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Taylor & Francis Group responds to the open letter from SCONUL

Laura Montgomery Communications Manager, Taylor & Francis

Taylor & Francis would like to provide the following context and statement following recent feedback from the library and academic community in relation to our new policy to introduce a rolling wall of 20 years’ courtesy access to subscribers. This replaces our prior policy of access back to 1997.

Taylor & Francis first started to publish journals online in 1997 and since then has delivered paid for access to the current volume year, and courtesy access to any preceding volume years not previously purchased by the customer, back to 1997. This has been an ongoing benefit of subscribing to both individual journal titles, and to our more expansive packages under the “big deal” access model.

Each year the courtesy access has grown by an additional volume, and in 2017 the full range extended to a considerable 20 years. Provision of this courtesy access bears a cost and ongoing liability, a continuation of which we believed to be unsustainable in the long-term. Looking forward, this would extend to 25 years in 2022, and 30 years in 2027. Therefore, to preserve our ability to service the needs of academics and libraries for the long term, we made a decision to limit courtesy access to the current level of 20 years, and believed that as this was the maximum access range ever delivered to our customers, it was not unreasonable to implement that change. We have never sought to reduce courtesy access from the current level of twenty years, rather we sought not to extend it further.

At no time has the rolling wall policy applied to journal content that was purchased and owned in good faith in 1997, or indeed in any later years, and those access rights are of course preserved. We have worked hard to maintain adequate records that reflect those rights, and continue to work with librarians to make adjustments as necessary.

However, in recent weeks we have received considerable feedback on this new policy. The most considered of these views held that, whilst imposing a limit to the content range provided as courtesy access was not unreasonable, no longer having access to the 1997 volume year will create inconvenience and interruption to the research process, and an additional administrative burden on librarians. Further, that many of our customers have held long-standing positive relationships with us, investing in our service over a number of years, and that our new policy does not take account of these partnerships.

Taylor & Francis not only prides itself on the quality of our service, it also places a very high value on the relationships we have built with the scholarly community. Consequently, we have listened to our customers and recognise that we should act upon this feedback. To that end, we have decided to reinstate courtesy access back to 1997 and will not enact the rolling wall for Taylor & Francis “full access” Library and Subject Collection customers. This new policy applies with immediate effect and we encourage customers to contact us at their earliest convenience to discuss how this will apply in their specific case.

We apologise for the concern that the new policy generated, this was resolutely not our intention. Taylor & Francis is committed to remaining a long-term partner not just to researchers and librarians, but to all those that participate in the scholarly process.

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