Detailed information on journal subscription costs paid to individual publishers by the Finnish research institutions has been released by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, and its Open Science and Research Initiative funded 2014–2017 (Academic Publishing Costs in Finland 2010–2015).
With this, Finland becomes to our knowledge the first country where annual subscription fees for all individual publishers and all major research institutions have been made available, spanning the years 2010-2015. Similar information has been previously released for some, but not all publishers and research institutions in the UK and US; and related activities are ongoing in several countries (see the recent blog post by Stuart Lawson).
Access to literature is fundamental to academic research but this has been challenged with the rapidly increasing prices of academic journals, which university libraries find increasingly difficult to fund. According to the data from the US Association of Research Libraries the academic journal subscription charges increased 4x faster than inflation in 1986-2007. The relative variation in prices is also considerable among the publishers (Bergstrom et al. PNAS 2014). Limited access to detailed pricing information and agreement details are likely to result in suboptimal contracts (Cockerill, 2006; Shieber, 2009). Improved access to subscription costs can hence be expected to lead to better deals and lower costs for the universities. It can also facilitate transition to the Open Access (OA) publishing model.