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Update Dec. 15, 2015

The University of Toronto Libraries thank all faculty, staff and students for their feedback on this review.  Based on the input received, we have determined that there are several Emerald journals in Library and Information Science that serve as core research material. Librarians at the iSchool Inforum are now working to identify  the specific titles that will be retained. Faculty and students are invited to provide further input or ask questions by contacting Elisa Sze, Librarian, Collections & Public Service Coordinator at the iSchool Inforum: elisa.sze@utoronto.ca 416-978-7071

Introduction

The purpose of this page is to outline the Library's analysis of an e-journals package published by the Emerald Group (see here for a full list of titles in this package) and to request your input. To evaluate the package, we utilized standard library metrics:  price, use  and scholarly impact. Based on these factors, we have concluded that the package as a whole does not deliver good value to our researchers. We recognize that faculty and researchers may have other perspectives on the value and utility of the journals in this package and we encourage you to share these with us. Please use the Comments section below, or send your comments to collections.review@library.utoronto.ca by October 30, 2015.  We will communicate the Library's decision via this page in late 2015.

 

Analysis of the Package

The Library has undertaken a review of a package of 120 journals published by the Emerald Group. After carefully considering both the quality of the journals in the package and the price quoted, we have come to the conclusion that the content is overpriced in relation to its scholarly impact. The Library's mandate is to support research and teaching at the University of Toronto and to fulfill this mandate it is crucial that we build collections that meet the information needs of faculty and students while remaining financially sustainable. We believe that committing the Library to a journal package that under-performs in terms of academic value, and is more expensive in terms of price per article than other publishers is not in the best interests of the University.

The package under review contains journals focused on three disciplinary areas: Business & Management, Engineering and Library and Information Science. In undertaking a review of the package, the performance of journals in each of these three subsets was analyzed within the context of that discipline's scholarly output.

Business & Management titles


 

We situated the Emerald journals within a set of peer titles (excluding those published by non-profits) drawn from the Business subject category of ISI's Journal Citation Reports (JCR) (http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7911775). As the chart above shows, the Emerald journals, with one exception, uniformly rank in the lower half of the Impact Factor spectrum for this subject.

To compare subscription costs we used values taken from http://journalprices.com (for methodology on how prices were arrived at see: http://www.journalprices.com/explanation2013.html). The table above illustrates that the Emerald titles are conspicuously more expensive than their peers. In fact, Emerald charges nine times as much per article than other for-profit journals in the Business subject area ($394.02 per article compared to $41.30 for the others in the subject area). Clearly, there is no relationship between the academic impact of a journal in the Emerald collection and its price per article.

 

Information Science titles

We followed a similar methodology in analyzing the titles in the package that relate to Library and Information Science. In the JCR subject area, Information Science & Library Science, the Emerald titles as a group again display a weak correspondence between academic impact and price. While the Impact Factors of the Emerald journals are unremarkable in relation to their peers, the price per article for two of their titles are far above the the norm. Indeed, the highest priced Emerald title, Information Technology & People, comes in at an astonishing $964.14 per article. As a whole, the Emerald titles are almost three times more expensive than their peers ($87.07 per article compared to $29.48 for others in this subject grouping).


Engineering titles

 

For this subset, we again plotted the Engineering journals within a set of peer titles (excluding those published by non-profits) drawn from the Engineering subject categories of ISI's Journal Citation Reports (JCR). As the chart above shows, the Emerald journals rank quite low in terms of their Impact Factor but unusually high in terms of their price per article. To compare subscription costs we used values taken from http://journalprices.com (for methodology on how prices were arrived at see: http://www.journalprices.com/explanation2013.html). The chart above illustrates that the Emerald titles are conspicuously more expensive than their peers in terms of price-per-article published.


 Usage at the University of Toronto

This subpage lists all titles in this package, along with their use in 2014, their Impact Factors (where available), and the subscription cost for each title based on 2015 prices provided by the Emerald publishing group to library staff.

It should be noted that in addition to access directly from Emerald, the Library currently has access to most of the content in this package through both the ProQuest and EBSCO aggregator platforms.These large journal aggregators provide access to the back issues of thousands of journals across many disciplines (some restrictions apply, see the last paragraph). Typically the current year's content is embargoed (2015 content is embargoed this year, but will become available in 2016, and so on). If we cancel the Emerald package, the aggregators may continue to provide us with their content going forward (excluding the embargoed current year). To better understand the impact of this change on our users, the table at the page below isolates use of the most recently published content for each journal. Overall, only 11% of the total use of these journals in 2014 was directed at  content published in the same year.

Full title list and additional details - Emerald package


Implications of Cancelling the Package

It is important to note that this cancellation has no effect on the availability of any content that the library has already acquired from Emerald. As a matter of policy, the University of Toronto - along with our colleagues throughout Ontario - negotiate "local load" clauses into as many publisher contracts as possible. This clause ensures that, in addition to providing access to the licensed content on their own servers, the publishers also send the library a copy. This copy is ours to preserve as part of the scholarly record, and we have the right to provide access to this copy in perpetuity. Generally (and specifically in this case), these preservation and access functions are performed through a shared platform called Scholars Portal, which operates out of the University of Toronto Libraries and provides access to licensed content to universities throughout the province. More information about Scholars Portal is available here. 

As mentioned above, the Library also has access to most of the content in this package through both the ProQuest and EBSCO aggregator platforms.  Even if we cancel the Emerald package, the aggregators may continue to provide us with their content going forward (excluding the embargoed current year). There are caveats to this, however. Firstly, there is no guarantee that an aggregator will continue to provide this content indefinitely – they routinely add and drop journals from their packages. Secondly, the same financial pressures that have led us to re-evaluate our commitment to this Emerald package, equally apply to all the journal packages that we subscribe to. We may in the future find ourselves in the position of having to cancel either or both the ProQuest and EBSCO packages. 

Although most of the journals in this package are not highly used, there will be times when faculty and students require articles from current issues. If the Library decides not to renew this packages, articles from current issues may be requested through our InterLibrary Loan service: https://onesearch.library.utoronto.ca/ill.  Using the ILL service is usually free for University of Toronto faculty and students, and articles normally arrive within a week.

Additionally, if an article from these journals is to be assigned as a class reading, faculty can contact the Libraries' Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office, who are ready to assist in making course readings available while respecting Canadian copyright law and existing university licensing agreements. Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office staff can review article requests and syllabi for copyright compliance, and the Libraries' will also purchase clearance for necessary material at no cost to the instructor.

Your Feedback

The Library can only build collections that support research and teaching at the University by interacting with faculty and students. To let us know your opinion on the possible loss of access to the current content in this journal package, we encourage you to use the Comments section below, or send your comments to collections.review@library.utoronto.ca by October 30, 2015.

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. I applaud this brave decision. The price per article is out of proportion and coupled with the low impact as described, this is not a good use of precious collection dollars. I am confident, when presented with the evidence, that most users will be convinced of the rightness of this decision. 

  2. Anonymous

    It may very well be a brave decision but, if you are not providing the community with an analysis of availability via other platforms, you are not doing your job.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank you for taking the time to visit this page and share your feedback on our review of the Emerald Journal Package. As indicated above, alternative access to most of these titles is available via aggregators like ProQuest and EBSCO. However, aggregators reserve the right to move titles in and out of their offerings and they frequently exercise this right. Therefore, any list of alternative access points we publish to this page is bound to fall out of date and so we’ve opted not to include it. Instead, we recommend looking up any specific journal title using the library’s online catalogue,  which will always reflect the most up-to-date access information available: https://onesearch.library.utoronto.ca/

      Furthermore, we would be happy to investigate any individual journals that you may be concerned with. Please let us know if there are specific journals whose loss might impact your research activities by writing to us at: collections.review@library.utoronto.ca

      With thanks, the Emerald Journals Review Working Group of the University of Toronto Libraries.

       

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