Happy Weekend, everybody! As you may have noticed, I’ve been leaving the words “big deal” out of the title of these posts for a while, now. I decided to do that out of recognition that, in some sense, we’ve already won that conversation. Everybody seems to understand that big subscription bundles of academic journals are overpriced and overstuffed, and many of us have broken them up with no appreciable harm to our research communities. Life is good!
But not so fast. There’s a new big deal in town, and it’s worse than the old one, by a long shot. So-called “transformative agreements” swap out the cable bundle model (a few things you need plus a bunch of garbage you don’t) for something more like Disney+ (at least for those of us with Marvel-fan kids)—a service faculty increasingly can’t live without: the ability to publish open access in leading journals in their fields.
To get your head around why this is dangerous, I’ve gathered here a series of blog posts by Roger Schonfeld, an analyst of the academic publishing marketplace, as well as a recent article by a UK librarian explaining how he and his colleagues feel hamstrung to take these deals. It’s a cautionary tale, possibly coming soon to a library near you.