DePaul University Libraries > About > Policies > Collection Development > Subscription Cancellations

Subscription Cancellations

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​Publishers have continued to raise prices for journals, databases and other e-resources at unsustainable rates for many years. In order to efficiently manage its budget and support growth areas, the Library must identify a significant number of subscription resources for cancellation. This review has become a consistent requirement among all academic libraries. Subject librarians use specific criteria and usage data to make these determinations. Our frequently asked questions are addressed below.

If you have further questions, please contact one of the Library’s subject specialists, or the Collections Development Department at kscheuri@depaul.edu​.


Publishers of scholarly journals and databases levy annual price increases of 4% to 15% while our budget for these materials remains unchanged. In order to balance our budget, the Library must identify a significant number of subscription resources for cancellation. This review has become a consistent requirement among all academic libraries as publishers' continue to raise their prices at unsustainable rates.

The Library collects and analyzes robust data about usage, pricing and cost per use of our serials subscriptions. Subject librarians used this data and other information to make decisions about possible cancellations. In addition to these data, subject specialists also evaluate each journal based on other criteria, including its relative importance to an academic discipline, whether its content is available from another source such as one of the Libraries’ research databases, and if the Library can obtain the title through interlibrary loan.

Most print subscriptions are based on a calendar year period that straddles our fiscal year. Database renewal dates occur at various times during the year.

We have a robust interlibrary loan program through which faculty and students can gain access to materials beyond our collections. This can mitigate some of the effects of journal cancellations. Learn more about interlibrary loan and other resources for accessing content beyond DePaul.

Typically, after cancelling a current journal subscription the Library will maintain electronic access to previous years if the right to do so was part of the subscription license. Otherwise, we will no longer have access to the archive.

Commitments such as we have had with Elsevier, Wiley, SAGE and Springer are known as "Big Deals" and they have driven much of DePaul’s and the academic library community's purchasing decisions for over two decades.

Big Deals describe multiyear contracts in which a library purchases access to all or nearly all of a publisher's journals at a price based on the library's current subscription costs, and agrees to annual price increases fixed at the outset of the contract.

At the time they were developed, Big Deals were useful to libraries, allowing them to offer more content for a set cost, as opposed to a more limited content offering and no control over annual cost increases.

DePaul provides access to numerous full-text databases such as Academic Search Complete and Business Source Complete. Such databases offer access to the full-text of many diverse journals, magazines and newspapers.

It should be noted that, in some cases, these full-text databases are not an exact substitute for a full subscription to a journal. Coverage may not include every article, letter to the editor, or book review and it may exclude illustrations, charts, maps, and other graphics. Additionally, many of the journals included in these types of databases have embargo periods. This means that the publisher of an embargoed title does not allow the database to release the full-text content for a predetermined length of time (typically 6, 12, or 18 months). After the embargo period is over, the full-text will become available as it does for earlier issues of a journal.

Yes, funds allocated for book purchases have also been reduced in order to meet budget reduction goals. Some high cost/low use databases are also not being renewed.

Library collections are only one of our costs. The Library has already made significant cuts in other areas. We have lost personnel positions, postponed or canceled facilities renovations, and reduced other costs as much as possible. The best library collection is of little value without expert personnel to acquire, describe, maintain, and make accessible our collections. These services require a highly trained professional staff as well as the technology and facilities necessary to offer our services.

We understand how central the library collection is to teaching and learning at the University. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the need for cancellations.

  • Support efforts by professional associations and other groups to identify sustainable and affordable ways to distribute scholarly information.
  • Consider a publisher’s pricing model and copyright policy before either submitting for publication or agreeing to serve on an editorial board.
  • Be sure to read a publisher’s copyright release before you sign it; you may find that you cannot offer online or print access to your own articles without prior permission. Most publishers will allow you to place a pre-published article in your institutional repository—DePaul’s is Via Sapientiae—discoverable by researchers via search engines like Google Scholar.

For more information about the serials review please contact one of the Libraries’ subject specialists, or the Collection Development Department at kscheuri@depaul.edu

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