European inquiry raises heat on Reed

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The Independent Online

The European Commission has begun an inquiry into the scientific journals market, raising the pressure on the leading player Reed Elsevier.

Reed Elsevier and other scientific journal publishers are already being scrutinised by a British parliamentary investigation into allegations of profiteering. That inquiry's findings are to be published next month.

Academic libraries have complained about the mounting cost of subscribing to the leading journals. A publishing movement has started that provides journals that are free for libraries and online users - though researchers must pay to have their papers included in these "open access" journals.

While the European Commission provided a boost to the entire scientific publishing market by announcing that it will double its expenditure on scientific research to €10bn a year - meaning that more papers will be published - it also launched an inquiry into structure of scientific publishing.

A note from CSFB yesterday said: "Even before the process has started, [the Commission] has implicitly sided with the libraries and academic against the journal publishers....

"The Commission seems particularly enamoured of the open access model."