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The Problem

Academic publishers publish and sell academic research online – a relatively small task compared to the countless hours spent by researchers producing that research. Researchers generally pay and sign away their intellectual property (IP) rights for this to happen, whilst publishers earn as much as $10 billion annually off their collective work. This comes at profit margins of up to 40% – unheard of for most industries – because their content and editorial work is provided free of charge by the scientific community itself.

Academics, funders and universities are therefore involved in a system that sees billions generated from their work, all of which enters corporate pockets, and none of which is re-invested back into science. This is a huge problem because research underpins the technological innovations that will solve the world’s most important issues, and a wealthier research industry would accelerate innovation and attract talent to the industry.

The general business model of academic publishing, representing the two-way, billion-dollar cash flow towards commercial publishers. Of course, this model differs vastly between different publishers, but one thing remains the same: profit is generated from scientific research, all of which enters corporate pockets, and none of which is returned to science.
The general business model of academic publishing, representing the two-way, billion-dollar cash flow towards commercial publishers. Of course, this model differs vastly between different publishers, but one thing remains the same: profit is generated from scientific research, all of which enters corporate pockets, and none of which is returned to science.

Furthermore, fundamental knowledge is locked behind paywalls, such that only wealthy institutions can afford the exorbitant journal subscription fees demanded by publishers. This means people from poorer institutions and developing countries cannot access knowledge, diluting their potential to learn and contribute to innovation.

Expensive paywalls not only waste university funds, they also slow down future scientific discovery and put up barriers for interested members of the public, politicians and policy advocates who need access to primary research in order to exercise their democratic rights.

The benefits of open access
The benefits of open access

In Perspective

How high is 40%?

The profit margins of Fortune 500’s top 5 most profitable companies versus Elsevier, the most profitable academic publisher.

1. Apple - Technology - 23%
2. ExxonMobil - Oil & Gas - 7%
3. Wells Fargo - Banking - 27%
4. Microsoft - Technology - 22%
5. JP Morgan Chase - Banking - 26%
Elsevier- Academic Publishing - 36%

How much is US$10 billion?

The accumulative annual expenditures of some of the world’s largest research funders below does not even reach $10 billion.

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - $3.9 billion
  • National Health & Medical Research Council - $590 million
  • Australian Research Council - $610 million
  • Research Councils UK - $3 billion
  • The Wellcome Trust - $1.2 billion

Total: $9.3 billion

Want to know more about the problem? See our recommended content.

New to the world of academic publishing?
See academic publishing for beginners.

What We Do

MTAM strives to increase open access, return profits back to research,
and revolutionize scholarly communication at its core.

We unite and coordinate our supporters to:

Innovate

Create innovative solutions and technology that revolutionise scholarly communication

Formulate

Formulate institutional and public policy recommendations regarding open access

Advocate

Create awareness about open access and more equitable publishing models

Our Goals

By 2018 we aim
to achieve:

30,000

Global supporters who share a common vision

33%

Increase in openly accessible research

$100 million

Profit from journal sales reinvested back into the research industry

We envision a world where… 

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Access to knowledge is accepted as a fundamental human right.
Science is billions of dollars wealthier and innovation is accelerated, because profits are returned to the industry.
Research is evaluated by its scientific and methodological rigour, not by novelty or which journal it is published in.

Do you support MTAM’s goals? Become a supporter and join the global movement towards fairer science

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