RLUK Wants Serials Price Reductions to Avoid Cuts That Would "Fatally Compromise" Research

Research Libraries UK has issued a press release about needed serials price reductions.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

At its recent conference, RLUK announced it would not support future journal big deals unless they showed real price reductions. With a cut to the teaching grant and research budgets flat at best, RLUK members believe that unless this happens they will be forced to cancel significant numbers of subscriptions which will fatally compromise the UK's capacity for research.

For the past several years JISC Collections have negotiated with the publishers on behalf of UKHE. RLUK is so worried about the current situation that it has instructed JISC Collections to secure contracts which will not only rescind the unreasonable price rises of the last three years, but also offer affordable deals for the future. If reasonable deals cannot be struck RLUK libraries will be forced to provide information resources to their researchers and students in other ways.

"The capacity of UK universities to continue to pay such large year-on-year increases for access to scholarly journals is not infinite," said Professor Michael Arthur, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds and Chair of the Russell Group of Universities. "To ensure the continued vitality of the UK's world-beating research base we need to reassess the costs of electronic access and find a new balance between the value added by publishers and the charges they make. We realise that finding such a balance may not be easy, but if we fail to address the problem now there will be serious long-term consequences for research and teaching in the UK."

"The UK Higher Education sector now spends almost £200m per year on access to journals and databases," explained David Prosser, RLUK's Executive Director. "This is 10% of the total QR funding the sector receives and increases above inflation each year. We understand the value publishers add to the publication process, but publishers must also understand that they cannot continue to increase prices at a time when budgets are so tight. We do not wish to cancel big deals, but we shall have no alternative unless the largest publishers substantially reduce their prices."

"Some RLUK members now pay over £1m a year to access journals from the largest publisher," said Phil Sykes, Chair of RLUK and Librarian at Liverpool University. "With annual journal price inflation running at double the rate of RPI since 2000, it has distorted the acquisition policies of libraries, with an ever-increasing proportion of budgets being spent on electronic big deals. This leads to diminishing funds for monographs, textbooks, and journals from smaller publishers, which cannot but damage scholarship and teaching in UKHE."

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