How do we calculate title-by-title subscription costs?

Learn where Unsub gets its journal price data, and how that data is used to forecast your future costs of subscription

A key data source for Unsub is the title-by-title price for each journal--the actual real-world cost you'll pay, should you choose to subscribe to that journal individually outside any Big Deal.

For any given journal, there are two possible price sources for the title-by-title price. There are also two price modifiers Unsub uses to fine-tune the forecast. Putting all that together lets us predict the annual price you'll pay over the next five years, if you to subscribe to a given journal.

Price sources:

1. Custom uploaded price: you can upload a simple spreadsheet with custom prices for each journal. Any custom prices you upload will override the default list prices. This is also how to provide prices for journals without a default price.

2. No price: If you haven't uploaded a custom price for a title, then the price is unknown. In that case, this journal will be omitted from forecasting, because we don't know how they will affect the financial side of the model. Your scenario will show a warning.

Price modifiers:

Once you've got prices, there are also two ways those prices can be modified.

1. Title-by-title subscription cost growth: Unsub is designed to forecast your costs and fulfillment, not just report them. To do that, we need to be able to take into account changes in subscription pricing over time. That's what this parameter does: it simply describes the percentage price increase expected every year. The default, based on industry averages, is 8%, but you can change this in your scenario's menu, under "Parameters ➞ Costs ➞ Title-by-title subscription cost growth."

2. Title-by-title content fee: There's also a second parameter that modifies journals subscription prices, and that's the "Title-by-title content fee." This is an extra (read: hidden) fee that publishers often charge on top of their quoted subscription costs, and so it's important to account for in order to get an accurate cost estimate. By default this is set to 5.7% (a recently-reported fee for Elsevier) but again, you can edit this in the scenario's menu, under "Parameters ➞ Costs ➞ Title-by-title 'content fee.'"

Putting it all together

Let's look at an example of how this all fits together; we'll call it Journal X. First, we'll find the current price of a title-by-title subscription by looking it up in our price table. Let's say you've uploaded a price of $1000.

For year one of the five-year forecast, we'd predict you'll pay $1000 plus the 5.7% "content fee" of $57, for a total of $1,057.

For year two, we also add in the 8% increase in subscription cost, giving us $1,080 for the subscription. Adding in the content fee ($61.56 now), we estimate a total of $1,141.56.

For years three, four, and five, we do the same. Finally, we average all five years together to get the estimated average annual cost of title-by-title subscription.

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