Academic journals costs & use

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear University of Abertay Dundee,

This is an information request under the Freedom of Information Act of 2000.

I would like to be provided with the following information about academic/scientific journals specifically. For the latest ten financial or calendar years available:

#1 - How much the institution has been spending annually for all of its subscribed online access to academic journals for each publisher the institution has any academic journal subscription with? Per year?

#2 - How much the institution has been spending annually for each individually-subscribed journal (“à la carte”, not part of a bundle package)? What are these journals (their title?) and how much were they each year?

#3 - What is the number of successful full-text article requests for each subscribed journal (and its title) for each of the latest ten financial or calendar years? Note: I would like the data as well even if a given journal was not part of the university’s academic journal subscriptions at some point during that decade, either because of a subscription that happened later or because of the cancellation of a subscription. If so, please indicate it clearly for the year for which it applies (for instance, with an “X”, “Not subscribed”, etc.).

Please provide the data in a data file format like .csv .xslx, etc. Unless it would be much easier or quicker for you otherwise, please provide the requested data in three separate documents (one for Question #1, another for #2, and the last one for #3).

Some parts of this request may be easier to answer than others, and should this prove to be the case I would ask that you release available data as soon as possible rather than hold up the entire request.

Please let me know if my request exceeds the resources limit levelled by the FOI Act of 2000, and I would be glad to narrow it down. It is legally required for the institution to let me know if that is the case.

As well, if you need any clarification, then please contact me via email. Under your section 16 duty to provide advice and assistance I would expect you to contact me if you find this request unmanageable in any way.

I thank you very much, please do not hesitate to contact me if needed.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Carufel

Freedom of Information, University of Abertay Dundee

Dear Mr Carufel,

 

Thank you for your enquiry, which has been logged and passed to the
relevant department within the University for processing.  Please quote
the reference number on the subject line above, should you need to contact
the University regarding this request.

 

The University will make every effort to provide you with the information
requested; if any clarification is required, the University will contact
you as soon as possible.

 

In some circumstances, it may not be possible to provide you with an
answer to your enquiry.  Where the University believes this is the case,
you will be informed in writing, stating the reason(s).

 

If the information you are seeking is already published by the University,
or is otherwise available to members of the public, you will be sent
details outlining how to access the information.

 

You will be advised if it is necessary for the University to charge a fee
to cover the costs of processing your request.  Should this be the case,
please note the information cannot be released until such payment is
received.

 

If you have any questions regarding your request for information, please
contact:

 

FOI Processing

Academic Registry

Abertay University

Bell Street

DUNDEE  DD1 1HG

E-mail:  foi[1]@abertay.ac.uk

 

Yours sincerely,

 

FOI Processing

Academic Registry

 

Abertay University is a registered Scottish charity, no. SC016040

 

 

References

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1. mailto:[email address]
mailto:[email address]

Freedom of Information, University of Abertay Dundee

Dear Mr Carufel

 

Thanks for your request received recently, which has been under
consideration.   We thought it might be helpful to contact you, as you
suggested, to let you know how things are looking at the moment and to ask
for your clarification on how to proceed, please.  Your requests are below
in bold, with our comments below that.

 

#1 - How much the institution has been spending annually for all of its
subscribed online access to academic journals for each publisher the
institution has any academic journal subscription with? Per year? [For the
latest ten financial or calendar years available]

 

Providing information about spend with individual publishers is not
straightforward.  The University provides in excess of 12,000 journal
titles, and has arrangements with many different publishers.  The
information on our finance system, from which we would run the report,
does not break the information down in the way you have requested since
many payments are made to agents/intermediaries, rather than directly to
the publisher themselves (i.e. the finance system would just report on the
name of the agent handling the payment in these instances). 

 

In addition, to respond fully to this question fully would require the
University to retrieve the licence or other contract details for each
product, review its contents, and to consult the publisher if it is found
upon this review that the publisher has stipulated that we must inform
them if we have been asked to release information about the commercial
aspects of our contract. The process of retrieving the licence
information, and entering into possible correspondence with publishers
and/or 3^rd parties would be time-consuming (and there would also need to
be consideration whether to apply the exemption for
commercially-confidential information in section 33(1)(b) of the Freedom
of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, so it is likely that information would
be withheld under this exemption). 

 

However, the University could provide you with a total figure for the
annual spend on all of its journal subscriptions, together with this
information for the previous 4 years. This figure would represent the
totality of expenditure, as recorded on our finance system, rather than
what is spent for each publisher.

 

#2 - How much the institution has been spending annually for each
individually-subscribed journal (“à la carte”, not part of a bundle
package)? What are these journals (their title?) and how much were they
each year? [For the latest ten financial or calendar years available]

 

Please see response to #1 above.

 

What we can provide is a figure for 5 years of the total spend on journal
‘bundles’ together with the total spend on individual titles (the vast
majority of our expenditure is on the former). Again, this would not be
broken down by individual publisher

 

#3 - What is the number of successful full-text article requests for each
subscribed journal (and its title) for each of the latest ten financial or
calendar years? Note: I would like the data as well even if a given
journal was not part of the university’s academic journal subscriptions at
some point during that decade, either because of a subscription that
happened later or because of the cancellation of a subscription. If so,
please indicate it clearly for the year for which it applies (for
instance, with an “X”, “Not subscribed”, etc.).

 

The University does not hold this information at individual journal level
on its own systems. 

 

Although we could run reports on each bundle at a title level - by going
direct to the publisher dashboards - this would also be time consuming
given the breadth and depth of the request. Moreover, while this
functionality is available for the ‘bundle’ products, not all the
individual titles that we provide electronically have such
dashboards/reporting functionality and providing the information you have
asked for would therefore require us to request it direct from the
publisher.

 

Given that the member of staff in this area would cost the maximum allowed
£15 per hour, and that there is well over a week’s work involved in
gathering all the information that is being requested, we would highlight
that under section 12 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
and related regulations, there is an excessive cost ceiling of £600 beyond
which the University is not required to provide information in response to
a request.

 

However, we can easily provide information to you  about full-text article
requests for each ‘bundle’ of publisher specific journals, although only
for the last 3 years, as 10 years’-worth of data is not retained. 
Providing more detailed information within the parameters above would
require a large amount of staff time, and would be likely to result in a
refusal under the provisions for excessive cost.

 

There are provisions where the University may be able to levy a charge
where the cost of information is less than £600.  The maximum charge is
£50. 

 

However, what we could do - without needing to invoice you - would be to
restrict the scope of our response. Please let me know if you are happy to
proceed on this basis.  Meantime, I’ll pop your request “on hold” until we
hear back from you.  We’ll re-start work on it once we receive your
clarification.

 

I hope that this is helpful, and I look forward to hearing from you. 
Thank you very much for your assistance.

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI Processing

Academic Registry

Bell Street | DUNDEE | DD1 1HG

E  [1][University of Abertay Dundee request email]

T  01382 308000

 

 

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[University of Abertay Dundee request email]

Dear University of Abertay Dundee Information team,

Before anything, I would like to thank you for this very detailed and solutions-focused reply. I really appreciate the effort put in the clarity of it, this is very helpful!

I totally accept to reduce the time period of my request. Your reply suggest a period of 3, 4 or 5 years depending on the bit of information. This is fine for anything that is available!

I also accept that, for the reasons you provided, not everything will be able to be reported within the reduced time period.

Taking into account your explanations, I would like to know if I could reword my request as follows:

I would like to know...

a- a list of all subscribed journal titles for each of those years (reduced as explained above), and if possible, broken down by type of subscription (it can very well be reported in multiple documents if that can help. I would leave out that type of subscription part if this is likely to exceed the cost limit)

b- the total of subscriptions expenditures, broken down by type of subscription (more precisely, to whom the payment was made: "bundle/publisher/database" vs "individual", for example), as explained below in your response:s

"However, the University could provide you with a total figure for the
annual spend on all of its journal subscriptions, together with this
information for the previous 4 years. This figure would represent the
totality of expenditure, as recorded on our finance system, rather than
what is spent for each publisher.s
[...]
What we can provide is a figure for 5 years of the total spend on journal
‘bundles’ together with the total spend on individual titles (the vast
majority of our expenditure is on the former). Again, this would not be
broken down by individual publisher."

c- the usage data (full-text article requests) for publisher-specific bundles only, for the last 3 years as you suggested.

d- Lastly, I would be still interested in being able to associate costs to publications, either broken down by title, publisher or agent/intermediary. I understand there can be hundreds of publishers for which you would have to review their contracts to see if the info is allowed to be released in the context of a FOI. Could it be narrowed down to, say, the 5 or 10 biggest organisations (either agent/intermediary or publisher directly) to which Abertay Dundee is making a payment?

Please let me know if all this could result in the success of my information request. I am happy to discuss it again, of course!

Yours sincerely,

Steve Carufel

Freedom of Information, University of Abertay Dundee

3 Atodiad

Dear Mr Carufel

 

Please find attached the response to your request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

FOI Processing

Academic Registry

Abertay University | Bell Street | Dundee | DD1 1HG

E  [1][University of Abertay Dundee request email]

T  01382 308000

 

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[University of Abertay Dundee request email]

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for this.

I would like the institution to confirm something, included in the FOI DATA.pdf document.

The list of all "bundle packages" to which the institution subscribes are all packages for which its content (journal titles) cannot be amended/negotiated? For example, ScienceDirect (Elsevier) comes with a given list of publications, and it's either the full set or no bundle? Like, to put it simply, there is no "light", "medium", or "full set" versions of a given package, is that right? Can the institution confirm this is the case?

And can the institution confirm that all those packages have the list of their content totally available online, with no need for me to request it to them?

Thank you!

Yours sincerely,

Steve Carufel

Andrew Phillips, University of Abertay Dundee

Dear Mr Carufel

 

Please see replies below.

 

We hope that this is helpful.

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI Processing

Academic Registry

Abertay University | Bell Street | Dundee | DD1 1HG

E  [1][University of Abertay Dundee request email]

T  01382 308000

 

I would like the institution to confirm something, included in the FOI
DATA.pdf document.

 

The list of all "bundle packages" to which the institution subscribes are
all packages for which its content (journal titles) cannot be
amended/negotiated? For example, ScienceDirect (Elsevier) comes with a
given list of publications, and it's either the full set or no bundle?
Like, to put it simply, there is no "light", "medium", or "full set"
versions of a given package, is that right? Can the institution confirm
this is the case?

 

Please see below.

 

And can the institution confirm that all those packages have the list of
their content totally available online, with no need for me to request it
to them?

 

The University can confirm that there is no room for negotiation in what
titles we subscribe to - the packages are standard - where we deal direct
with the publisher and/or aggregator.  It’s not a situation where we can
say 'we only want this % of titles, please make us an offer" . 
Information on these products is freely available on the supplier websites
e.g. title lists for all of our ebsco products are at
[2]https://www.ebsco.com/products/research-...

 

The packages that are negotiated on behalf of the UK sector by JISC
collections [3]https://www.jisc.ac.uk/jisc-collections may  - in some
examples - however offer institutions some options in terms of level of
coverage, but as this is a UK wide situation, information on the deals
negotiated by JISC and then offered to the sector could be sought directly
from JISC.  Others are standard, with the title list for Elsevier's
ScienceDirect Freedom Collection being available at
[4]https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/scien...

 

JISC is not formally covered by FOI legislation but normally they reply to
requests in the spirit of the legislation: 
[5]https://www.jisc.ac.uk/contact  

 

We hope that this is helpful.

 

Thank you!

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Steve Carufel

 

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[University of Abertay Dundee request email]
2. https://www.ebsco.com/products/research-...
3. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/jisc-collections
4. https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/scien...
5. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/contact
7. http://www.abertay.ac.uk/
8. https://twitter.com/AbertayUni
9. https://www.linkedin.com/edu/school?id=1...
10. https://www.facebook.com/AbertayUni

Dear Andrew Phillips,

Thank you very much for this explanation, it is helpful!

Yours sincerely,

Steve Carufel