Basis for the estimate of less than $1000 to keep one year of an average journal on the Web for 30 years.

T. J. Walker, Dec. 1997

(This document is supplemental to The future of scientific journals: free access or pay per view?)

J. L. Corey, Director of the Florida Center of Library Automation, provided these estimates of costs, which are based on current costs at FCLA for making about 500,000 MB of information Web-accessible:

About $0.10/MB/year.
(This assumes a 4 year lifespan of a disk drive and/or technology)

About $0.10/MB/year.
(This assumes 5 year lifespan of a unix cpu/ sp2 node, and that 100GB of memory can easily be accessed by one box. Average price of an SP2 thin node with memory, switch card, etc. is $50,000.)

About $0.15/MB/year.

(This assumes 2 FTE @ $30,000 + 25% fringe. These 2 FTE, costing $75,000/year) currently tend about 500 GB of files.)

For two reasons these estimates are probably high relative to what future costs will be: (1) As the amount of information made accessible increases, the personnel costs per MB should decrease. (2) The costs of hardware to make information Web-accessible has been steadily decreasing and seems likely to continue to do so.

I took Corey’s estimates, which total $0.35/MB/year and applied them to 80 MB* for PDF files for one year of an average journal to get $28/year. If this cost continues without increase or decrease, the 30-year cost will be $840, which is obviously less than $1,000


*According to Tenopir and King (1997), the average U.S. scholarly science journal in 1995 had 123 articles and 1723 pages. (Only 1434 of these pages were “article pages”, but to be safe, I used 14 rather than 12 pages for mean article length.) An average 14-page article produces a PDF file of about 0.6 MB. [I downloaded the PDF files of three 7-page articles in the 5 Dec 1997 issue of Journal of Biological Chemistry ( Their sizes were 232, 442, and 234 KB (mean=303). Assuming that a 14-page article makes a PDF file twice as large as a 7-page article, I arrived at 0.6 MB.] Finally, to be sure that I was not underestimating storage requirements, I used 80 MB rather than 74 MB (123 × 0.6 MB) to arrive at the $28/year access costs.

Tenopir, C., and D. W. King. 1997. Trends in scientific scholarly journal publishing in the United States. J. Scholarly Pub. 28 (3): 135-170.