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Re: query about the Big Deal

Excuse me, but may we not here be -- largely unwittingly, but
also probably a bit naively -- getting into rather hazardous
waters with this sort of reasoning (or, rather,

Ken Masters has already dealt with the matter of how "'support'
is frequently exercised". I would second him on that appropriate

What I'm talking about now is the notions you advance of
"get[ting] feedback on what constitutes the core titles for each
subject" and "The strategy of title-by-title selection for core
journals supplemented by ILL for rarely used material ... [being]
exactly the strategy that UK members of RLUK will adopt ...".

If there's anything that's becoming clear on the research
landscape these days, isn't it that in various areas the very
concept of "core journals" has *in practice* lost a lot of its
validity? And we're talking here not only about the numerous
newer interdisciplinary research fields -- but also about
long-established fields whose scholars are deriving inspiration,
theoretical orientations, hypotheses, ideas, evidence, research
results, data, references etc. from the literature of diverse
disciplines to which they had traditionally devoted relatively
little, if any, attention.

The research landscape is much less one of separate intellectual
silos than was the case even when many of us were students. (At
least that's certainly very true in my case.) Looking at your
post just now, I thought back for example to an article I
happened to read last year in which the author plainly stated
that: "there is no "core" collection of journals for history" [he
was dealing largely with American history], and even that, in
history: "a minority of cited articles belong to history-focused
journals" [!] (Sherriff, in _Portal: libraries and the academy_,
vol.10 no.2, April 2010, p.178, p.181).

That was one (to him apparently somewhat surprising) conclusion
from his own local citation analysis, but I should emphasize that
research results achieved by others regarding the field of
history have pointed in the same direction (e.g. Delgadillo &
Lynch in _College & research libraries_ 60.3 (1999), p.245-259;
Dalton & Charnigo in _College & research libraries_, 65.5 (2004),
p.400-425; Hellqvist in _Journal of the American Society for
Information Science and Technology_ 61.2 (2010), p.310-318;
Buchanan & Harubel in _Journal of scholarly publishing_ 42.2
(Jan. 2011), p.160-181). History is clearly one example of this
phenomenon, but hardly the only one.

To depend, therefore, even partly, on so-called "core titles"
selections for supporting decisions in connection with big deals
and journal cancellations, may not necessarily be such a good
idea (not to mention "strategy") for anyone wishing to provide
the best possible support to a given academic community. And, as
I above suggested, even less of a good idea tomorrow than it
already was today.

It has also been shown, I believe, that even within the same
field and at the same institution, different scholars/scientists
will often come up with widely varying accounts of which journals
are the core journals -- and that these accounts furthermore
don't necessarily correlate strongly with what various metrics
indicate about actual journal usage at that institution.

In some areas indeed, the notion of "core titles" was -- as far
as I'm concerned -- always a questionable one, and it is now more
questionable than ever before -- and questionable, furthermore,
in more areas.

- Laval Hunsucker
Antwerpen, Belgium

----- Original Message -----
> From: David Prosser <david.prosser@rluk.ac.uk>
> To: "liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu" <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
> Cc:
> Sent: Friday, July 1, 2011 3:09 AM
> Subject: Re: query about the Big Deal
> Hi Claudia
> I think you make a good point about faculty involvement. Some
> institutions have gone for cancellation by stealth, but others
> have consulted widely on their campuses and worked with the
> faculty to both a) explain the problem and b) get feedback on
> what constitutes the core titles for each subject. However, few
> libraries have issued press release trumpeting reduced access -
> which was my point on under-reporting.
> I must say that I was very encouraged by Scott's narrative of
> how a well-managed retreat from the big deal can be a positive
> event on campus. I have also just seen a fascinating
> presentation from Jonathan Nabe at Southern Illinois University
> Carbondale on their withdrawal from the big deal:
> http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/morris_confs/14/
> Two things struck me as particularly interesting. Firstly, the
> deafening silence from faculty as access to little-used content
> was withdrawn. Secondly, the low conversation rate from
> downloads to ILL requests. It looks as if there is a lot of
> 'casual' reading of content.
> The strategy of title-by-title selection for core journals
> supplemented by ILL for rarely used material is exactly the
> strategy that UK members of RLUK will adopt if we are unable to
> reach satisfactory conclusions in our current negotiations with
> the largest publishers. It is reassuring to see examples where
> a retreat from the big deal has been achieved with both
> financial savings and low user disquiet.
> David