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Research Libraries UK calls for cuts in big deal prices

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Research Libraries UK (RLUK) has said it will not support future journal big deals unless they show real price reductions. At the organisation's recent conference, RLUK members said that, with cuts to teaching grants and research budgets flat at best, price reductions in big deal packages are needed to avoid significant numbers of subscriptions being cancelled.

RLUK  has asked JISC Collections, which negotiates with publishers on behalf of UK higher education, to secure contracts that will not only rescind what it calls the unreasonable price rises of the last three years, but also offer affordable deals for the future. If reasonable deals cannot be struck RLUK libraries will be forced to provide information resources to their researchers and students in other ways, said thae organisation.

'The capacity of UK universities to continue to pay such large year-on-year increases for access to scholarly journals is not infinite,' said Michael Arthur, vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds and chair of the Russell Group of Universities. ‘We realise that finding a balance may not be easy, but if we fail to address the problem now there will be serious long-term consequences for research and teaching in the UK.'

‘The UK Higher Education sector now spends almost £200m per year on access to journals and databases,' added David Prosser, RLUK’s executive director. ‘We understand the value publishers add to the publication process, but publishers must also understand that they cannot continue to increase prices at a time when budgets are so tight. We do not wish to cancel big deals, but we shall have no alternative unless the largest publishers substantially reduce their prices.’