Earlier this year, the Dal Libraries engaged faculty, instructors, and students in a consultation about journal subscriptions. Now, we’re reviewing and evaluating the data gathered from those consultations.
Your input allowed us to assemble a preliminary priority list of journal titles. Small teams of librarians and subject specialists are now refining the list by closely examining multiple factors:
Community recommendations: Which journals have Dalhousie faculty, students and staff identified as important to their research, teaching, and learning?
Usage: How often was the journal used over the course of five years? There are disciplinary differences in the way journal literature is used so we compare like journals — medical journals are compared to other medical journals while humanities journals are compared to other humanities journals.
Citations: How often do Dalhousie researchers cite a journal? Here too we are comparing each journal’s citation rates to other journals in comparable groups.
Duplication: Are we purchasing access to journal content twice? Back issues of many journals are available in several of the aggregator databases we subscribe to, such as EbscoHost and ProQuest. Generally, only the most recent content is unavailable through these databases.
Need for currency: Do we need access to the most recent content? We can identify the publication dates of articles downloaded by our users, and often, the most recent content is not what’s being used. In many cases, the aggregator databases we subscribe to provide our users with the content they need without subscribing to the journal package.
Document Delivery costs: If we decide not to retain a journal and we don’t have access to it through another database, can we provide the content by Document Delivery? We have a fast, reliable Document Delivery service that can provide access to most of the journal literature we need. The cost of providing access through Document Delivery for low-use journals can be less expensive than a subscription, if requestors are willing to wait for two days or less (on average) for delivery.
Balancing these factors is a painstaking process. As we continue to work through these details, we are monitoring the work of national consortia as they negotiate alternatives to the big deals.
When we have finalized the priority list, we will make it available to the Dalhousie community. If we decide to cancel subscriptions this year or in the future, we will monitor Document Delivery requests to identify any journals that may need to be reconsidered.
If there is a title missing from the priority list that you feel strongly about, please email Library.Collections@dal.ca. We can provide additional information about the decision-making process.
Thank you for participating in this consultation process. The data gathered through the Dal Libraries’ journal assessment database has been and will continue to be a crucial factor in the decision-making process.