In 2013 the University of California Libraries discontinued UC's systemwide subscription to a large package of journals provided by the publisher Taylor & Francis. This collective decision was made after months of negotiations, during which the publisher rejected all of UC's proposals to moderate license costs.
In recent years major journal packages, often called "big deals," have transformed library purchasing in both positive and negative ways. They have allowed UC to purchase and share a much larger and diverse collection of journals at a lower unit price than would be possible for any single campus acting on its own. They have also helped slow the dramatic double-digit journal pricing inflation that has been typical in scholarly publishing over the last decade.
On the negative side, with the exponential growth in scholarly journal publishing, the large fixed expenditures inherent in big deals have become unsustainable in a time of budget austerity. At UCSB, journal subscriptions account for nearly seventy percent of the Library's collection expenditures, and almost half of that is spent on the three largest UC-licensed publisher packages. The big deals have taken an increasing share of the collections budget at the expense of monograph purchasing and journal subscriptions from smaller publishers, including societies. When budgets are cut or remain flat, there is no recourse but to scale back large ongoing commitments in order to preserve the Library's ability to support a range of disciplinary needs across the campus, including new research programs and curricula. The Library's objective in this process is to preserve the positive value provided by large journal publishers while judiciously trimming content based on sound and objective principles.
UC’s decision to target Taylor & Francis for cost savings was based on a thorough analysis of its journal packages using objective measures of value. Undertaken in 2012, the analysis used metrics that combined external factors such as journal impact with UC-centric data on campus usage, UC citations, and average cost per use and per impact. These data were normalized by academic discipline across all of the UC packages. The analysis enabled UC to determine the overall value of each licensed package relative to the others, to compare the performance of journals from the same publisher, and to compare journals within the same discipline regardless of publisher. The data clearly showed that although the Taylor & Francis package contained some journals of high value, as a whole it provided the least value compared to UC's other major packages.
With the discontinuation of UC’s Taylor & Francis license, individual campuses have locally licensed selected titles from the package. Approximately seventy percent of the titles in the original package will still be available within the UC system, so a majority of Taylor & Francis articles will be available for quick delivery to UCSB faculty and students via interlibrary loan. Also, all UC campuses will retain perpetual online access to back issues of the previously subscribed content.
At UCSB, we have committed to license selected Taylor & Francis titles that provide high value for the campus based on UCSB usage, research emphases, cost per use, and similar measures. In this way, we work to ensure that our budget aligns cost with value as effectively as possible so that we can provide access to the materials most needed for research and teaching across the disciplinary spectrum.