Scholarly journals play a substantive role in the dissemination of knowledge among academics, and university presses have been exceptionally active as journal publishers. But since 1981 a series of events has affected, and in some instance adversely affected, journal publishing.
This article analyses data from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) regarding 1317 scholarly journals in 25 marker fields and addresses the following question: It has been alleged that it became difficult for academics in certain fields to get published in scholarly journals. Was there any decrease in the number of articles published in the 1317 journals analysed in this study?
Other questions addressed in this paper include the following: What impact did the serials crisis have on university presses? Did the economics of journal publishing change between 1981 and 2000? What is the potential impact of the 'open access' movement on scholarly communication?
Director Sanford G. Thatcher's perspective on copyright reflects the experience of trying to survive in a perilous enterprise that exists with one foot in the commercial marketplace and the other in the academic community, creating a condition of chronic schizophrenia. The press he directs is dedicated to serving the mission of disseminating scholarship but is required (under current conditions, anyway) to rely on income from sales to pay most of its bills. Because university presses operate so close to the margin, this sector of publishing is especially vulnerable to expansive interpretations of 'fair use.'
The libraries of universities and other research institutions are home to an abundance of academic journals, published in multifarious sizes, thicknesses, languages, and formats, with covers varying from black to psychedelic and covering every subject imaginable. More uniformity of format would favour the author, who would no longer have to tailor style to wherever the latest contribution is being submitted, but the current diversity of formats is aimed at the reader. Long may it so remain.