access has been proposed as the latest potential solution. However, also the prices for open access publishing are high and are rising well beyond inflation. What has been missing from the public discussion so far is a quantitative approach to determine the actual costs of efficiently publishing a scholarly article using state-of-the-art technologies, such that informed decisions can be made as to appropriate price levels.

Here we provide a granular, step-by-step calculation of the costs associated with publishing primary research articles, from submission, through peer-review, to publication, indexing and archiving.

We find that these costs range from less than US$200 per article in modern, large scale publishing platforms using post-publication peer-review, to about US$1,000 per article in prestigious journals with rejection rates exceeding 90%. The publication costs for a representative scholarly article today come to lie at around US$400.

We discuss the additional non-publication items that make up the difference between publication costs and final price.

Direct to Full Text (Preprint)
44 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.