Questions raised over the true burden of the ‘big deal’

“Louisiana State University recently said that it could no longer afford its $2 million annualcomprehensive journal subscription deal with publisher Elsevier. By unbundling its “big deal” and subscribing to only the most essential journals, the institution’s administrators hope to save the library $1 million a year. LSU is far from the first institution to complain that publishers’ subscription costs are too high. The University of California system, Temple UniversityWest Virginia University, the University of Oklahoma and Florida State University all announced this year that they are dropping big deal contracts with various publishers, including Elsevier, Wiley and Springer Nature.

But one skeptic is challenging the conventional wisdom about high subscription rates and raising doubts about big deals not being good deals.

Kent Anderson, CEO of publishing and data analytics company RedLink, has argued that the subscription model is actually “pretty efficient” for institutions….”

The rise in open-access publishing has decreased the value of subscription deals as more content is available for free, said Roger Schonfeld, director of the libraries, scholarly communication and museums program at Ithaka S+R.

Schonfeld says the main reason the value of the big deal is in decline is because of something he calls “leakage,” the availability of journal content through channels not controlled by publishers.

Piracy site Sci-Hub is one service through which content is “leaking,” he said. But there are other sources of content leaks that are not illicit. Institutional repositories, for example, are an accepted part of the scholarly publishing ecosystem.

“The big deal as a bundled subscription model is definitely under threat,” said Schonfeld. “Most of all from the fact that the libraries are less interested in just subscriptions — they want read-and-publish or publish-and-read agreements that capture the full stack of publishing services.” …”

Open access and subscription based journals have similar problems in terms of quantity and relaying science to the public | The BMJ

In the Head to Head debate on whether to publish in an open access journal, Ashton and Beattie report that PLOS One accepts 70% of submissions.1 That might have been true in 2013, but a more recent and perhaps more accurate figure would be that as of 2017 PLOS One accepts about 50% of submissions, which is an equivalent rate to that of BMJ Open.2 I also question whether acceptance rate is a meaningful statistic when research is moving towards a publish first, curate later model.3 Simply not publishing, or batting manuscripts around various journals until one finally accepts it after a lengthy delay, constitutes a form of research waste and is something that ought to be avoided.4

The argument that certain forms of open access encourage higher quantity is also true of subscription based publishing. Predominantly subscription based publishers routinely market their subscriptions to library consortiums on the basis of price per article, the lower the better value. As the price of subscriptions that libraries can afford remains flat, subscription based publishers have an incentive to make their services look better by publishing more to reduce the apparent price per article that a subscription gets you. The publishers then further obfuscate this by bundling together journals full of chaff articles with journals full of higher quality material. But under so called diamond or platinum open access publishing models, in which neither authors nor readers pay to support the publication process, there is no such dangerous incentive to erode professional standards….”

LSU ends Elsevier bundled journal subscription

Louisiana State University will terminate its “big deal” with publisher Elsevier at the end of this year, joining the growing list of U.S. institutions that have recently decided not to renew their bundled journal subscription deals with the publisher.

LSU is just the latest of several U.S. institutions, including the University of California system, Temple University and Florida State University, to announce its intentions to end its business relationship with Elsevier in the last two years….

LSU’s Faculty Senate approved a resolution recommending the cancellation of the subscription package in April. …”

Elsevier changes: Message from the provost | LSU Libraries

For decades, LSU has subscribed to a package of some 1,800 electronic journal titles from Elsevier publishing. Dramatic increases to subscription costs in recent years have become unsustainable, and a renewal in 2020 would come with a price tag of at least $2 million annually. The university administration, LSU Libraries, and the Faculty Senate have been grappling with the high cost of Elsevier’s journals, as have many other universities nationwide.

During the Faculty Senate’s final meeting of the spring semester, senators approved a resolution recommending the cancellation of the subscription package of Elsevier journals. Going forward, the Libraries will subscribe to Elsevier journals on a title-by-title basis, retaining the most highly used journals by the LSU community. The resolution further called for the creation of expedited document delivery to provide fast, unmediated access to articles in journals not on subscription.

The LSU administration supports this course of action. Once the current contract with Elsevier expires at the end of 2019, LSU will break away from the package agreement, and expects to spend $1 million on Elsevier titles, subscribing to fewer journals and providing access to all previously available material through alternate sources….”

2019 Big Deals Survey Report: An Updated Mapping of Major Scholarly Publishing Contracts in Europe

“The Second EUA Big Deals Survey Report is an updated mapping of major scholarly publishing contracts in Europe.

Conducted in 2017-2018, the report gathers data from 31 consortia covering an unprecedented 167 contracts with five major publishers: Elsevier, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, Wiley and American Chemical Society. Readers will discover that the total costs reported by the participating consortia exceed one billion euros for periodicals, databases, e-books and other resources – mainly to the benefit of large, commercial scholarly publishers.

The report provides an overview of Big Deal negotiations across Europe, focusing on topics such as the organisation of negotiations, provisions on Open Access and transparency of contracts and costs. It also offers information on the consortia and focuses specifically on periodical Big Deal contracts with the five large publishers selected for this survey. Finally, the report addresses the costs of Big Deal contracts, offering conclusions and policy recommendations on the negotiation of contracts….”

Reflections on trends in library big deals, consortiums and how it might apply to Singapore? | Musings about librarianship

The news that University of California system cancelled their deal with Elsevier seemed to have caused a bit of a stir all over the world, including here in Singapore and I was asked to do a talk to brief faculty on the latest trends in this area.

The more I researched the more interested I got. What were institutions and consortiums doing to better their bargaining position with the big publishers?  Was it all about reducing costs for the “big deals”? How successfully were they?  Lastly to really negotiate with any credibility, you had to be prepared to walk away from the bargaining table and cancel and indeed some consortiums and institutions have done so, how were their users coping?…”

Revisiting – Navigating the Big Deal: A Guide for Societies – The Scholarly Kitchen

“In the wake of Plan S, many research society and independent publishers are exploring potential partnerships with larger publishing houses. While Plan S is the catalyst for this activity, it’s part of a longer term trend in the market toward scale as the key advantage leading to success. The benefit for a smaller publisher in such an arrangement is that they gain access to that scale, along with the resources that come with it. The negatives include losing some levels of control over one’s publication program. In particular, as the Big Deal has evolved, it has changed the way these partnerships can work. Because so much effort is currently going into expanding the Big Deal into The Bigger Deal (adding in open access author fees on top of subscription access), I thought it was a good time to revisit Michael Clarke’s post from last year that talked about understanding the current state of the Big Deal and the careful planning one needs to do in order to put together a successful publishing partnership….”

Revisiting – Navigating the Big Deal: A Guide for Societies – The Scholarly Kitchen

“In the wake of Plan S, many research society and independent publishers are exploring potential partnerships with larger publishing houses. While Plan S is the catalyst for this activity, it’s part of a longer term trend in the market toward scale as the key advantage leading to success. The benefit for a smaller publisher in such an arrangement is that they gain access to that scale, along with the resources that come with it. The negatives include losing some levels of control over one’s publication program. In particular, as the Big Deal has evolved, it has changed the way these partnerships can work. Because so much effort is currently going into expanding the Big Deal into The Bigger Deal (adding in open access author fees on top of subscription access), I thought it was a good time to revisit Michael Clarke’s post from last year that talked about understanding the current state of the Big Deal and the careful planning one needs to do in order to put together a successful publishing partnership….”

Welcome to “No Big Deal?”: News and Links About the Cost, Value, and Sustainability of Big Journal Bundles

Today we are launching No Big Deal?, a new feature of UVA Library News that will track the latest events and scholarship about the biggest vendors serving research libraries like ours. Tracking, shaping, and responding to this landscape has always been part of what the Library does, and we would like to share some of what we are seeing, doing, and thinking with you, the faculty, students, and researchers who use our collections.

Big changes are shaking up the way research libraries around the world think about the biggest line items in our budgets, the journal bundles we call “Big Deals.” In particular, we’re following stories about libraries pushing back and even walking away completely from unsustainable deals. Increasingly bold initiatives abroad, from research funders and national-level university groups like those in GermanySwedenNorway, and France, also merit attention. Global efforts to expand open access and contain subscription costs are sure to affect the ecosystem in the US….”