Analysis of the Journals workflow

Analysis of the Journals workflow

Having analysed the workflows of the main processes of the Acquisitions team we felt it would be beneficial to carry out the same exercise for the E-Resources and Journals team. We decided to look at the workflow of the main processes in lifecycle of a journal – the selection of a new e-journal and the renewal of an e-journal. It is possible to identify a number of issues within these processes where efficiencies could be made and as such need to be considered by the developers of KB+ and a next generation library and web-scale management system.

MyReading software

As demonstrated in the workflow above, at the moment, the initial identification of a new journal title to be taken is by the Librarian requesting a new journal title to be ordered. However, with the development and implementation of MyReading project it is important that we consider how we will identify journal titles which academics have indicated contain relevant material for the students, which we currently do not subscribe to. At the moment, during the first year of the implementation of MyReading colleagues are going through the lists and checking them against our holdings manually. Not only is this time consuming but it also has a high risk of error. It was suggested that it may be possible to create an automated alert so that when a journal appears on a reading list, which we do not have access to, the team are alerted to look in to purchasing access.


Before subscribing to a journal, the team carry out an evaluation process on the proposed title. This data is then passed back to the Librarian and allows them to make an informed decision. The information that is collected by the team is outlined in the workflow above and includes the fourteen deal breakers outlined and recommended by the TERMS project as elements of the journal to be considered in best practice for the selection of e-resources (please see the TERMS wiki for more information[1]

It is very time consuming collecting all this information from different places and it was suggested that the reporting feature on KB+ could be developed further to include more of the information that is used to evaluate the resource. Although the reporting feature currently looks at some of this information, such as licence criteria, it was wondered if this could be enlarged to include the criteria recommended as best practice by TERMS.

However, although these points are important for the institution to consider before entering into an agreement they are less of a concern if the resource has appeared on a reading list or the request is a result of specific research funding. In these case the new journal title request would by-passes much of the evaluation stage, although given the current monetary constraints on the journal budget it may mean that the ordering of a new title requires the cancellation of another – and for this to happen, some evaluation must take place.

Purchasing and Renewal

The team currently complete paper requisition forms which are passed to the Acquisitions Team to raise an order on Agresso. Once this order has been approved the order is placed with the subscription agent/publisher and they are given the purchase order number. Details of the order, such as the order number and price, are also entered onto a spreadsheet. The inputting of the information on paper requisitions, into Agresso and onto a spreadsheet ensures that work is duplicated and heightens the risk of error. Therefore we would ideally like a punch-out system from the Agresso eMarketplace to Swets, JISC Collections and other subscription agents and publishers. This would create efficiencies and reduce the risk of error. Any of the additional information that is recorded on the spreadsheet relating to the journal title could be recorded in the note field of the journal on KB+. This process could also be used to purchase the renewal subscriptions that occur every year.


As laid out in the TERMS project best practice, the renewal process starts with an intelligence gathering stage.[2] Data, such as communications with vendors/publishers, periods of downtime and user feedback should be collected throughout the year and recorded in a consistent manner. KB+ and 360 Resource Manager offer the facility to be able to record this information in a consistent place and manner and it is encouraged that this is utilised. KB+ also offers the additional feature of a community forum which allows the librarians throughout the country to add and discuss issues with vendors, user feedback and downtime with other colleagues.

Other considerations are if the title is on a reading list and if the need for a specific journal title through specific research funding has ceased.

While a section of the renewals process has been greatly helped by the ‘renewals’ feature within KB+, which creates an easy to understand comparison spreadsheet, we feel that some information that is pertinent to the renewals process is missing from the comparison spreadsheet (see our previous blog post). In addition we need information on the % price increase, which won’t be available from KB+. We would like to investigate the possibility of creating these reports on Agresso, however, this would mean radically changing the workflow.

The final step in the renewals process, to check the access at the beginning of the subscription period, is currently done manually and is time intensive and open to error. An automated check of all the links alerting us to any links that are not working or current would be advantageous

Having studied the two main workflows for the E-Resources and Journals team it is clear that they are complex and time-consuming processes that require attention to detail. As such there is only so much automation can do to create efficiencies and therefore it is crucial that KB+ and a new next generation library and web-scale management systems such as Intota consider and develop the areas where efficiencies can be made.



Serials Solutions’ 360 Resource Manager and JISC’s KB+

As part of the HIKE project we have been populating and using both Serial Solutions 360 Resource Manager and KB+, therefore we thought it would be useful to write a comparison between the two systems and evaluate which is the best system to use for our purposes and propose an ideal workflow for using the two systems.

At Huddersfield, we will use the information held in these two systems in different ways. Primarily data from both systems will be used to help the Information Resources team with the management of the electronic resources lifecycle, but it is also used as a reference tool for the Academic Services team to answer any enquiries on access, ILL allowances, etc. In order to evaluate the systems we propose to compare and contrast three different areas of the system before offering an ideal workflow and suggestions of any developments that would need to be considered to facilitate the proposed workflow. The three areas for the initial investigation are

  • the aims and objectives of the two systems
  • the population of the two databases
  • the functionality of the two systems

Aims and Objectives of the systems

The aim of KB+ is to support the management of all electronic resources by holding the pertinent information from the current licences and subscriptions that are maintained by the library, holding historical data about subscriptions and licences, and providing a forum for shared community activity relating to the management of electronic resources. This is all the information that the Information Resources team will need to know when dealing with the lifecycle of the resource and for answering any enquiries relating to access and use.

In contrast the purpose of Resource Manager is to hold all the information about the resources, and be interactive and aid in the management of the resources. By entering all the information about a resource such as fund and payment information, contact details, password and access information, expiry dates and licence details Resource Manager has the potential to play an active part in the selection, acquisition and renewal of electronic resources through integrated alerts, automated reports and the interlinking of resource information. For example, once you have set an expiry date on a subscription you can ask the system to notify you of the impending renewal a month before it is due.

Population of the two databases

KB LicencePopulating the database with information, in both systems, begins with the creation of a new licence. In both it is possible to either create an entry from scratch or to copy an existing template including the restrictions and modify it. For each licence in KB+ there is an information box which holds the name of the licence, the notice period for cancellation, linked subscriptions and the URL of the licence if available.

The location of this important information for identifying the resource is well placed at the top of the page as it immediately and clearly identifies which licence is being dealt with, the subscriptions that are governed by these restrictions and the period of notice that needs to be given if you intend to cancel.KB traffic light table (1)

The key properties of the licence, which were defined  and identified by the KB+ community as the properties which you most frequently need to know are displayed in a traffic light table below. For each property you can select from a drop down menu of yes, no or other and then provide an explanation and more information if required in the column next to it. You can also upload an electronic copy of the licence and any other relevant documents, and there is the facility to add notes to record any information you feel may be beneficial keeping, for example if a lecturer has asked you to subscribe to a specific resource. These notes can also be made public which shares the information with the KB+ community. It is thought that one use of this feature may be to identify access problems and alert others to the problems. 

In Resource Manager there are two sections relating to the licence that need to be filled in. The first is the general information about the licence such as the name, duration of the licence, location of the licence, status and the period of notice of expiration that the library would like.  Similar to KB+ this is located as the first page of licence details RMwhich is useful as it gives the main points of information relating to the licence. There is then another page, for specifying the terms of the licence, which is a mixture of tick boxes, drop-down and free text fields.  We found Resource Manager harder to populate as it required a more in-depth knowledge of the licences and many of the fields required information that is based on North American licence models and are not always relevant in the UK or do not have an equivalent. There were also a number of fields that would be relevant for British HEIs but were missing such as: the ability to use the resource at multi-sites or if overseas students are allowed to use the resource. Like KB+ it offers the ability to link the licence to the resource/resources it governs, but because they are linked to the Serial Solutions Knowledge Base there are a larger number of resources to which licences can be linked. 

There are a number of fields within Resource Manager which we are not using but which we believe will be beneficial for us to populate and use in the future. By recording this information in a clear, concise and systematic way through Resource Manager it will allow us to easily extract the information to understand more about the resource in order to answer enquiries and make informed decisions in the selection, acquisition and renewal of electronic resources. The fields indicated below and information they hold are the additional fields we believe should be populated as they will help HE institutions in the management of their electronic resources.

  • Fair clause – permitted uses of the published material such as ILL
  • Scholarly sharing – non-systematic classroom use e.g. the printing of a section of a journal by a tutor for their class as a one off.
  • Electronic link – VLE or wiki
  • Perpetual access holdings  – indicate the dates of our perpetual access e.g. 1996 – 2000
  • Governing law/copyright/governing jurisdiction = UK/US copyright
  • Execution date – date the licence was signed and agreed
  • There are also a couple of fields relating to the use of published material and repositories which may in the future be useful. Although at the moment very few licences mention repositories and this information is kept separately at SHERPA.

Resource Manager also offers the opportunity to add notes like KB+; however, this information cannot be shared. Additionally users may feel uncomfortable about using commercial software, such as Resource Manager to record information about the parent company, Proquest, although we have been informed that it is possible to hide these notes from the vendor. Another difference between the two systems is that you are unable to upload an electronic copy of the licence in Resource Manager meaning you are still dependent on the paper copy. However, Resource Manager does offer additional features, e.g. recording administrative details such as the dates of acquisition and renewal, the log on details for users and admin users, the contact details of the account manager, and payment details such as invoice details, amount and fund.

The functionality of the systems

We found that the pertinent information of the licence was displayed on KB+ in clean, clear and easy to understand way. The presentation of this information provides a quick and easy reference tool for someone answering an enquiry.  However, if you were using KB+ to answer a query about a resource or journal you would need to know which licence governed your resource or which collection the journal was part of before you could identify and find the correct licence on KB+ to extract the relevant information.

Whereas with Resource Manager you can search the Serial Solutions Knowledge Base at journal level and then follow a series of links which will take you to the licence that governs that journal. Yet the presentation of the information of the correct licence in Resource Manager is not as easy to understand as in KB+, despite holding all the same information and more. Resource Manager has the appearance of a busy screen due to the small font and line spacing of the page which makes it difficult to identify the relevant information at first glance.

KB+ is the easier of the two systems to populate and displays relevant licence information in a clean and simple way making it straightforward to understand. However, a certain amount of knowledge about the resource is required to be able to find the terms of the licence. Conversely Resource Manager is harder to populate as it requires more detailed information and it is harder to find and extract the information, but it is easier to find the relevant licence within the system without any prior knowledge of the resource. Being an interactive aid in the management of electronic resources Resource Manager offers additional features KB+ does not. Therefore although additional time may be spent inputting detailed data, theoretically, in the long run, it will save you time.

In conclusion we recommend that both systems are used but for different purposes:

  • Resource Manager will help the Information Resources team in the management of electronic resources in an active way
  • KB+ will provide an ideal reference tool for answering enquiries relating to the access and use of the resources.

Ideal workflow and use of KB+ and Serial Solution’s Resource Manager

After data inputting, and comparing and contrasting the two systems we propose the ideal workflow to be to input the data into KB+ first before importing it into Resource Manager. KB+ is easier to populate and clearer for the user to understand which field requires which information. Additionally as JISC Collections produce definitive lists of journal titles within the different collections each year it is only necessary to amend the lists to identify the core titles for your institution and check against the previous year’s list for changes of titles within the collections by using the new renewals tool.

For those Serials Solutions customers that decide not to subscribe to KB+, the option would still be available to populate licence information from scratch or by using the templates provided in Resource Manager.

For those who do subscribe to KB+ we recommend that the information about the licences and the changes to identify the core titles and access dates etc. should be enacted in KB+ first and then imported into Resource Manager to save the duplication of work. Unfortunately there are a couple of sections within Resource Manager such as the costing information and administrative details that do not have an equivalent in KB+ and would therefore need to be populated separately.

In an ideal world the definitive lists of journal titles within the collections and their associated licences could then be exported via an API into Resource Manager. The fields not populated by KB+ would ideally be populated by another API to the relevant system or manually. Once fully populated with the information needed, Resource Manager could then help the Information Resources team by playing an active part in the selection, acquisition and renewal of electronic resources through integrated alerts, automated reports and the interlinking of resource information.


In order for this proposed data transfer between the two systems what data needs to be transferred? And how could this be achieved? We recommend that all the data from KB+ would need to be transferred to Resource Manager. However, at the moment the only export of data that is supported by KB+ are CSV files.

Currently it is possible to download the generic subscriptions negotiated by JISC Collections at, it is also possible to export all of the subscriptions taken by your institution, which have been amended to reflect the local holdings as CSV files. Although this export does include the local changes by the institution of the start and end date of the coverage and any embargoes, unfortunately it does not include the identification of the institutions core titles – this information is crucial for the management of electronic journals. If the ideal workflow is to input the data into KB+ and then export it to 360 Resource Manager the exports from KB+ must be able to reflect all the locally made amendments by each institution to the subscriptions.

Although a CSV file export of the License information is not currently available, all JISC collection licences have already been provided to Serial Solutions for inclusion in Resource Manager. However, these licences are the generic ones that do not contain local information – in addition, 360 Resource Manager cannot display the licence terms in the traffic light system available on KB+. Additionally there are a couple of fields within KB+ that contain information relevant to UK HE institutions, such as multiple site access and overseas student’s access, which are missing from Resource Manager.  Both systems need to be able to display the same fields – or at least a set of core fields.

In order for the workflow that we have proposed to utilise both KB+ and Resource Manager to their full potential, a couple of developments would need to be developed by both systems. In addition to the generic exports of journal titles in each collection KB+ would need to develop the ability for institutions to export their subscription details and include all local changes in the export. In turn Serial Solutions would need to consider providing the option of importing data into Resource Manager. Although they currently offer uploading information for their customers, the facility to import your own data would be easier and more useful. Another development that would need to be considered it the method of data transfer. Although it is currently possible through CSV files, such exports require further manipulation of the data into an acceptable format before being uploaded as a CSV file into another system, therefore a more suitable method would be through compatible CSV files. However, the ideal method of transferring data from KB+ to Resource Manager and vice versa would be through an API.

We hope that this sort of functionality will be made available by KB+ as it develops and by Serials Solutions as part of Intota. But why stop at APIs between KB+ and Intota – for example, might it be possible for financial information Agresso and administrative information from our subscription agent to be pulled in via API too.

Journal Subscriptions and renewals

Each year as part of the NESLi2 deals renewal process, we receive a list of our ‘core’ titles from some of the journals publishers – these are the ones that we are not allowed to cancel as part of the licence (see our earlier blog post on core titles).

We then work through the list checking each title they have recorded as a ‘core’ title against our own lists of ‘core’ titles and the information from our subscription agent to identify the discrepancies between them. For the majority of the titles there is agreement between the journals team, the publishers and the subscription agent, however, there are always a small number of titles that we do not agree on – and this happens year after year after year! While some are titles where all parties do not agree as to whether they are core or not, others are trials that will automatically renew if they are not cancelled.

 It is these discrepancies in the lists that cause major headaches for all parties during the renewal process as we have to open negotiations to resolve the differences that arise despite already having agreed a contract. This process can take a long time due to the queries that go back and forth, and the explanations and discussions over the different titles. This process can also, occasionally, impact on the student experience of the library as if the titles have not been agreed, the payments not sorted and the new invoices agreements not signed by each party before January it can result in the loss of access to the materials, which happened last year. Other reasons for having an accurate and up to date understanding of our subscriptions can be found in a blog post about Knowledge Base + at

It is hoped that with the release of KB+ these particular difficulties in the renewals process for the journal teams, publishers and subscription agents may be a thing of the past? With KB+ offering the institutions the facilities to keep an electronic record of their ‘core’ journal titles and to upload electronic documents it is hoped that the management of journal subscriptions will become easier, more efficient  and more accurate hopefully making renewal negotiations to become less problematic. In fact, we hope that having this information stored at KB+ and therefore accessible to JISC Collections at the negotiation stage that in the near future we won’t even have to have the conversation at all!

In the next few weeks, the HIKE project will be working with KB+ to look at how we manage renewals in a multi-year NESLi2 deal and how this impacts on KB+ and ultimately Intota. We will blog the outcomes soon!

Core titles

A discussion about the subscription side of KB+ and the information it maintains and support at the recent Institutional Partners Meeting in October inevitably led to a discussion on core titles. Core titles are at the very heart of understanding many ‘big deal’ journal subscriptions and are crucial when looking at post-cancellation access. However, core titles are very complex issue and vary from institution to institution and publisher deal to publisher deal, so we have decided to try and get to the bottom of our understanding core journal titles.

The NESLi2 model licence defines a core title as, “the core collection of journals selected by the Institution from the Licensed Material. The core collection will be updated by the Publisher in consultation with the Institution at least annually. The Publisher will list the selected journals in the core collection of each Institution in Schedule 2 of such Institution’s NESLi2 Licence for Journals.” (1)

So basically, the core titles are the ones we had before the big deal – any title that is subscribed to individually (either as electronic, print or electronic and print) and is invoiced individually. Core titles can also be found both outside the negotiated big deal – this is where we have a part of the deal, say the STM collection, but the publisher requires us to keep subscriptions to all of their content (see below).

Post-cancellation access to subscribed content is dependent on whether the title is core or part of a package. Generally for titles that are part of negotiated deals, once the deal has ended you will only retain access to the electronic issues for the years that you were paying. For example, if a deal is negotiated between 2009-2012 for access to a group of journals covering the years 1990-present, while you are paying for the deal you will have access to all the electronic issues between 1990 and the present, however once the deal has expired if you don’t renew your subscription you will only retain access to electronic issues between 2009-2012.

Core titles, as historical individual subscriptions, allow you to retain access to all the issues for the years that you have subscribed to. So for the core titles within deals you will still retain access to the years you have paid for. Obviously post-cancellation access is completely dependent on if the publisher allows it or not.

Cancellation allowances are governed by core and non-core titles and can vary dependent on an institutions subscriptions and are never consistent between publishers. For example, Huddersfield subscribes to the STM collection from Wiley and has core titles within this collection and also within the SSH collection which we do not subscribe to. Generally we are not allowed to cancel any core title inside the collection we subscribe to or outside, although as we have a cancellation allowance specified in licence we can cancel 5% for 2012 and 2.5% in each of 2013 and 2014 of our core titles within the STM collection and the SSH collection. However, for any title cancelled within a package all access is lost. These rules apply to any titles with an e-element.

The Oxford University Press NESLI 2012/13 deal differs in that it is e-only content and is based on the JISC pricing bands rather that core subs pricing. This has eliminated the idea of core subs until the end of the deal. During the deal all core subs are identifiable but are in a limbo state until the end of the deal. When the deal expires all core titles will be returned to their previous status and will be invoiced individually unless we cancel them or another deal is negotiated. Within this deal access to the titles as part of the deals will be available for the years you have subscribed to but access to those titles identified as core will be retained from any previous access you may have had in addition to the years of the deal.

The other publishers Taylor and Francis, Elsevier and Springer also have the notion of core titles within their deals. While the definition of what constitutes a core title remains the same throughout the different publishers, each individual publisher will impose different regulations and restrictions about post-cancellation access and cancellation allowances on their core titles. As demonstrated above Wiley and Oxford differ in cancellation allowances and post-cancellation access rights for their core titles but further variants can be found with the other publishers Taylor and Francis, Elsevier and Springer.

The question is – how do we translate this complicated process to KB+ and 360 Resource Manager? Especially when we have core titles that either don’t exist for the deal (the OUP model) or that are not even in the deal (the Wiley model).


1. JISC Collections, “The Model NESLi2 Licence for Journals”,