The True Costs of Research and Publishing Your Work
As a professor, I can tell you that it is important in the academic area to publish your scientific works and researches and essays, otherwise, you will have no future as a scholar. I call it “publish or perish”.
However, if take a closer look at what is going on in real life, you will see that publishing your works will not bring you any financial prosperity either. On the contrary, the process of pre-publishing and publishing itself is very expensive and one rather be left in poverty than flourish. I am a full-time employed professor at the university, but I am thinking about finding a second job in order to support myself and – what is more important – my research! All the paradox is the more successful as a scholar I am the poorer I become. However, it is fair only regarding the art history sphere as it is the field of my specialization.
As you probably know, an essential part of our job is to write illustrated publications. However, universities, unfortunately, do not support this activity actively enough. In fact, we, professors, have to bear most of the expenses ourselves, and that means the enormous costs!
In my personal case, while being a professor at St. Andrew’s I published six monographs with 1,215 images in all of them in total. I have also published fourteen articles, which means another 120 images. Add one more article that had 84 images alone. I have therefore used a total of 1,419 images in books and articles, and they can be or have already been submitted to the research framework by the university.
As long as I am researching Medieval culture and manuscripts, it would be impossible to publish a work without any illustrations or images. All the images I use allow the reader to make sure that everything I say is the truth.
However, publishing all these books cost me all my savings! Below you can see what stages of my research are the most expensive.
Traveling to collections to take research on original manuscripts
Today only a small part of existing manuscripts is digitized. To be able to research most of them I must take many flights and train rises every year in order to take a look at the original documents that are being kept in the collections. For each project, I can take from two hundred to half a thousand trips! I don’t even count how many times I visit different libraries, because they are countless.
Buying photographs to study
If it is possible to take a photo myself to research it later, it is great. however, quite often I have to pay a fee to be able to take a picture of the manuscript, especially if those are being kept in private collections or in the museums.
The worst thing about it is that often collectors and traditions do not allow to take photos of their manuscripts. If the samples I want to study are not digitalized and are not available on the online catalog, I must pay to be able to get the images of them. For example, at the British Library, the first image costs 29.95 pounds and each next image will cost you eight pounds more.
Travel costs, accommodation and registration fee
Whenever I have to take a look at the manuscript, I need to take a trip. It means that I will have to buy tickets, book a room at the hotel, pay for visiting restaurants to eat. In case any additional expenses are required (like admission to the exhibition or conference), I am paying for them from my own pocket, too. Taking into account the fact that attending various events like forums and conferences usually costs from seven hundred to more than two thousand pounds, you can imagine what expenses I must bear.
Buying images for publications
Whenever I want to publish a book or monography, I need to add images to it. All the publishers require at least 300 dpi high-resolution images, and many institutions charge huge fees for them. For example, at the Stockholm Royal Library, one image will cost me about 143 pounds. In total, the price for all the images I may use in my book can reach up to four thousand pounds or more.
Payments for data storage
I have thousands of images that I constantly use in my research. About seven thousand of them are being kept on my local machine, but all the full-size “mother images” are kept on my hard drivers and in the cloud storage. However, even though my university pays for the hardware and software, I spend about a thousand pounds every year to pay for my cloud storage.
Paying fees for copywriting
In the United Kingdom, there are many institutions that demand to pay for the allowance to publish their images in books and other printed sources. According to this, one book can cost me around one thousand pounds and that is for images only!
Free copies of books
All the scholars that publish their own book must provide free book samples to the libraries that gave them images. However, there are usually far more those who have to receive a free book comparing to the number of free books that publishers provide me with. The only way out is to buy the rest of the giveaway books for my own money.
Publishers often charge enormous fees from the authors. I had cases when I used to have to pay around thirty thousand (!) pounds of production fee. Of course, sometimes there are private donors who are willing to pay for me, however, those costs are still far too high for any scholar.
The result of all these issues is that, after eight years of work at St. Andrew’s, I own no property and have no savings. Moreover, my pension will be very small. What I think must be done is that universities should provide their researchers with proper funding if they are interested in the further development of the humanities. As for the institutions that hold images, they could at least make access to them free. And finally, I think that digital publishing must become a legitimate way of releasing research and scholar works. Otherwise, there is no point in all the academic research if they have to be paid by the scholars themselves.