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Calculating Scholarly Journal Value

CDL’s Collection Development and Management Licensed Resources program developed a value-based strategy which is now used as a major part of the University of California’s journal collection planning process. The strategy involves using objective metrics to calculate the value of scholarly journals and identify titles and publishers that make a greater or lesser contribution to the University’s mission of teaching, research, and public service. The value-based process is objective and quantifiable and is based on measures of utility, quality, and cost effectiveness, with a goal of alignment to UC’s user communities and programmatic needs.

A key aspect of this strategy is the use of a Weighted Value Algorithm by Subject Category to assess multiple vectors of value for each journal title under review. This methodology compares each UC e-journal title licensed for systemwide use at the University of California against other UC-licensed titles within the same subject category according to a variety of objective value indicators, in order to arrive at a comparative value for each journal within the UC shared licensing portfolio. The analysis covers over 8,600 journals in 36 UC licensed e-journal packages.

Since 2012, the California Digital Library (CDL) has been researching ways to provide improved benchmarks for UC’s journal and publisher package evaluations by modifying the CDL Journal Weighted Value Algorithm. Staff interviewed a variety of academic experts in the fields of statistics, economics, and library and information science and conducted a written survey of librarians from the U.S. and Canada known for their expertise and experience with journal value assessment. Advice was also collected from UC librarians across a variety of subject specialties. As a result of our review some changes to the Algorithm were implemented in 2015 which the research showed would improve the accuracy and reliability of our value rankings.