January 20, 2021

University of Montréal Cuts Bundle of About 2,100 Springer Journals

From the University of Montréal

After negotiating with Springer, Université de Montréal (UdeM) Libraries is forced to cut back on this large bundle of journals. Available budget only allows UdeM to keep 150 of the collection’s 2,266 journals, or 6.6% of the titles. These 150 titles cover 42% of UdeM’s downloads from Springer in 2015.

As a result of this cutback, articles published since January 1, 2016 in the 2,116 cancelled journals will no longer be directly accessible at UdeM. They can however be obtained through interlibrary loan (ILL) at no cost for users. Access to back issues of cancelled titles will still be provided in whole.

“We are trying to best meet the needs of our community despite budget cuts in the last few years, the greediness of commercial publishers, and the weak Canadian dollar,” said Stéphanie Gagnon, Collections Director.

Springer believes that its collection provides an excellent price-quality ratio for UdeM based on the 2,266 journals available in their bundle. UdeM Libraries sees things differently because it only considers, in its assessment, titles that meet the needs of its community. A survey conducted recently with the university community established that only 256 titles (or 11.6%) within the Springer collection are needed for research and teaching at UdeM. Part of the strategy of commercial publishers is to increase the number of journals in their bundle to justify their exorbitant rates.

Average cost for viewing or printing articles at UdeM also confirms the unjustified pricing: Springer’s articles end up being 225% more expensive at UdeM compared to Elsevier’s. Université de Sherbrooke and UQAM libraries have cancelled their subscriptions to Springer’s collection.

UdeM Libraries uses the same approach with all publishers when determining the amount it is ready to pay for large periodical collections. It takes into account both the publishers’ pricing and the real needs of the community. Instead of accepting the publishers’ asking price, UdeM Libraries is proposing to pay what it considers a fair price. This approach seems reasonable since three major publishers have accepted UdeM Libraries offers this year (Cambridge University PressJohn Wiley & Sons, and SAGE Publications Inc.).

On their own, Libraries are absolutely no match for these multinational publishers. However, UdeM professors and researchers that are concerned about these changes are well positioned to make a difference. They can, for instance, express their disapproval (see Springer contacts for UdeM below), refuse to review articles, or support open access publishing. The greatest risk for publishers is that people start questioning their access to this free research output and volunteer workforce as well as their business model.

UdeM Libraries administration is fully aware of the impact of these cancellations on teaching and research, but there was no alternative.

Read the Complete Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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