Worldwide, researchers sign a petition against the largest scholarly publishing house, Elsevier, because of the high subscription price policy of these journals and because Elsevier proceeded against free dissemination and access to their journal contents.
As an example, Elsevier supported the Research Works Act, but stopped this support as of February 27, 2012 (statement by Elsevier). The Research Works Act is a bill in the U.S. that among other goals aims at blocking free access via the archive PubMed Central to research results sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
Sign the petition, too!
Update of March 9, 2012: Since February 27, 2012, Elsevier has withdrawn from supporting the Research Works Act: Announcement of Elsevier.
High costs for accessing scholarly publications
A short overview of the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie in Germany shows how high the costs (subscriptions, licences) for accessing journal contents can be. List prices of journals from big publishing houses can be found on the websites of these publishers:
The University of Zurich pays large amounts for licence packages (big deals) to big publishers, too, but these numbers may not be published due to contract terms.
Action against the document delivery service of the ETH library
Three large scholarly publishers bring the document delivery service of the ETH library to trial. They want to constrict the access to their published scientific papers, which the library enables with its document delivery services. See more about this in an article published by NZZ (in German) and also see the statement of the ETH library.
Alternatives and solutions
Depositing in ZORA: researchers affiliated with the University of Zurich can optimize dissemination of their journal articles, despite the high subscription prices, by depositing a full version of their work in ZORA, if they are still in possession of their author's rights. Many publishing contracts that authors sign allow them indeed to deposit the last version of an article in ZORA with Open Access (last version = accepted manuscript: after peer review but withour publisher's logo and layout). You will find further information about author's rights in our copyright section.
Publishing with an Open Access publisher or in an Open Access journal:
The University of Zurich holds memberships with several Open Access publishing houses (= publishers that themselves offer Open Access). This reduces the article processing costs for authors. Examples are: BioMed Central, Public Library of Science, Springer Open, Wiley Open Access (very recently, Wiley-Blackwell has converted its established journal "Evolutionary Applications" into Open Access). Further information about the UZH memberships and discounts can be found on our membership page.