No. Most of the online resources that Brock scholars use are paid for by the Library through subscriptions and licenses, although they may often appear to work seamlessly with other freely available online tools (eg. Google scholar). These resources are usually quite expensive. Additionally, many disciplines still rely heavily on print material.
This is the result of several issues. One issue is currency fluctuation. Most of the resources purchased come from outside of Canada. Changes in currency exchange rates can result in resource costs increasing. Another issue is annual price inflation. For scholarly resources the inflation rate can be as high as 6%-9% a year on average while the library’s collection budget remains mostly static. As well, some materials have price increases beyond the inflation rate every year, making it even more difficult to find ongoing funds for these materials. Academic journals from commercial publishers are an example of this.
Journal subscription prices have increased steadily over the last few decades. Journals produced by commercial publishers are also about 5 times the price of those published by professional or academic societies. New journals are frequently created, and the cost of existing journal subscriptions are increasing at rates beyond the inflation rate.
Take a look at the following articles for more information about scholarly journal pricing:
- The economics of scholarly journal publishing (Bergstrom & Bergstrom)
- Economic analysis of scientific research publishing (Wellcome Trust)
- The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) also has a webpage devoted to journal pricing.
The Library supports open access initiatives at Brock. Open access is a new model of scholarly publishing in which material is available online free of charge. The existence of alternative models of scholarly publishing may start to put pressure on commercial publishers to change and reduce costs and may reduce the problem of libraries having to purchase the results of the research produced at their institution.
Due to this reduced buying power, the Library’s collection strategy has to be very focused. The library will review all collecting practices. This will mean:
- Avoiding duplication in content.
- Reviewing serials, monographs and databases for overlapping and redundant content
- Reducing the number of subscriptions and standing orders that no longer support the university’s research, teaching and curriculum
- Transitioning from print to online serial subscriptions when available and cost effective
- Relying more on ILL and document delivery
This FAQ is based on a document drafted by UBC Libraries.