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New Pricing Model Lets Users Rent Research Articles

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Cambridge Journals, the academic journal publishing division of Cambridge University Press, is offering a solution to cash-strapped researchers: 24-hour rentals of articles from its journals, for £3.99, $5.99 or €4.49.

Cambridge Journals already sells individual articles from its journals, at prices ranging from $30 (£19.14) to $49 (£31.25) a pop, making the rental price a significant discount.

Rental articles are read-only: After paying, users can view the article online as a PDF for 24 hours but can’t download, cut and paste or print it.

“Article Rental is a direct response to the increasingly high cost of full article ownership through the subscription, document delivery and pay-per view routes that non-subscribers have to use in order to access to an article,” said Simon Ross, global journals director at at Cambridge UP. “From our analysis of user traffic on Cambridge Journals Online, we see millions of non-subscribers turnaway as they can only access the article title and abstract information. We can now provide an alternative low-barrier access route that will allow these readers to access the research that interests them.”

Article Rental is initially available across the roughly 100 journals owned by Cambridge University Press and will eventually be rolled out to those published by Cambridge’s “learned societies” partners, including universities like Oxford. Article Rental will also be available on mobile devices.

I can see this model also working for other publishers of serious nonfiction titles, where a researcher might need just one chapter of a book, and perhaps other types of books as well. A site called DeepDyve already offers rental of individual scientific, technical and medical articles, which also can’t be downloaded or printed without outright purchase. Article rentals start at $0.99 and the site also offers monthly plans.

Hat Tip: Jennifer Howard