Life without a Journal Deal

What is it like to work at a library where the largest journal subscription deal was terminated? How do the researchers really feel about it? And what solutions are recommended?

In this episode, we explore what Swedish librarians and researchers experienced during the time period when they didn’t have a journal deal with Elsevier (from 2018-2020). Did they manage? Did they save money? And did the researchers from the institution really voice their concerns?

Our guest is Cecilie Heyman Widmark, she is a librarian working with Open Access, Media and Publishing at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

“Big problems”

In 2019 Widmark’s colleague Göran Hamrin did a larger survey on their researchers’ experience with the cancelation of the Elsevier deal.

Hamrin is the KTH Library Director of Studies and a Lecturer in Library and Information Science at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. He is also a mathematician, logician, philosopher, librarian and information scientist.

Hamrin contacted 916 KTH-researchers who made article requests between August of 2018 to March of 2019.  He also did 31 interviews.

He presented parts of the survey at the Munin Conference in late 2019 together with Widmark.

It’s really interesting because in the video Hamrin states that the main takeaways are as follow:

  • That the cancellation has created a big problem.
  • That KTH has saved some (a lot of) money by not subscribing to Elsevier.
  • That they can give a very good service with the money saved by providing Get-it-now and negotiated transformative deals for OA publishing with other publishers.
  • That top-class researchers at KTH have limited insights into the Bibsam Consortium (and the Coalition S’) arguments for cancellation and the aggregated economics on a national level.

These are really good learning points for others who are interested in following the same path.

You can watch the entire video-presentation with Widmark and Hamrin here.

New deal

Now, as of 2020, Sweden does have a new deal with Elsevier.  They signed a Read & Publish agreement with the publisher Elsevier. This means that KTH researchers will have access to the publisher’s 2000 journals once more. In addition, all Swedish research articles will be published open access.

And if you want to learn more about this deal in Sweden, you should listen to our podcast episode from when the deal was made.

You can also listen to the episodes made when Norway’s consortium canceled their deal – or when they made a new one.