Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter


FALL 2005

eJournal Package Review

Science Direct LogoThe Library is currently engaged in a review of our largest electronic journal package, ScienceDirect. Belying its name, the package contains journals in a wide range of disciplines, and many academic departments have been contacted to rank the importance of individual titles to their research and teaching. Last spring we initiated a project to reduce the duplication of print and electronic resources, and ScienceDirect was one of the packages reviewed. As a result of that process, the decision was made to go e-only for several hundred journals. Now we are focused on the content and usage of the package rather than on the format. Faculty input is critical to the success of this project, which will have long-term impact on the management of the library materials budget.


Known in the library field as the “Big Deal”, ScienceDirect is an Elsevier e-journal platform which is available through library consortia. A number of research library consortia are currently subscribing to the “Big Deal,” but there have been defections in recent years by several major research libraries. The package offers more favorable terms than an individual library subscription by limiting price increases over the life of the package and providing an option to purchase online access to all of the Elsevier e-journals subscribed to by consortia members. Packages are available for one, three, or five year commitments. The advantages of the multi-year packages are many, but they come at a steep price: loss of control of our own content and budget. Cancellations are prohibited; titles may be “swapped” within the package offerings, as long as the same dollar subscription base is maintained. This effectively means that Elsevier journals cannot be cancelled to free up funds for new non-Elsevier titles. Multi-year deals are the best value if access to the full suite of ScienceDirect titles is crucial. The one year option has much less favorable terms (higher content fees and price caps) than the multi-year options and, as a result, is more costly to support access to the identical content. The benefit of a one year option is the potential for flexibility, not being locked in for three or five years.


Boston College has participated in ScienceDirect via the Boston Library Consortium for six years by signing up twice for three year deals. The contract is currently up for renewal for the 2006-2008 subscription years. Costs for Science Direct are significant, one sixth of the total library materials budget. Is it worth it? Your feedback on the title lists prepared by your subject specialists is the first step in an evaluation process which will include additional faculty participation. For more information on this important review please access ScienceDirect Review on the Libraries’ Research Collections page. Also feel free to contact me < > directly with any comments.


Christine ConroyChristine Conroy
Associate University Librarian

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