Research Article

Elsevier Title Level Pricing: Dissecting the Bowl of Spaghetti


INTRODUCTION This study will explore the issue of pricing opacity associated with prices paid by academic libraries that have recently unbundled from the Elsevier Big Deal journal package. Additionally, this study will provide metrics for assessing the fair market value (FMV) of unbundled journal packages. The pricing metrics will assist academic libraries in negotiations of subscription and open access agreements. METHODS Pricing information was gathered from five academic libraries. The data was analyzed to arrive at two key metrics (adjustment from list price and the average cost per journal) for establishing comparables, i.e., prices paid by similarly sized institutions, to assess the collective FMVs for unbundled Elsevier journal packages. RESULTS & DISCUSSION The study results show that significant variations existed in the way institutions were charged for content. Additionally, the comparables show wide variations among institutions when measured by the overall adjustment from list price and the average cost per journal. CONCLUSION The pricing metrics developed in this study, adjustment from list price (ALP) and average cost per journal (ACJ), will help libraries assess their final net prices for individual journal subscriptions. The results will be useful to administrators, collection development personnel, and negotiating teams in understanding the prices paid by other institutions for unbundled journal packages to determine FMVs.

Keywords: Big Deal, pricing, fair market value, transparency, scholarly communications

How to Cite:

Thornton J. B. & Brundy C., (2021) “Elsevier Title Level Pricing: Dissecting the Bowl of Spaghetti”, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 9(1). p.eP2410. doi:



Published on
13 May 2021
Peer Reviewed