Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Reports on workshops & briefing sessions

This year there were an amazing 30 workshops and briefing sessions to choose from. Afterwards, leaders of briefing sessions were asked to sum up the salient points, and workshop leaders to report back on their session. In case you missed these at Warwick – or need a bit-sized refresher – the editors of Serials bring you the first two of these reports.


Next year’s model?: online journal business models on trial
Briefing session by Paul Harwood and Albert Prior of Content Complete Ltd

Albert Prior and Paul Harwood described progress to date on trialling two journal business models with a small number of partner publishers and UK Higher Education Institutions.

The background to the trials can be traced to the prevalence of the ‘big deal’ in the agreements that have been reached within NESLi2, the UK’s national journal licensing initiative for the Higher Education Community. The JISC’s Journals Working Group, which oversees NESLi2, was interested to explore whether there were alternative models that might provide advantages over the big deal which, although popular, did place increasingly onerous restrictions on institutions.

A report into alternative business models was commissioned and undertaken by the consultancy, Rightscom. Along with the report, which was published in April 2005, a number of business models were presented. The Journals Working Group identified two which they felt merited further exploration and invited Content Complete, the JISC’s negotiation agent for NESLi2, to organize a number of trials. The two models put forward were ‘core plus peripheral’ and ‘pay-per-view converting to subscription’.

Finding publishers and libraries prepared to participate in a trial was not easy as both parties were already stretched with the pressures of day-to-day work and participation in various other initiatives. However, five publishers and ten libraries were eventually identified, with each publisher working with two libraries. The trials will run throughout 2006.

It quickly became apparent that true pay-per-view using credit cards would not be possible and the models were modified to operate on the basis of downloads. It was also clear that the trials would have to take place ‘behind the scenes’ as the respective parties had already concluded their renewals and payments for 2006.

The kick-off meetings with the parties focused on establishing the cost per download, how to eliminate free content from the counting (OA, back-files), possible discounts for PDF and HTML downloads, how COUNTER interprets matters, and how to ensure that downloads from gateway services, etc. were properly captured.

Subsequent meetings have focused on what data is to be captured and reported, analysis of the first sets of usage statistics and preliminary discussions about the financial and budgetary implications of working with models where there is a degree of uncertainty regarding actual expenditure.

Content Complete will be providing an interim report to the JISC in the summer with the full report likely to be completed early in 2007.

Personal digital assistants for health
Briefing session by Sarah Sutton, Clinical Librarian, University of Leicester

Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are pocket-sized computers. When first introduced, they had very limited memory so could only perform basic diary and address book functions. Now they can fulfil many of the roles of the traditional desk top PC and the most current models are even able to access the web and connect with digital projectors to show presentations.

The University of Leicester has been taking part in a joint project with University Hospitals Leicester on the use of PDAs in the clinical setting since 2002. These PDAs, in addition to the diary and address book functions, also have electronic books available to assist doctors and nurses on their ward rounds. The ‘bundle’ of books trialled at Leicester is marketed as ‘Dr Companion’ and includes the British National Formulary (BNF), the Oxford Handbooks of Clinical Medicine, General Practice and Clinical Specialities. The Oxford Medical Dictionary, summaries of the current Cochrane Systematic Reviews and NICE guidance, Clinical Evidence and much more. This resource is like a small medical library on a computer the size of a big mobile phone.

PDAs are also able to access electronic journals via a selection of routes. There is a PDA version of Adobe Acrobat so articles can be downloaded from the web and saved from a desktop PC to a PDA. If the PDA links wirelessly to the Internet, then articles can be viewed directly from the PDA. There are alerting services that send tables of contents, abstracts and full text to your PDA each time a new edition of a journal appears – HighWire provides an excellent example of this service. If you want most of the facilities of your desktop PC without the hassle of carrying around a laptop, a PDA is a handy addition to your pocket or handbag.

Keep a lookout for more reports over the coming weeks …

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