Development of Deal- and Journal-level Metrics and Methods Assists Librarians to Evaluate Big Deals

Kathleen Reed


A Review of:
Blecic, D.D., Wiberley, Jr., S.E., Fiscella, J.B., Bahnmaier-Blaszczak, S., & Lowery, R. (2013). Deal or no deal?: Evaluating Big Deals and their journals. College & Research Libraries, 74(2), 178-193.

Objective – To assess the value of aggregated journal packages (Big Deals) and to select individual journal titles for continued subscription should a deal be cancelled.

Design – Case study.

Setting – Doctoral research university library in the United States of America.

Subjects – Three anonymous Big Deals.

Methods – The authors define metrics at two levels (deal and journal) to evaluate Big Deal packages. The metrics rely heavily on the COUNTER JR1 metric Successful Full-Text Article Request (SFTAR).

Main Results – The authors found that while 30% of journals provide 80% of SFTARs, the cost of subscribing to these journals individually would not save significant sums of money. Additionally, they speculate that library users would increase the number of interlibrary loan requests to access the 20% of SFTARs that would be inaccessible if a Big Deal was cut, amounting to increased costs.

Conclusion – With no sign of publishers moving to change the price and conditions of Big Deals, these arrangements are becoming unsustainable for libraries. As this occurs, librarians require methods of assessing which deals to keep and which to cut, as well as evidence of to which individual journals they should subscribe. The authors of this paper set out one method of conducting these assessments that they have found to be useful at an academic library. They conclude by stating that even with SFTAR data, individuals must keep in mind the necessity of providing equitable access to all of a university community’s user groups.


academic librarianship; collections; big deals; assessment

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