In our negotiations we seek proposals that meet our requirements for TAs or our requirements for OA publishers.
Pricing for OA publishing is typically based on previous APC expenditure. We request that publishers remove ‘In the wild’ APCs before calculating prices.
We use a checklist template to record suitability.
Consulting on proposals
When we receive a proposal from a publisher that fulfils our criteria, we consult with members on its acceptability. Consultation packs typically include an ‘at a glance’ summary, proposal outline, data, and a survey link and questions.
We send consultation packs to primary and secondary ejournal contacts and OA contacts listed in license subscriptions manager and ask for feedback within 4-6 weeks.
When you receive the proposal, you’ll want to assess its suitability for your institution as well as evaluating its performance against other agreements to inform your feedback and decision on signing up. There are several ways to do this.
Case study: University of Liverpool
At the University of Liverpool, five staff from two directorates, collections, content and discovery (CCD) and open research, work together on transitional agreement (TA) proposals.
The group comprises the associate director for CCD, digital library services lead, head of open research, subscriptions manager (SM) and the scholarly communication librarian (SCL). As well as assessing proposals this group can make decisions about signing up to smaller value agreements (no set value, this is at the discretion of the group), and these decisions are made in monthly meetings. For larger value ‘big deal’ agreements, decisions are made by a wider group which includes the CCD/open research group, the library’s deputy director and faculty librarians.
Assessing publisher offers has long been a core function of CCD but this has been an additional task for the scholarly communication Librarian (SCL) to take on. It was important for the teams to design a process for working with TAs as quickly as possible because of the rapid increase in proposals for CCD staff to assess, which also required the SCL to dedicate more of her time to gold open access (OA) administrative tasks.
To make the assessment process as efficient as possible the teams developed a set of principles which outline criteria for different proposal types and an alternative to budget management (pdf). This draft document is awaiting sign-off at senior level but the teams can refer to it as needed.
The teams have developed two workflows: one for assessing new proposals (pdf) during the negotiation and the other for evaluating new agreements (pdf) that are available to sign up to. They use an evaluation form they created (pdf) to capture the key information and considerations that inform recommendations to senior colleagues. End to end, the process for assessing most proposals is estimated to take approximately 5.5 staff hours and the process for evaluating new agreements takes approximately 8.5 staff hours.
The teams involved in this work aren’t co-located but have established effective communication channels. The CCD/open research Group have monthly meetings, plus extra as needed. Microsoft Teams is used for other discussions and to share APC data and subscriptions data.
The SM is responsible for sharing consultation documents with colleagues but responses to consultation surveys are sent jointly by the SM and the head of open research.
The SM and the SCL both agreed that ‘the data takes most time”. This is partly due to the volume of data to be gathered and checked (Liverpool spend £5m on subscriptions and approximately £1m on APCs each year) but this challenge also highlights the need for a certain level of data analysis skills in the staff involved in this work. Standardised data from publishers, which Jisc is seeking, will simplify the checks that need to be carried out.
The SM and SCL noted the potential for tension in discussions between supporting teaching demands on one hand and the principles of open research on the other and highlighted the value of Liverpool’s principles document in providing balance in discussions and decision-making.
The process in place is working smoothly for all involved but Liverpool see benefits in restructuring budgets to simplify decision making and OA fund management. Further discussions are needed to determine whether this is practically possible.
Investment per article (IPA)
Use this methodology to model cost scenarios and determine if the agreement will be cost-effective, sustainable and affordable for your institution.
The IPA is a metric and benchmark used by Jisc and other consortia to evaluate the value delivered under TAs by arriving at a per article value for OA publishing and reading. It can also be used at an institutional level to determine if an agreement will provide value for money.
IPA = total spend ÷ estimated number of articles published
As this approach models cost scenarios the number of articles published will be an estimate of the number of articles you think your institution will publish under this agreement.
Cost per download
Cost per download is the traditional metric used to assess the value of a subscription agreement.
Cost per download = subscribed usage ÷ total subscription spend
‘Subscribed usage’ is available from JUSP. Under Counter Release 4 it can be found using JR1 – JR1GOA. Under Counter Release 5 the ‘Total item requests (Controlled use only, excluding OA Gold)’ can be used for subscribed usage but COUNTER R5 ‘Unique item requests’ provides a more accurate metric for calculating usage and cost per usage.
NB. The traditional method of calculating cost per download will become less meaningful as TAs are adopted. Methodologies that reflect the dual nature of TAs and still allow evaluation of agreements in a quantitative way will be more useful.
Cost avoidance and offsetting
Calculating cost avoidance of APCs in agreements with a publish fee and a read fee is one way to assess savings.
Cost avoidance = publish fee — total value of articles published under the agreement
Calculate the value of APCs for articles published under the agreement by multiplying the number of articles published by the list price or negotiated APC. If the total value of articles published is higher than the publish fee you have paid, you have ‘offset’ your APC expenditure and the monetary value can be seen in terms of cost avoidance.
Adjusted cost per download
Cost per download can still be helpful for evaluating agreements including a ‘read’ element. Calculating an adjusted CPD can determine the value derived from the publish element of the agreement.
Adjusted cost per download = (read fee — cost avoidance) ÷ usage
This method offsets the savings from the publishing fee against the read fee, to find the actual read fee. Dividing this figure by the usage data from JUSP gives the accurate or adjusted cost per download.
Other ways to measure or demonstrate the value of an agreement to your institution include:
- Inter-library loans (ILL) – Some TAs may include access to the full collection at no extra cost. You may see savings on ILL requests and staff time as well as being able to evidence an increase in immediate fulfilment of your users’ needs.
- Citations and altmetrics - open content is reported to have increased usage, monitoring downloads, altmetrics and citations will provide useful insights on the geographical reach of articles as well as interest from professions and policy makers. This evidence may be useful in tracking the societal impact of research.
NB. These measures are best suited to evaluating the performance of an agreement as it is approaching the end of its term. This analysis should help you to determine if the new agreement may be of value to your institution.
Feedback on proposals informs our responses to publishers in the next stage of negotiations and we provide subscribers with a summary of survey feedback and publisher responses. Throughout negotiations we provide progress updates in our monthly reports sent to the Jisc Collections Consortium mailing list.
Once the terms of the agreement are reached, we create a product page in licence subscriptions manager. This includes a summary overview of the agreement and order options as well as the offer document and licence.
At this stage of negotiations, we work with publishers and some of our members, including the RLUK OAPP Group, to agree author-facing communication about agreements provided by the publisher.
When the agreement is available to order we send a message to the Jisc Collections Consortium mailing list. We may also announce agreements on the Jisc news page and the Jisc Collections Twitter account (@jisccollections).
In line with OA2020 principles we register agreements that meet our OA requirements in the ESAC registry. This is a vital step to ensure that agreements are visualised in the Plan S Journal Checker Tool.
At this stage, publishers work directly with subscribers on set up and implementation but our helpdesk and licensing managers are also available to provide support.