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Analyzing Journal Value

Journal costs are a significant portion of a health sciences library budget; those costs can change dramatically from year to year. Evaluating those costs in terms of cost per use, cost to store, percentage of price increase per year and cost to comparable journal is essential in terms of budget planning and justification.

Cost Per Use

  • Annual subscription cost = $330
  • Uses = 253
  • Cost per use = $1.30*
  • Formula: Subscription price/Uses

*This number is not meaningful by itself; the cost per use only becomes meaningful when compared to the cost of other articles, i.e. cost per article from another journal, DOCLINE costs, cost from the publisher, etc.

Cost Per Article

  • Monthly copy has 15 articles, editorials and letters*
  • Journal cost per month: $330/12 = $27.50
  • Formula: Annual subscription price/12
  • Cost per article: $27.50/15 = $1.83
  • Formula: Cost per issue/number of articles per issue

*This assumes that the value of articles, editorials and letters are equal. If you think they have different values, you will have to count the number of each and apply the formula to each category individually.

Percentage of Cost Increase

  • Current annual subscription price = $330
  • New annual subscription price= $1200
  • Percentage of increase = 263%
  • Formula: New price - Current price/Current price x 100 = % increase

Librarians can use these formulas to:

  • Evaluate financial impact of use
  • Compare similar journals or available format of the same journal (or other materials) to determine cost effectiveness of purchase
  • Negotiate for increased funding
  • Budget reporting

If you have suggestions for additional materials, please contact us at rml@rml4.utah.edu or 801-587-3650.