Calculating cost-effectiveness for subscription choices

“Negotiations between Elsevier and the University of California system over open access and pricing seem to have reached a stalemate, and the UC no longer has the Elsevier Big Deal.   Currently,  no UC campus  subscribes to any Elsevier journals. If the UC chooses not to reenter the Big Deal, the UC campus libraries will probably find it worthwhile to subscribe to some Elsevier journals.  Which ones should they choose?      

 

A UCSB student, Zhiyao Ma, and I are developing a little tool that we hope will  help UC librarians in  making cost-effective selections of Elsevier journals for subscription.  The UC has   download statistics for each Elsevier journal at each  of its campuses.  Elsevier posts a la carte subscription prices for each of its journals.  Our tool allows one to select a cost per download threshold and obtain a list of journals that meet this criterion, along with their total cost.  It also allows for  separate thresholds to be used for different disciplines.  You can check out the current version at  https://yaoma.shinyapps.io/Elsevier-Project/

 

Since this project is still under way, we would be interested in any suggestions from librarians about how to make this tool more broadly useful.  Extending this tool to make comparisons among journals from  multiple publishers is an obvious step. However, we are dubious about the value of download statistics for cross-publisher comparisons.  There is evidence that download counts substantially overstate usage, because of repeated downloads of the same article by the same users, and that the amount of double-counting varies systematically by publisher.  This is discussed in  a couple of papers of which I am a coauthor.

 

“Looking under the Counter for Overcounted Downloads” (with Kristin Antelman and Richard Uhrig)

https://escholarship.org/uc/item/0vf2k2p0

 

and

 

“Do Download counts reliably measure journal usage: Trusting the fox to count your hens”. (with Alex Wood-Doughty and Doug Steigerwald)

https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/17824/19653

 

Instead of using download data, we could construct a similar calculator using price per recent citation as a measure of cost-effectiveness.  We have found that the ratio of downloads to citations differ significantly between disciplines.    So it is probably appropriate for cost per citation thresholds to  differ among disciplines….”

‘‘Well-Informed, Scientific, & Efficient (WISE) Government Act of 2019

“To secure Federal access to scientific literature and other subscription services by requiring Federal agencies and legislative branch research arms to make recommendations on increasing agency library access to serials, and for other purposes….”

Section 2(a): “The head of an agency may not enter into any contract for a journal subscription that prohibits disclosure of the cost of the subscription to another agency or the Library of Congress….”

Section 2(c)(1): Agencies must report on the subscriptions they bought and the prices they paid.

Open and Shut?: The OA Interviews: K. VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India

“It is, however, clearly problematic that cOAlition S has remained an essentially European initiative. For this reason when, in February, the Indian Government’s Principal Scientific Adviser, Professor VijayRaghavan posted a series of tweets saying that India was joining cOAlition S the news was greeted with great excitement by cOAlition S members, as well as by Plan S supporters like the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas.

 

The news was greeted with less enthusiasm back home in India, with concerns raised about the cost implications, the likely impact on small journals and publishers, and the way in which it would allow commercial publishers to continue to profit excessively from the research community – see, for instance, here, here and here.

 

Following Prof. VijayRaghavan’s tweets, however, radio silence set in, with no confirmation that India had formally joined, or any updates on the status of its plans. For this reason many ears pricked up last Friday when, during a lecture he gave at IISc Bangalore to mark Open Access Week, Prof. VijayRaghavan commented, “We are not committed to whatever Plan S does or does not do.” This sufficiently piqued the interest of Vasudevan Mukunth that he sought out Prof. VijayRaghavan and asked for clarification, which led to an interview in The Wire where it was confirmed that India no longer plans to join cOAlition S.

 

As I had been trying to interview Prof. VijayRaghavan for some months, I too was piqued by his comments and so took to Twitter to again invite him to answer the questions I had sent him in June. He agreed and below are his answers to an updated list of questions I emailed over to him….”

MIT framework for negotiating with scholarly publishers gains wide support

“Who should own and control the dissemination of research? Not academic publishers, according to a new framework developed by library leaders at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The framework, published this week, asserts that control of scholarship and the way in which it is distributed should reside with scholars and their institutions. The document contains six core principles that will be used by MIT as a starting point for future contract negotiations with academic publishers.

The principles aim to ensure that research is available openly and appropriately archived. They also call for fair and transparent pricing of publisher services and say that no author should be forced to give up a copyright in order to publish their work. Instead, authors should be provided with “generous reuse rights,” the framework says….”

Decrypting the Big Deal Landscape: Follow-up of the 2019 EUA Big Deals Survey Report

“As of 2017, the European University Association (EUA) assembled a unique collection of ‘Big Deals’ data on agreements between scholarly publishers and (national) consortia of libraries, universities and research organisations. This was carried out in the light of mounting higher education institution concerns about the increasingly unsustainable cost of subscriptions to scholarly publications. In 2016, EUA committed to “establishing an evidence base about current agreements and on-going negotiations with publishers in collaboration with NRCs”.1 Subsequently, data collected by EUA has served as the basis for two reports released in 2018 and 2019, respectively.2 Big Deals now receive increased attention due to their potential to ‘flip’ entire segments of the scholarly publication market from closed to open access publications. Big deals have also been widely criticised for locking-in library budgets, due to constantly increasing subscription costs. The 2019 EUA Big Deals Survey Report surveyed covered 30 European countries and found that over €1 billion is spent on electronic resources each year, including at least €726 million spent on periodicals alone. Big Deals are said to limit competition and innovation in the scholarly publishing system3 and curb universities’ and consortia’s financial freedom to pursue other priorities. However, recently, several European negotiating consortia and scholarly publishers have concluded Big Deals that allow eligible authors to publish articles in open access formats in specific journals. Known as ‘transformative agreements’, these contracts are also supported as one way to comply with future funder requirements that will apply as of 2021 under Plan S.4 In a system that is largely defined by Big Deals, this report aims to inform the transition to open access debate, by providing additional insights and indicators on these agreements’ costs, publication volumes and timelines. This has been achieved by placing EUA Big Deals data into context….

Part 1 explains the methods used to obtain the underlying data as well as limitations and responsible use of the data. Part 2 links the publication outputs of journal articles and reviews to the large five publishers’ market share. It seeks to provide a bigger picture of the relation between subscription costs and publishing output. Part 3 sets out an analysis of the price-per-article for each country and publisher, calculated on the basis of subscription prices and publication volume. It provides European negotiators with comparative Big Deals price per article data in 26 countries. Part 4 takes a closer look at the timeline of Big Deal agreements collected by the EUA Big Deals Survey. It shows that the 2018-2020 period is crucial for negotiations with scholarly publishers (in terms of market volume). Negotiations that occur during this time may also be crucial for the further development of ‘transformative’ agreements and therefore compliance with Plan S requirements. Part 5 provides a brief summary of our main findings, contextualises them with current developments and provides policy recommendations….”

Decrypting the Big Deal Landscape: Follow-up of the 2019 EUA Big Deals Survey Report | EUA

by Lennart Stoy, Rita Morais and Lidia Borrell-Damián

Based on the data collected for the 2019 Big Deals Survey Report, this publication aims to deliver additional transparency of the dynamics of the scholarly publishing market by providing insights and indicators on the costs, publication volumes and timelines of Big Deal contracts. The report is part of EUA’s support to universities and consortia striving to create a transparent and sustainable open access publishing system, in particular in the context of Plan S.

This has been achieved by placing EUA Big Deals data into context. Specifically, this report uses aggregate data obtained from the Web of Science by Clarivate Analytics provided by the German Competence Center for Bibliometrics and correlates it with EUA data on Big Deals. The report uses data from 26 countries and contracts with the publishers Elsevier, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, Wiley and American Chemical Society collected in late 2018.

Q&A with Calvin Warren: Open Access and Democratizing the Accessibility of Knowledge | Authors Alliance

“Open access was unfamiliar to me when I began my academic career, and I wish I’d known about it in graduate school. I do hope the [TOME] program recruits early career scholars, who are often producing the most provocative and groundbreaking work. I’m very grateful that Emory University invested time and resources for me to publish with open access….

Open access has widened my readership, exposing my work to artists, scientists, ministers, politicians, people I hadn’t expected to read my work. When access is open, more democratic, ideas can travel without restriction. And this has been my experience….

My advice to any authors with important ideas, especially those that speak to contemporary concerns, is to consider open access. Make an appointment with open access staff and discuss the possibility of this platform. It will create unexpected opportunities. Also, publishers often consider the open access funds “book sales” so it reduces some pressure from young scholars who need book sales for career stability. In short, open access is a gift to the academy and will lead the way in democratizing knowledge accessibility.”

MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts | Scholarly Publishing – MIT Libraries

“The core principles of an MIT Framework for publisher contracts are:

No author will be required to waive any institutional or funder open access policy to publish in any of the publisher’s journals.
No author will be required to relinquish copyright, but instead will be provided with options that enable publication while also providing authors with generous reuse rights.
Publishers will directly deposit scholarly articles in institutional repositories immediately upon publication or will provide tools/mechanisms that facilitate immediate deposit.
Publishers will provide computational access to subscribed content as a standard part of all contracts, with no restrictions on non-consumptive, computational analysis of the corpus of subscribed content.
Publishers will ensure the long-term digital preservation and accessibility of their content through participation in trusted digital archives.
Institutions will pay a fair and sustainable price to publishers for value-added services, based on transparent and cost-based pricing models….”

MIT announces framework to guide negotiations with publishers | MIT News

“The MIT Libraries, together with the MIT Committee on the Library System and the Ad Hoc Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, announced that it has developed a principle-based framework to guide negotiations with scholarly publishers. The framework emerges directly from the core principles for open science and open scholarship articulated in the recommendations of the Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, which released its final report to the MIT community on Oct. 18.

The framework affirms the overarching principle that control of scholarship and its dissemination should reside with scholars and their institutions. It aims to ensure that scholarly research outputs are openly and equitably available to the broadest possible audience, while also providing valued services to the MIT community….”

CARL Members Release Journal Subscription Cost Data for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 – Canadian Association of Research Libraries

“Following up on a first release last year, university library members of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) have released their expenditure data for journal and database subscriptions licensed through the Canadian Research Knowledge Network consortium. This release covers subscription costs for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019….

Click to access 2017-2018 data set

 

Click to access 2018-2019 data set…”