STEM and HSS journal cuts in Irish University Libraries

Universities are research and teaching institutions, and at the core of research lies the ability of the researcher to discover what is and what is not known about an area. This in effect involves as comprehensive review of the literature as possible and if the library holdings of journals are not as complete as possible then research will be misdirected or delayed. If a library has not got a journal then one faces either paying for it oneself (usually of the order of $30-50 per journal article) or scrounging it from a colleague in more favoured institution.
Irish university libraries have, as I have noted, been hollowed out by staff cuts. We can now show the further hollowing out. Peter Mathews via a PQ sourced these data and we should be grateful to Peter for his ongoing interest in the education issues. First, we can see the relative spend on STEM and HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) on journals. For the most part these journals were sourced on a national consortium basis under the rubric of IRel. Spending, since 2006 has increased 11% on STEM journals while it has fallen 3% on HSS; the ratio of spending on STEM versus HSS journals (2007-12) has bobbled around but on average stands at close to 2:1. Some of this spend is outside the control of IReL as it is a price taker but the relative spend is still extraordinary. Bear in mind: the greater proportion of graduates hired are from HSS disciplines, and while the present thrust is to STEM the value of the (A)HSS sector cannot and is not underplayed. It would be nice if the government and HEA were to honour the fine words of the 2010 report on the value of that sector

As resources have fallen so to have journals have been withdrawn. They number over 400, and what is astounding is that all these journals lie in the STEM (Science, technology engineering and mathematics) domain, the very domain that we are told will be the foundation of the Smart Economy. The data show the journals, the year cancelled, and some notes. The notes should be read as follows ; 7 – was available in the 7 universities ; 7 RCSI – was available in the RCSI and the 7 universities ; 7 Irel DCU NUIM – was available in the 7 universities and is now being subscribed by a mini-consortium of DCU and NUIM

Some issues emerge from this data.
First, it is almost certain that a mini-consortium of two midsized universities will not get as avourable terms as a national consortium.
Second, what on earth went wrong in negotiations in Taylor and Francis?
Third, while some readers may look at any individual journal and say “sure what use is that” , the simple answer is that unless one is a researcher in that domain you cant say. As I noted a comprehensive literature study requires comprehensive library resources. There is no point in spending time and money studying an area that is already done to death AND which you did not know about as the journals were not available. As an editor of a journal it is disheartening to desk reject papers which assert primacy or novelty when one knows that this is an illusion caused by poor or inadequate literature searching.

here is the list in Excel format….i would appreciate comments  from STEM researchers and librarians in particular.

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 09.32.17


2 thoughts on “STEM and HSS journal cuts in Irish University Libraries

  1. machholz

    Reblogged this on Machholz's Blog and commented:
    Education is a fundamental right and I personally am an advocate of lifelong education .All available recourses must be made available to safeguard our educational institutions .Our Universities are just as vital to our economy as a corrupt free financial system!

  2. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » STEM and HSS journal cuts in Irish University Libraries

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