Simba Information: Scientific & Technical Publishing Grew During Pandemic

“The report Global Scientific & Technical Publishing 2021-2025 found that total sales increased 0.4% to $10.5 billion in 2020. However, currency exchange fluctuations deflated growth. Simba Information estimates growth without the currency impact at 2.8%.

“The findings stand in stark contrast to forecasts of doom and gloom related to COVID-19’s impact and the move to open access,” said Dan Strempel, senior analyst of professional publishing at Simba Information. “Print books continue to fall, but that spending is migrating to e-books and other types of online content, databases and tools. Research spending and output, in terms of journal articles, both continued to grow.”

The number of articles published with funding from 33 key research organizations tracked by Simba Information grew 10.7% to 525,042 articles in 2020, according to information in the Crossref database.

The National Natural Science Foundation of China is the leading funder, backing 268,588 articles in 2020—a 9.2% increase from 245,966 in 2019. The U.S. National Institutes of Health is the No. 2 funder of articles with 71,951 in 2020, an 8% increase. The European Commission has a strong hold on the No. 3 position in the index, growing the number of articles funded by 18.6% as the Plan S open access mandate builds momentum. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and Japan’s Science and Technology Agency both showed growth in articles funded in excess of 20% in 2020.

There have been more reports of university libraries canceling their journal subscription packages in 2020 and 2021, but most are still subscribing to individual journals based on usage/importance to the researchers and faculty. As individual institutions choose to purchase subscriptions a la carte, their total spend with the large commercial publishers is reduced, but the market leaders are replacing it with the growth of revenue from open access fees. Others are signing transformative agreements, which support the growth of open access.

Pure open access publishers MDPI, PLOS and eLife were also found to be publishing significant numbers of articles backed by the world largest research funding bodies. The European Commission funded 6,304 articles published by MDPI, 13.3% of all articles funded by the EC in 2020. MDPI also has a strong link to the National Research Foundation of Korea, which funded 2,829 articles published by MDPI in 2020 — 12.3% of all the articles funded by the foundation. PLOS and eLife are strongly linked to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, publishing 1,125 and 944 articles respectively in 2020 that were financially backed by that agency….”

What’s the Big Deal? | Ithaka S+R

“The dominant mode by which research libraries have provided maximum journal access as cheaply as possible—subscription bundles or “Big Deals”—is giving way to new approaches. This transition is taking place through a combination of negotiations, activism, business modeling, user needs research, and decision support, among other factors. To support these processes, Ithaka S+R partnered with 11 academic libraries to understand researcher perceptions to help inform their ongoing strategic decision making about Big Deal journal subscriptions.

Recognizing that libraries must also undertake case-by-case assessments prior to making decisions about any particular journal package, in this report we share findings from the project that merit wider public consideration. We detail patterns in how researchers approach discovery and access to journal content, focusing on their experiences when mechanisms for access change. These experiences are used as a jumping off point to also explore researchers’ perceptions of the various models for facilitating their access to journal content and of the stakeholders engaged in that work.

We found that when a suite of journals is no longer available through a Big Deal subscription package, researchers experience little negative impact in the short term. There are some institutional, disciplinary, and career-stage variations, but overall researchers are able to work around the access barriers they encounter. This reality is deceptively benign. Researchers remain supportive of their libraries and are also interested in broader efforts to challenge the status quo of the scholarly communications business. However, they do not have a solid understanding of the strategies for advancing new modes of journal access beyond the subscription model, nor are they clear on what the library can and should provide in response.

We recommend three areas of activity that institutions should be especially mindful of when considering changes to journal subscription packages …

We found that when a suite of journals is no longer available through a Big Deal subscription package, researchers experience little negative impact in the short term. There are some institutional, disciplinary, and career-stage variations, but overall researchers are able to work around the access barriers they encounter. This reality is deceptively benign. Researchers remain supportive of their libraries and are also interested in broader efforts to challenge the status quo of the scholarly communications business. However, they do not have a solid understanding of the strategies for advancing new modes of journal access beyond the subscription model, nor are they clear on what the library can and should provide in response….”

ACRL 2021 Environmental Scan

“Every other year, the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee provides a scan of higher education, detailing the current environment and its anticipated impact on libraries. While this year’s Environmental Scan is no different in terms of scope, we are now facing challenges to higher education on a scale not seen in decades. Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of millions of people, and in the United States, this disruption has been compounded by the eruption of protests surrounding civil rights and other social justice issues. While the 2021 Environmental Scan covers developments over the last two years (2019 and 2020), the events of 2020 are anticipated to have lasting repercussions, and, while not the primary focus, are a common thread throughout the document….

After years of debate, more academic libraries have begun to rethink the big deal, often with support from their faculty. Florida State University, Iowa State University, the State University of New York (SUNY), the University of California, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have all cancelled big deal packages in recent years. These decisions have been driven by evolving licensing principles, increased open access content, cost considerations, and new tools to analyze the impact of more targeted subscriptions.91 With current and inevitable future budget cuts taking place across the country, one can expect this trend to continue. Colleges and universities are facing difficult times that will impact academic library budgets, prompting major transformations in collection management, including the consideration of how to manage big deal packages.

Tilting the balance back towards libraries | Research Information

Jason Priem tells of his hopes for a ‘long-overdue’ change in academic publishing.

“This presents a compelling opportunity for us as OA advocates: by helping libraries quantify the alternatives to toll-access publishing, we can empower librarians to cancel multi-million dollar big deals. This in turn will begin to turn off the faucet of money flowing from universities to toll-access publishing houses. In short: by helping libraries cancel big deals, we can make toll-access publishing less profitable, and accelerate the transition toward universal OA.”

The New Abnormal: Periodicals Price Survey 2021 | Library Journal

“A large number of public and academic libraries are also looking at moderate to severe budget contractions due to unplanned COVID-related expenses, declines in tuition dollars, and/or local and state funding cuts. Many institutions are seeing or planning for permanent cuts between 9 and 13 percent to their base budget, a key difference from temporary cuts made after the Great Recession. Public libraries may fare better than academics: in an LJ survey of 223 public libraries across the United States, 84 percent reported an increase in FY21 total operating budgets for a rise of 2.9 percent. (See “The Price of a Pandemic.”) This was more modest than last year’s 3.5 percent increase, but represents continued, if uneven, gains….

Transformative agreements will make more content openly available, but they won’t pump any more money into library budgets or promise to make scholarly communications more sustainable. In the absence of national or statewide plans for funding OA (California being the notable exception), it’s difficult to see most “publish” universities in the United States agreeing to shoulder the costs of transformative agreements to make content open for all to read, particularly when faced with permanent budget cuts….

For the first time in a decade, libraries can anticipate subscription price increases of less than 6 percent: 3-4 percent is predicted for 2022. If a local serial portfolio skews toward large publishers, then the increase will be toward the 4 percent level. But with most institutions preparing for further collection cuts, even such a modest increase is not sustainable. Supported by faculty and emboldened by seeing the goals of Plan S and OA2020 start to come to fruition, libraries will be likely more prepared than ever to walk away from the table. Publishers will need to sharpen their pencils….

Although there were increases in the metrics for Impact Factor and Eigenfactor, the increases were not comparable to the increase in price. The average price ($6,637) for the most expensive journals was 18 times higher than the least expensive ($338), while the Impact Factor slightly more than doubled. The price increases for the more moderately priced titles were also lower than the more expensive titles, which showed close to a 4 percent increase. This analysis continues to show that higher priced titles do have higher Impact Factors and Eigenfactors, but the increase in the metrics is small when compared with the huge increase in costs….”

Unsub: Part 1: From Big Deals to Real Deals for Academic Publishing & Libraries – Charleston Hub

“The rise of sophisticated publishing units within and amongst academic institutions, often led by campus libraries, appeared along with the increasing use of pre-publication avenues and alternative publishing systems and other author posting options. Today we have a more nuanced publishing ecosystem of preprint servers, postprints repositories and other options, too many to name. These have been critical as new research has been shared broadly during the COVID crisis across the globe, proving the potential of these publishing options. 

In a recent study by University of Western Kentucky librarians reported that even though article purchasing represented a cost to the institution, “most of these institutions believe their article purchasing program is successful.” In a 2020 article posted on arXiv.org, Marc-Andre Simard, Jason Priem and Heather Piwowar  reviewed published literature on the impact of library Big Deal cancellations on academic libraries, noting that “cancellations have a surprisingly small effect on interlibrary loan requests.”  …”

 

Unsub: Part 1: From Big Deals to Real Deals for Academic Publishing & Libraries – Charleston Hub

“The rise of sophisticated publishing units within and amongst academic institutions, often led by campus libraries, appeared along with the increasing use of pre-publication avenues and alternative publishing systems and other author posting options. Today we have a more nuanced publishing ecosystem of preprint servers, postprints repositories and other options, too many to name. These have been critical as new research has been shared broadly during the COVID crisis across the globe, proving the potential of these publishing options. 

In a recent study by University of Western Kentucky librarians reported that even though article purchasing represented a cost to the institution, “most of these institutions believe their article purchasing program is successful.” In a 2020 article posted on arXiv.org, Marc-Andre Simard, Jason Priem and Heather Piwowar  reviewed published literature on the impact of library Big Deal cancellations on academic libraries, noting that “cancellations have a surprisingly small effect on interlibrary loan requests.”  …”

 

With 50% Cut, Virginia Research Libraries Recalibrate Relationship with Elsevier – SPARC

“Equity, affordability, and accessibility were at the center of the recent decision by the Virginia Research Libraries (VRL) consortium to cut their spend with Elsevier nearly in half while maintaining access to their most frequently used materials.

The decision by six members of VRL (William & Mary, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, George Mason University, Old Dominion University, and James Madison University) was grounded in a values-driven negotiation process that relied on data to make the case to move away from Elsevier’s “Big Deal” Freedom Collection. The new one-year agreement with Elsevier for 2021 significantly reduced the overall spend for each campus and allowed for a collection tailored to include each institution’s most used materials….”

What Collaboration Means to Us: The SPARC Journal Negotiation Community of Practice

“Negotiations are a particularly challenging area for collaboration among libraries. Driven by the prevalence of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and confidentiality clauses, the culture of information sharing outside of consortial arrangements is not a ready tendency by academic librarians, despite some notable exceptions1. The perception of potential antitrust concerns chilled discussions about negotiation strategy and tactics, and large publishers continue to exploit this asymmetrical information environment aggressively. Even before the current COVID crisis, many libraries reached a breaking point in the serials cost increases that their budgets could no longer bear. These challenges around effective collaboration drove the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to work with our members and the wider library community over the past two years to develop a journal negotiation community of practice. Initially focused on supporting libraries exploring cancelling their Big Deals, the community of practice quickly expanded to include negotiations more broadly, reflecting the need to better align the remaining publisher contracts with library needs and values and to better support libraries in this work. The Journal Negotiation Community of Practice has become a platform for dialog, sharing data and best practices, and creative problem solving. SPARC’s role is focused on both community building and catalyzing discussions as well as disseminating resources produced by these discussions. We work to create a welcoming environment for librarians to share both their questions and their experiences and to provide support by building tools to share actionable, on-demand information about both negotiating subscription packages and walking away from these packages altogether….”

When to Hold Them, When to Fold Them: Reassessing “Big Deals” in 2020: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  While cancellations of “Big Deals” at research institutions are making the headlines, small- and medium-sized schools are also addressing the issue of managing their journal packages by cancelling or unbundling major publishers’ journal packages. Although “Big Deals” were advantageous when first acquired, as the years passed, large publishers absorbed more publications annually, which brought higher costs and titles of lower relevance to the library. Each year librarians at Pepperdine University have analyzed cost per use, and each year the cost per use increased on many packages until these increases became unsustainable. Coinciding with this tipping point, alternatives to licensing entire packages emerged or became more viable. Libraries across the country realize that they no longer need to own everything. The authors go into details for each of the publishers’ “Big Deals,” present reasons why they were cancelled or restructured, the alternative solutions implemented, and what the reaction has been.

 

Measure Twice and Cut Once: How a Budget Cut Impacted Subscription Renewals: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  Library staff at California State University, Fullerton carried out a project to determine where budget cuts could be made in their electronic journal subscriptions. The team analyzed usage statistics by journal title, determined pricing for each journal, and created a formula to clearly define the cost effectiveness of continuing or deactivating a subscription. In this presentation, Keri Prelitz and Greg Yorba, with contributions from Ilda Cardenas, explain the special considerations, challenges, and outcomes of the project. Using this information, they will repeat the analysis annually, especially in the wake of additional budget cuts due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Measure Twice and Cut Once: How a Budget Cut Impacted Subscription Renewals: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  Library staff at California State University, Fullerton carried out a project to determine where budget cuts could be made in their electronic journal subscriptions. The team analyzed usage statistics by journal title, determined pricing for each journal, and created a formula to clearly define the cost effectiveness of continuing or deactivating a subscription. In this presentation, Keri Prelitz and Greg Yorba, with contributions from Ilda Cardenas, explain the special considerations, challenges, and outcomes of the project. Using this information, they will repeat the analysis annually, especially in the wake of additional budget cuts due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Communicating Collections Cancellations to Campus: A Qualitative Study | McLean | College & Research Libraries

Abstract:  Academic libraries around the world are cancelling big deal journal subscriptions at an increasing rate. This is primarily due to budgetary challenges, the unsustainable hyperinflationary pricing of these packages, and a need to move toward new open access models. It is a complex situation with many vested interests and stakeholders. Some libraries have been the target of angry backlash from faculty after such cancellations. The purpose of this qualitative study is to discover strategies for communicating to the campus community about collections cancellations so that they will better understand and support the library in making these difficult decisions.

 

Communicating Collections Cancellations to Campus: A Qualitative Study | McLean | College & Research Libraries

Abstract:  Academic libraries around the world are cancelling big deal journal subscriptions at an increasing rate. This is primarily due to budgetary challenges, the unsustainable hyperinflationary pricing of these packages, and a need to move toward new open access models. It is a complex situation with many vested interests and stakeholders. Some libraries have been the target of angry backlash from faculty after such cancellations. The purpose of this qualitative study is to discover strategies for communicating to the campus community about collections cancellations so that they will better understand and support the library in making these difficult decisions.