Information Today
Volume 19, Issue 7 July/August 2002
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Ingenta Institute Launches International Site Licensing and Consortia Study

The Ingenta Institute, an independent research organization of the scholarly communications industry, has announced the commencement of a comprehensive international study into the impact of site licensing and consortia developments on the scholarly communication process. "To date, no significant research has been undertaken to assess the advantages, disadvantages, and implications of the consortium site license concept on an international scale," said David Brown, coordinator of the Ingenta Institute.

Over the past few years, the consortia site licensing debate has rushed to the forefront because of the increasing popularity of consortia site negotiation between publishers and library groupings or library consortia, according to the announcement. However, little has been done to investigate the impact of these dealings comprehensively (i.e., the international reach of these deals and the complexities of meeting all partners' needs). For example, the publishers desire maximum profitability, while libraries seek the most relevant collection at the most efficient cost.

"Despite these seemingly disparate requirements, the growing number of consortia sites begs the question: Are all parties achieving their financial goals as well as providing access to end-users? The Ingenta Institute's multilayered, three-stage research project will help to identify the major issues to be addressed in order to achieve improved access, delivery, and pricing models for publishers, libraries, and intermediaries," said Brown.

Consisting of three separate studies, the research program "The Impact of Site Licensing and Consortia Developments" will run over a period of 2 years and be coordinated by the Ingenta Institute. Detailed findings from the first phases of the separate U.K. and U.S. studies will be announced and published this year at the Royal Society in London on September 24 and at the Charleston Advisor pre-conference in Charleston, South Carolina, on October 30. For more information, e-mail

Conducting the first study is Donald W. King, a professor at Pittsburgh University's School of Information Sciences, who is compiling a comprehensive review of consortium licensing in the U.S. In recent years, library consortia have added electronic journals to their menu of services, but little is known about the impact that these developments are having on the rest of the journal publishing system. King is examining in detail the system channel involving consortia e-journal services; the trends in these consortia considerations; how consortia can best be served and contribute to other system participants; and how publishers, consortia, and libraries can improve their decision making and optimize the consortia system channel.

The second study has been awarded to U.K.-based research consultancy Key Perspectives, Ltd., which has been retained to undertake pilot studies on the impact of consortium site licenses on scholarly journal publishers and academic libraries. Personal interviews with senior publishers and librarians are planned in the U.S., U.K., and continental Europe.

The final study, contracted to City University, will analyze site licensing and consortia developments from the user's perspective. Taking usage data from those international publishers that offer consortia site licenses and agree to participate in the study, City University will analyze these statistics to determine whether the consortia deal (sometimes referred to as the "Big Deal" by industry insiders) delivers advantages to the user and, on a broader scale, to identify significant changes in the scholarly information environment.

Source: Ingenta Institute, Cambridge, MA, 617/395-4000;

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