Summary of the SPA Sponsorship Agreement



Elsevier owns and publishes Stochastic Processes and Their Applications (SPA).  SPA is designated as an official journal of the Bernoulli Society. During the SPA conference in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2011 the Bernoulli Society and Elsevier extended the term of the contractual concerning SPA that extends until March 2015.

The society had expressed its concerns about the about the price of the journal. Elsevier understood these concerns and agreed to reduce the price very considerably over the next few years. The price issue is slightly complicated, so some background information is needed. SPA presently has two different institutional subscription prices, the so-called "full" and "alternative subscription'' price, that correspond to the ``standard institutional'' and ``alternative institutional'' subscriptions, respectively.  The alternative subscription price is substantially lower than the full price, and is advertised prominently at the SPA website.  Any library can order the alternative subscription, which gives full electronic access, while the printed journal is received quarterly rather than monthly.  To our best knowledge, all published comparisons of journal prices have used the high full price rather than the much lower alternative.

Concerning the price of SPA, Elsevier shared our concerns and have already reduced the main institutional price.  They have further agreed that during the course of the agreement, the journal will align to one advertised institutional subscription price that will be closer to the lower of the two current subscription prices.  This will be achieved by reducing the higher institutional subscription rate by the equivalent of at least 10 per cent per annum through 2014 - at the end of which the Alternative Institutional Subscription price will no longer be advertised.

Another concern addressed in the negotiations was Open Access.  Free online access has been offered on SPA, back to Volume 1, Issue 1, for Bernoulli Society members, for some years.   It has been further agreed that SPA will have delayed Open Access, i.e. each article becomes freely available four years after publication to all comers, back to 1995 under the Open Archives initiative.  (This initiative, effective for all articles published from 2008 onwards, involves no charges or other costs to the authors.) Also, Elsevier accepts that authors deposit to ArXiv preprints of the final accepted version of their SPA-papers including all editorial changes.  In fact, the editors encourage all SPA authors to do so. The difference with the practice of IMS published journals is that SPA authors have to upload their papers themselves.

Among the benefits for the Bernoulli Society from the contract is that Elsevier sponsors the annual SPA lecture at the SPA-conference or at the World Congress, and the Ito prize that is given every two years for the best paper published in SPA, over the corresponding period, in addition to other special sessions at conferences in probability and statistics. Moreover, Elsevier annually sponsors 2-4 travel awards to Bernoulli Society conferences, especially for young researchers.

It was agreed to reduce the full price by at least 10% annually. In fact, the full price of SPA was reduced by 15 per cent from 2011 to 2012. Specifically, the full price ($ denoting USD) developed as follows in the years 2010-2012:

2010      2011      2012

$2858     $2572   $2189

The full price of SPA is accordingly projected to decrease to $1773 by 2014.

If the number of printed pages is assumed to equal 3200 (the average number in the period 2009-2011), the price per page will decrease as follows:

2012    2013    2014

$0.68    $0.62    $0.55

The alternative subscription price in 2012 is $1550, corresponding to a price per page of  $0.48.

It is of interest to compare these prices to prices of other journals.  2008 prices per page can be calculated from an AMS survey of journal prices (

Here are some examples of probability journals:

Probability Theory and Related Fields:  $0.77/page

Stochastic Analysis and Applications:  $1.62/page

Annals of Applied Probability:             $0.11/page

Annals of Probability:                          $0.12/page

Bernoulli:                                           $0.19/page (significantly lower than reported in AMS survey)

The last three journals are published by societies and are therefore lower. One reason is that journals published by societies are usually subsidized in some way. For instance, editors-in-chief for society-sponsored journals are generally not financially supported to offset the time commitment outside normally expected duties of academic and other regular employers.

Comparison to the commercial publication Probability Theory and Related Fields by Springer-Verlag is particularly relevant for perspective. In 2012 the price of PTRF is $1513.  If the number of pages is as in 2008, then this corresponds to $0.80/page.

© Bernoulli Society