This document is intended to give a high level view of the processes related to the ‘renewal’ of subscriptions in UK HE institutions with a view to informing requirements for KB+. It is a work in process and not a definitive view of the project.


“Renewal” has at least two meanings in the context of subscriptions. It can refer to an agreement or notification relating to the continuing provision of a resource – “we’ve renewed that title/resource”. However, in this document it is used more broadly to describe a process or set of processes that an institution undergoes in an attempt to to establish a future profile of journal access for the institution, fulfilling institutional requirements and working within institutional constraints – “we are doing our renewals”

“Renewal” in this sense can be seen as a restructuring of the institutions resource portfolio (via @brinxmat)

Core titles

Some agreements with publishers carry with them the concept of ‘core’ (or ‘subscribed’) titles. Core titles can have a variety of properties. Within a single agreement zero or more of these properties may apply to core titles within that agreement.

  • Core titles may be used to calculate how much the institution pays to a vendor
  • Core titles may have restrictions on whether they can be ‘cancelled’ (applies where the cost of the package is calculated based on the core titles)
  • Core titles may carry special Post-cancellation access rights

Some agreements allow institutions to change which titles are regarded as ‘core’, usually concurrent with a ‘renewal’ (this process is sometimes referred to as ‘substitution’).

The ‘core’ nature of title does not usually depend on it being part of any specific package, but on a title/provider/subscriber combination. However, even this combination is not quite necessary for the ‘core’ quality to be retained. Especially where a title transfers between publishers it is possible for the ‘core’ quality to continue even thought the title may now be accessed via a different package/content provider/subscription/licence etc.

It is also the case that the institution can have access to the same title via some other route (for example as part of a backfile or aggregation) but in this case the instance of the title is not regarded as having the ‘core’ quality.

Over time it is possible for a title to be ‘core’, to cease being ‘core’ and to start being ‘core’ again. While unusual, there is nothing to stop this happening multiple times. It is important to know when a title was core, as this informs post-cancellation access rights.

Within an agreement with a provider it is possible that some ‘core’ titles can be print, print+electronic and electronic only. Moving between these can affect the amount paid for the overall package. This means it is possible to have a title only taken in print that is nevertheless counted as a ‘core’ title within the terms of what is otherwise a package made up wholly of electronic resources.

Process of Renewal

The renewal process may start long before any decisions are enacted. Typically any decisions eventually agreed will come into force on a specific date (usually, but not exclusively 1st January).

The process itself can be seen as comprised of roughly four parts:

A highlevel view of stages of the renewal process

A highlevel view of stages of the renewal process

There is some degree of simplification here. The “Collect” and “Correct” processes may be seen as substantially the same. The “Commit” phase may not really mean the end of any changes – there is no sense in which the portfolio is ever static, as change can happen at any point.

However, there is a cyclical nature to this process and the “Commit” stage reflects a point after which the institution would not generally expect to make major changes to the portfolio.

Aims of Renewal

Although local requirements can change leading to cancellations/new subscriptions, outside these agreed changes generally the aim will be to achieve a total portfolio of titles that is the same as the current portfolio. This means that when packages change, or titles move publishers, or other changes in the offerings occur, the important question is ‘what are my options for keeping access to my current titles’.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s