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The E-Journals Management Drive

The move to online content in the 21st century has unleashed new challenges in the STM industry, effectively destabilising the entire information supply chain. The increasing cost and complexity of managing rapidly growing volumes of STM information online has forced the players in that chain � publishers, agents and libraries alike � to adapt quickly to meet the challenges.

Swets anticipates that the migration from print to electronic journals will accelerate in the coming years, with the e-journals market share increasing from 15 per cent in 2003 to approximately 60 per cent in 2008. While this massive shift will provide readers with a far greater access to content, it requires all parties in the information supply chain to have sophisticated e-journal management systems in place.

The e-journal challenge
At present, e-journals management remains considerably less efficient than the administration of print subscriptions. The full impact of electronic journals on subscription administration processes and delivery requirements is only now becoming fully clear. Although agents and publishers have been actively experimenting, both parties have yet to provide a comprehensive service portfolio that properly addresses libraries' full e-journal management needs. It is therefore small wonder that some libraries have resorted to doing it themselves. In most cases, libraries are moving more of their print holdings to electronic versions without any increase in their internal administration resources. The new complexities faced by librarians include: n Knowing what e-content is available in the market;

  • Tracking usage and negotiating complex licensing deals;
  • Efficiently processing payments and maintaining payment records;
  • Recording and complying with the unique terms and conditions of each e-journal licence;
  • Keeping a comprehensive listing of electronic journals holdings;
  • Communicating the full list of electronic journal holdings to users; and
  • Connecting users to content.

Publishers and agents are also covering many of these tasks, compounding the already widespread inefficiency within the industry. In other words, due to inefficiencies in the e-journals management chain, libraries are being forced to invest heavily in systems and tools, rather than committing their resources to acquiring content.

The role of the agent
The message is clear: once agents and publishers have increased their expertise in e-journal administration and management, libraries will once again be able to focus on their fort� � purchasing relevant content and guiding users in their search for information. Swets believes that the current market complexity (migration from print to electronic and new publishing models, including usage-based purchase and open access) creates a real need for intermediaries such as Swets to drive efficiency in traditional services such as ordering, paying, claiming and consolidating as well as access, search, rights, administration and other e-journal management issues.

Market research
Market research conducted by Swets in 2004 has revealed that customers recognise an important role for agents in managing e-subscriptions:

  • Some 90 per cent of customer respondents believe that Swets plays a crucial role in customer service, payment and invoice consolidation and e-licence renewals;
  • More than 70 per cent place a strong emphasis on title lists and rights management, e-licence negotiations and access provision;
  • During the next four years, customers' online ordering and management of print and electronic subscriptions will grow by more than 250 per cent; and
  • Customers would also like Swets to play a pro-active role in negotiating for the 'Big Deal' on their behalf.

These findings demonstrate a strong market need for Swets to provide traditional agent services ��in addition to new tools and services � as the market migrates from print to electronic.

E-Journals Management Drive
Swets has recently launched a far-reaching drive to simplify e-journal management for customers. During 2004 and 2005, Swets will be investing in a comprehensive new series of tools and services, to reduce the complexity and expense of managing e-journals. In essence, we see our role in three key functional areas:

  • Providing a comprehensive, up-to-date database of all available content;
  • Advanced administration and customer service; and
  • Supplying integrated access management tools.

Swets' E-journal Management Drive aims to provide customers with the necessary tools to manage their e-journal subscriptions � from ordering to delivering content directly to the reader. Over the course of the next two years, Swets will improve its internal e-journal processing and produce a range of new services to improve the library's ability to manage and provide access to their collections and absorb as much of the administrative burden as possible.

Some examples of the new tools we are planning to launch include:

  • SwetsWise Title Bank, which will offer one straightforward listing of a library's entire online and print holdings, serving as a customised gateway for all electronic and print content from external databases, publisher websites or SwetsWise Online Content. Other features include an easy-to-use tool for organising and maintaining customers' access rights management information and downloadable reports with complete statistical information about journal usage;
  • SwetsWise Linker, an OpenURL Link Resolver, will provide customers with context-sensitive linking as well as lists of subscriptions, locations and access points; and
  • Swets' customisable licence bank, which will enable customers to track all of their electronic journal licence information, as well as providing management reporting. Customers will therefore be able to customise work flows access steps per licence, as well as preserving historical licence data for future cooperation.

SwetsWise Title Bank
Over the past two years, several providers have created publication-listing services providing information about where a user can access specific publications. However, as these listing tools are not integrated with a library's other resources, libraries continue to struggle with a significant administrative load to keep their lists up-to-date.

The current list providers also require the library to give them regular collection updates to properly maintain the list. But as these updates remain monthly, they are still only somewhat current.

The SwetsWise Title Bank will do things differently. Since Swets already maintains customers' subscription information, this data will be added automatically to the SwetsWise Title Bank. With this automation, every new order or renewal can be instantaneously processed in the library's listing without the library providing additional information. As not all of a library's subscriptions are acquired via an agent, however, a small amount of administration will remain via manual entry or a simple file upload.

The SwetsWise Title Bank is also fully integrated into SwetsWise Online Content, providing customers with valuable synergies. User administration only has to be done once, while customers enjoy the same user-friendly interface, allowing direct search and access to all of the titles and articles in their collection. Finally, the SwetsWise Title Bank offers a crucial service while actually reducing libraries' administrative burdens � well in line with Swets' campaign to reduce the complexity and expense of e-journal management.

Swets' International Customer and Publisher Advisory Boards
To stay in tune with this extremely dynamic market, Swets has recently founded both an International Customer Advisory Board (ICAB) and Publisher Advisory Board (IPAB). Prominent STM publishers and information professionals are assisting us with market intelligence (forming and testing concepts and giving structured feedback on new products and services).

ICAB members are drawn from senior academic and corporate library and information staff representing Swets' global customer base. These include Stanford University in the US, the University of Western Ontario in Canada, University College London and York University in the UK, INIST-CNRS in France, the University of Lund in Sweden, the Bavarian State Library in Germany, Catholic University Leuven in Belgium, National Taiwan University and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, as well as Shell and Schering.

The International Publisher Advisory Board will also work closely with Swets to form and test concepts, give structured feedback on new products and partner with opinion leaders in developing new solutions.

The IPAB is represented by: The American Chemical Society, Blackwell Publishing, CSA (Cambridge Scientific Abstracts), CSIRO Publishing, Elsevier, IEEE, Georg Thieme Verlag, Masson, OECD, Oxford University Press, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Walter de Gruyter and Wiley.

Swets in position
The industry is still in a highly volatile state and will continue to transform itself in the coming years. All of the players in the information chain will need to work hard to maintain and increase their value in serving the needs of information end-users and authors. Positioned squarely between 65,000 publishers and 60,000 customers worldwide, Swets specialises in reducing the complexity of many-to-many relationships. A highly developed service organisation allows for quick turnaround times for customer and publisher subscription management issues. We also have processes in place for automated information exchange between publishers' systems and our own, ensuring that Swets always has the latest details on pricing, licensing and timing.

Our technical staff have a profound understanding of emerging market technologies in areas like pay-per-view and rights management, enabling us to rapidly deploy new management and access tools as the need arises.

Finally, however, whatever the new information supply-chain line-up, the true winners will always be the readers.
John Martin is the director of marketing and business development at Swets Information Services.

contact details

Swets Information Services
Tel: +31 (0) 252 435 111
Fax: +31 (0) 252 415 888
Email: info@nl.swets.com
Web: http://informationservices.swets.com/