A brief look at the range of costs of downloading a scientific article.
I never really take that much notice of per-article fees. It’s not as if I ever pay them.
As a diversion from writing, I did a very lax survey of sorts of a small number of biological science journals. (I’m a biologist, so I’m sticking to what I know.)
What tipped me off was that while writing an earlier article I noticed that the cost to ’rent’ one of the papers was $US0.99. (This diverts to the DeepDyve website, which enables you to read the paper for up to 24 hours. One subscription option gives 25 articles for $US19.99. The first three rentals are free.)
By contrast the cost of purchasing the articles in my earlier blog article directly were:
- The FASEB Journal: $US 7.00, for one day access
- Carbohydrate Research (via ScienceDirect): $US 31.50
- PLoS One: $0 (Open access, i.e. free)
The Carbohydrate Research article is only 3 pages long, which would work out at $US 10.5o per page.
On top of these fees would be credit card fees and current exchange costs for those outside the USA.
Looking at more biological science journals – leaving aside open access journals, which cost nothing to read – the wide range in costs of access to articles continued. I’ve picked these from randomly selected articles in the latest editions (sorted by cheapest option):
- Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.USA:** $US 10.00 for 2-day access, or $US 25 for access to all of the journal for 7 days.
- Science: $US 15 for 24-hour access
- Nature:* $US 18 (News & Views) – $US 32 (letters and full articles)
- Molecular and Cellular Biology: $US 20 for 1-day access
- Bioinformatics (Oxford): $US 25 for 1-day access
- Cell: (via ScienceDirect): $US 31.50
- Human Molecular Genetics (Oxford): $US 40 for 1-day access
- Genome Biology (via infotrieve): $US 50 (for review or commentary articles***)
Clearly you couldn’t buy articles one-by-one on a regular basis unless you are rather well off!
Most journals now have some articles free. Variations on this are noted below for the journals looked at.
* Many of the commentary articles are also free.
** This is the formal, aka ’correct’, abbreviation. It’s usually known by the acronym PNAS (most people prefer to say this letter by letter, rather than as a word for fairly obvious reasons).
*** All research articles are free but review and commentary articles are by subscription or payment. These are the estimate costs the service offers. A 30-day free trial is available.
Other articles in Code for life: