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Positioning Your Journals for Success in a Challenging Library Market

September 1, 2020

University libraries face numerous challenges due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Shifting library needs will reverberate throughout the scholarly publishing ecosystem, and many publishers are rightly concerned about the potential impact on their journals.

On August 5, 2020, BioOne hosted a publisher forum on what changing library subscription markets mean for journals, in particular the more specialized society titles that comprise the BioOne Complete collection. We were pleased to hear Mira Waller, BioOne Board Member and Associate University Librarian for Research and Learning Services at the University of Virginia, share her experience and knowledge of the library market.

In this sustained economic downturn, universities are facing unprecedented impacts, which is resulting in cuts to library budgets and decreased buying power. How are libraries deciding what journals they will keep or cancel? Data. Libraries consider several data points when faced with cancellations: usage or download statistics, impact factor, availability of content in multiple aggregations, and the budgetary implications of breaking up big deals and packages from larger publishers.

BioOne is well-positioned to meet these changing times. In 1999, BioOne was founded by both libraries and publishers with the goal of a sustainable publishing ecosystem, and this core value is guiding our policies and activities this year. Today, we continue working to maintain a strong global renewal rate to ensure a healthy return to our publishers, and to keep prices as affordable as possible for our library community. BioOne is listening to our subscriber community as we make sustainable pricing decisions for the upcoming year and are continuing to expand the reach of our collection, and are engaging with non-subscribing institutions who may benefit from the content on our platform. In fact, we recently partnered with new global sales representatives who are helping us to reach new institutions who might benefit from BioOne’s affordable high-quality content.

Despite the difficulties that COVID-19 has presented in the academic and research sphere, there are opportunities for publishers in this current landscape. In order to ensure the health and success of their journals, BioOne’s nonprofit and small publishing partners can

  • Publish issues on time and deliver digital content as promised. Libraries take note if a journal is not delivering the content that is expected during a given subscription term.
    • Consider conducting an audit of your publishing schedule—what can be done to best ensure that each issue publishes on time?
  • Make sure to mention that your journal is part of the BioOne Complete on your website—we have language you can use. This helps libraries identify where to subscribe to find your content.
  • Continue to raise the impact factor of your journal (ethically!). While imperfect, the impact factor remains a generally accepted measure of a journal’s quality, and figures strongly in librarian collection decisions.
    • Focus on growing the strength of your submissions pipeline; you might consider inviting contributed articles from leaders in your field, or including publishing strong papers which have the potential to become references in your discipline.
  • Read and request papers via your institution’s official channels: the library search engine. Can’t find it there? Ask your librarian to get it for you via Interlibrary Loan. Encourage your  colleagues and students to do the same.
    • Searching and requesting this way ensures that librarians have the data to support subscribing to your journal, and to other content you need most.

Active BioOne publishers who were unable to attend are invited to contact us for a link to a recording of the full session.

In alignment with our mission to meet library, publisher, and researcher needs, BioOne provides active BioOne Complete publishers with a variety of benefits and tools to enhance their publication's visibility and serve their organization. These benefits and tools include discounts on language editing and translation services, unlimited and free job postings on the BioOne Career Center, and more. Discover more resources for BioOne publishers.