Whether we like it or not, the world of research is fiercely competitive. For life science companies and academic institutions, success often depends on being the first one to the finish line (e.g. first to get a new drug to market; first to publish a research paper on a given topic).
But as research professionals rush to uncover data and information that will support their studies, convenience can take precedence over cost. Literature search can be draining and time-consuming, so once they've found what they need, it’s not surprising that many people will simply buy the articles—and move on with their work. But directly purchasing before reviewing other acquisition options can be a costly mistake.
With the average cost to access a journal article hovering over $30 a pop, individuals and organizations can save a lot of money over time by simply checking for lower price or free options. Before you spend another penny from your literature acquisition budget, make sure you really do need to pay for it:
Do you already have access to the article via an existing journal subscription? Even if you don't, your organization might. Organizations spend a hefty sum on journal subscriptions and site licenses, so it’s important to leverage them.
Do you already own the article? This may seem like a no-brainer, but you don’t want to pay twice for a paper you may have purchased—and then forgotten about.
Is the article available for free via Open Access? According to Duke Libraries research, 59% of the most highly cited articles ever published are behind a paywall. A high number. But on the bright side, it means 4 out of 10 articles have a fairly good chance of being freely available.
Is there an option to rent that fits your needs? If so, you can often pay up to 75% less than the purchase price. And if you decide to buy the paper after the rental period is up, the amount you paid will be credited toward the purchase price.
But who has the time for going down this checklist?
There’s an “easy button” for finding your best access option
Thanks to technology, identifying the most cost-efficient (and copyright-compliant) way to access an article doesn’t have to take up extra time. If you’re using an automated document retrieval solution, for example, advanced filters will do the legwork for you—instantly determining your lowest-cost option, checking your subscription holdings, and providing duplicate order alerts—resulting in an average 20% savings in annual acquisition costs.
Want more tips on how to save time and money on scholarly literature search and acquisition? Check out our previous post, which is the first installment of this three-part series on The ROI of Document Delivery.