Cost of Academic Journals

Richard Stevenson made this Freedom of Information request to Anglia Ruskin University

The request was partially successful.

From: Richard Stevenson

23 January 2011

Dear Anglia Ruskin University,

I am writing to request the annual cost of subscriptions to
academic journals, paper or electronic.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Stevenson

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From: foi
Anglia Ruskin University

24 January 2011

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your request.

Kind regards
Jackie Barlow
University Records Manager

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From: foi
Anglia Ruskin University

9 February 2011

Dear Mr Stevenson,

Thank you for your request for information.

I would advise that it is difficult to calculate the annual cost of all
subscriptions to journals, magazines, papers etc at Anglia Ruskin University.
Collating this information from our various faculties and service areas is
likely to exceed the time limit of 18 hours.

Therefore, I would be grateful if you could either forward your cheque for
£450 (i.e. 18 hours x £25) or alternatively scale down your request.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

With kind regards
Jackie Barlow

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From: Richard Stevenson

9 February 2011

Dear Anglia Ruskin University,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of
Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Anglia Ruskin
University's handling of my FOI request 'Cost of Academic
Journals'.

This same request has been made to a number of other institutions
without incurring any cost. I also feel compelled to comment that
the fact that this is not easily retrievable from your routine
accounting is somewhat surprising to say the least.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is
available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/co...

Yours faithfully,

Richard Stevenson

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From: Bennett, Steve
Anglia Ruskin University

9 February 2011

Dear Mr Stevenson,
Your email has been forwarded to me for review.
Whatever the situation elsewhere we do not discriminate in all cost headings
between books, other media and academic journals. To do so is increasingly
meaningless.
It is for this reason that Ms Barlow has replied as she has.
I would suggest, therefore, that either you amend your request or we will
provide an estimate of the cost of a manual analysis.
Stephen Bennett.
The Secretary and Clerk.

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Richard Stevenson left an annotation ( 9 February 2011)

Quote-marks This has been forwarded to the ICO. I will annotate further proceedings here.

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From: Richard Stevenson

9 February 2011

Dear Mr Bennett,

Thankyou for your correspondence. I have forwarded this matter to
the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Stevenson

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From: Bennett, Steve
Anglia Ruskin University

9 February 2011

Noted but let me be very clear.
Since we do not hold the data in a form which will allow easy access to the
precise detail of what you have requested we cannot disclose it without
further analysis. The fact that some other identified universities may hold
data in another way really is neither here nor there: there is no standard
cost structure for the sector.
We have offered to carry out the analysis or to respond to an alternative
enquiry.
I cannot imagine, on this basis, what conceivable ground there is for
reference to the Commissioner.
Stephen Bennett.

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From: Bennett, Steve
Anglia Ruskin University

9 February 2011

My attention has been drawn to your website which contains a gross
misrepresentation of our position.
We have refused to disclose nothing : it is you who have declined to cover
our costs of disclosure as provided by the Act.
Please correct the statement.
Stephen Bennett.

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From: Richard Stevenson

9 February 2011

Dear Stephen,

Thank-you for your correspondence. While I do not have a personal
website, I presume you're referring to the fact that this request
has been processed through whatdotheyknow.com. This is an online
tool to more easily administer the making and sharing of FoI
requests. When a response is received the site allows a number of
classifications and suggests further actions based on those
classifications. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to account for the
potential for public bodies to request payment, had it done so I
would have classified the responses received more accurately.
Circumstance being how they were, I selected refusal as the most
appropriate response, given that the data is not being supplied
without a payment, which I am not going to make. While contingent,
refusal pending payment is still refusal.

I am sure that you will be pleased to learn that this tool also
publishes all correspondence related to the request in full, so any
misrepresentation in terms of classification or in annotation
should be clear. Information for FoI officers is provided at the
following address: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offic...

It remains my opinion that it would take less than eighteen person
hours to conduct the necessary work. The form for the ICO does make
room for disputes over charging, and has been completed on that
basis. The ICO may, of course, disagree with me, which is their
prerogative.

I hope that you are satisfied with this response.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Stevenson

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Richard Taylor left an annotation ( 9 February 2011)

Quote-marks I think it is very clear this is effectively a refusal on cost grounds, relying implicitly on the exemption in S.12 of the Freedom of Information Act[1] (Exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit).

The suggestion that the requestor could pay them £450 is bizarre; it looks to me more like an unprofessional jibe from the records manager than a serious option being presented.

Also the university have not provided any detail as to how they have estimated providing the information sought would take more than 18 hours, and they have not come up with an estimate for how long they expect it to take in total. It isn't clear at all what the requestor would get if a payment of £450 was made. After all they've stated 18 hours wouldn't be enough to deal with the request!

As an aside, any payment such as they one they're suggesting would presumably be made under S.13 of the FOIA[2]. There's no requirement for public bodies to release information if to do so costs more than the cost limit; even if someone pays them to do so; though they can do so if they, and the requestor, wish.

It might be worth asking now for a detailed breakdown of how long they expect dealing with the request to take, they have said they will supply this on request and I suspect it will be one of the first things the ICO seek when they come to review the case. Proactively requesting it could speed things up.

Also I don't think the university has been particularly good at providing advice and assistance, as S.16 of the FOI Act[3] requires them to do. They have not made any suggestions as to how the request could be narrowed to bring it within the cost limit.

1. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...
2. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...
3. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...

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From: Richard Stevenson

10 February 2011

Dear Mr Bennett,

Reviewing the correspondence with relation to my FoI request 'Cost
of Academic Journals,' it seems that it would be remiss of me not
to allow you to prepare a full estimate for the cost of the work.
Therefore, if you are happy to supply an estimated cost that would
allow the work to take place, then I will be happy to consider it.

Further to your concern about the classification of this request
online, should you agree to prepare a proper estimate I will mark
the request as pending rather than refused. Please be advised that
I can only change the status of the request on receipt of new
correspondence from the university. Therefore, while the status
remains "refused," I will review this in light of any relevant
communication I receive.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Stevenson

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From: Richard Stevenson

10 February 2011

Dear Mr. Bennett,

It turns out that the status can indeed be changed. I have now set
the status as waiting for a response to internal review. I look
forward to receiving the estimated costs.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Stevenson

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From: Bennett, Steve
Anglia Ruskin University

10 February 2011

Dear Mr Stevenson,
Thankyou for your email and I note that you will change your classification.

It would help us to respond if we knew what it is you are trying to discover.
This is not an area of any great sensitivity and our concerns are essentially
practical

You have asked for our expenditure on journals.

As I have already explained, journals are just one part of a wider budget
heading and given our delegated budget structure with circa 20 faculties and
support services the only way that we can extract the detail you have asked
for so far is to sit down and manually examine literally thousands of
invoices.

Our estimate of the time for this is in excess of two working weeks, maybe
more, for a member of our finance staff and at a cost well in excess of the
statutory maximum.

We have, therefore, discussed the matter with the Commissioner's Office and
would invite you to amend your request in the light of the above.
Stephen Bennett.

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From: Richard Stevenson

10 February 2011

Dear Mr. Bennett,

The reason for the request is that I'm interested in discovering
the extent of any growth in the cost to HE institutions of academic
journal subscriptions. I made the initial request on one of my more
tired moments, and should have actually requested the costs over
the past 5 years for consistency. Obviously this does little for
your practical concerns regarding the collation of the data, and I
do appreciate that your accounts are not organised for the benefit
of people requesting information through FoI channels.

I am primarily interested in the journal subscriptions made
generally available to students and academic staff through your
library services, including the costs of electronic subscriptions,
which I had presumed would be dealt with through library services
as well.

Put in these terms, are you really sure that library spend on
journals isn't accounted for in a way that can't be simply
retrieved? As serials it seems to me that they are a recurrent,
annual cost, and therefore somewhat distinct from other media that
the library may purchase.

If the information is not retrievable without substantial cost
there's obviously no point in quibbling over or labouring the
issue, although I am still very interested to hear from the ICO on
the matter. I'm unable to pay £450 in fees to have the data
collated should that be what is necessary. If you are unable to
supply a lower quote for this request, which is hopefully now more
refined, could you please suggest modifications that I could make
that would allow me to obtain some sort of useful data given the
interests that I have detailed?

Yours sincerely,

Richard Stevenson

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From: Bennett, Steve
Anglia Ruskin University

10 February 2011

I am out of the office until 14 February 2011 . During this period I
will not access emails . If your query is urgent then please contact
my PA, Louise Andrews 0845 196 3719. Out of hours our security team may
be contacted on 0845 196 3628

~EMERGING EXCELLENCE: In the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008, more
than 30% of our submissions were rated as 'Internationally Excellent' or
'World-leading'.
Among the academic disciplines now rated 'World-leading' are Allied Health
Professions & Studies; Art & Design; English Language & Literature;
Geography & Environmental Studies; History; Music; Psychology; and Social
Work & Social Policy & Administration.
Visit www.anglia.ac.uk/rae for more information.

This e-mail and any attachments are intended for the above named
recipient(s) only and may be privileged. If they have come to you in error
you must take no action based on them, nor must you copy or show them to
anyone: please reply to this e-mail to highlight the error and then
immediately delete the e-mail from your system.

Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not
necessarily represent the views or opinions of Anglia Ruskin University.

Although measures have been taken to ensure that this e-mail and
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From: Bennett, Steve
Anglia Ruskin University

10 February 2011

I am just off to catch a plane, but believe that our library spend is
extractable. I will check on my return.
However, with respect that isn't what you asked for: thus our protracted
correspondence.
Stephen Bennett

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From: Richard Stevenson

10 February 2011

Dear Mr. Bennett,

Thank-you for your reply. I look forward to hearing more on your
return.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Stevenson

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From: Richard Stevenson

17 February 2011

Dear Steve,

I hope your journey went well. Have you had a chance to see if you
can retrieve the information I requested?

Yours sincerely,

Richard Stevenson

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From: Bennett, Steve
Anglia Ruskin University

18 February 2011

Dear Mr Stevenson,
Now that you have clarified your request I can confirm that the data is
available and Mrs Barlow will arrange for disclosure in the usual way.
Stephen Bennett.

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From: Barlow, Jackie
Anglia Ruskin University

4 March 2011

Dear Mr Stevenson,

I refer to your request for information under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000 regarding our spend on academic journals.

I can respond as follows:-

The total spend was approximately -L-403k for 2009/10 (this includes print
only, some electronic and print and some electronic only).

With kind regards

Jackie

Jacqueline Barlow ACIB MBA

University Records Manager

Secretary & Clerk's Office

3rd Floor, Tindal Building

Chelmsford Campus

Anglia Ruskin University

Bishop Hall Lane

Chelmsford

CM1 1SQ

Direct line:- 0845 196 4215

email:- [1][email address]

~EMERGING EXCELLENCE: In the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008, more
than 30% of our submissions were rated as 'Internationally Excellent' or
'World-leading'.
Among the academic disciplines now rated 'World-leading' are Allied Health
Professions & Studies; Art & Design; English Language & Literature;
Geography & Environmental Studies; History; Music; Psychology; and Social
Work & Social Policy & Administration.
Visit www.anglia.ac.uk/rae for more information.

This e-mail and any attachments are intended for the above named
recipient(s) only and may be privileged. If they have come to you in error
you must take no action based on them, nor must you copy or show them to
anyone: please reply to this e-mail to highlight the error and then
immediately delete the e-mail from your system.

Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not
necessarily represent the views or opinions of Anglia Ruskin University.

Although measures have been taken to ensure that this e-mail and
attachments are free from any virus we advise that, in keeping with good
computing practice, the recipient should ensure they are actually virus
free. Please note that this message has been sent over public networks
which may not be a 100% secure communications

[2]Email has been scanned for viruses by Altman Technologies' email
management service

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.altman.co.uk/emailsystems

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From: Richard Stevenson

10 March 2011

Dear Barlow, Jackie,

Thanks very much. Could you please supply an accurate figure? I
imagine this will have been prepared for your annual SCONUL
statistical return.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Stevenson

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