UK deal allows evaluation of journal agreements

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University of Cambridge is a subscriber

SCONUL, the professional association for academic and research libraries, and Jisc, the not-for-profit technology provider for research and education, have negotiated a national agreement with not-for-profit Our Research.

The agreement will help individual SCONUL members in the UK to use Unsub, a data analysis and dashboard tool that enables libraries and consortia to independently assess the value of the journal subscriptions they hold with publishers. 

The agreement will also allow universities to assess and share various scenarios of selecting journal titles. Modelling different scenarios gives university libraries greater insight into the value of their subscription packages, with the opportunity to share their outcomes with the Jisc consortium to enable greater oversight in support of national negotiation activities. 

Ann Rossiter, executive director of SCONUL, said: 'We are really pleased to support SCONUL members in obtaining greater insight into the value of their academic journal subscriptions. We believe that price transparency and user statistics will help institutional decision-making, especially in these times of financial uncertainty.' 

As reported by Research Information, Jisc already uses a dashboard developed by Unsub, bringing together data on journal subscription fees at a national level. This data informs in their negotiations with publishers. Members will have access to selected views of this dashboard to understand the national picture.  

Jason Priem, co-founder of Our Research, said: 'We are delighted to be working with SCONUL to support UK institutions. The Unsub dashboard will streamline workflows and can estimate the extent to which open access (OA) scholarly articles can replace existing subscription access. Due to the growth of OA, more than half of newly-published articles are now free to read.'  

The agreement has been arranged in response to sector demand following a consultation by SCONUL. 

Caren Milloy, director of licensing at Jisc, commented: 'This national agreement recognises the value of working collectively in terms of Jisc streamlining effort through the central provision of data to the tool. Also, in working with Unsub we enable institutions to model and assess different scenarios that can be shared centrally to inform negotiations.' 

Unsub is currently used by more than 400 research libraries worldwide, with the latest subscribing UK institutions being the  University of Cambridge and  Lancaster University. However, the new partnership will allow Jisc to extend Unsub’s data-driven insights beyond these individual universities, to encompass the entire UK higher education sector. In doing so, Jisc will join other consortia Unsub users, including the  Canadian Research Knowledge Network  (Canada), the  Council of Australian University Librarians  (Australia and New Zealand), the Joint University Librarians Advisory Committee  (Hong Kong)  and  LYRASIS (USA), among others.