Curtis Brundy is the Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Communications and Collections at Iowa State University. He is active in efforts to transform scholarly communications and currently chairs the OA2020 US Working Group. During our webinar Using Dimensions to Transform Collection Development, he discussed the challenges of negotiating open access agreements and how he uses Dimensions to support his work.

The shift to Open Access

More and more academic institutions and publishers are making the shift to Open Access  publishing – a move that has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises. Open Access replaces the subscription model with one that enables researchers to access content freely and make their work available publicly, regardless of their access to grant funds. 

This shift requires academic institutions and publishers to establish Open Access agreements, which are often called Transformative agreements. To evaluate and negotiate these agreements successfully, they need extensive, reliable and in-depth data.

How Dimensions supports Iowa State

A big part of Curtis Brundy’s work at Iowa State is leading the university’s transformation towards Open Access. “I’m taking traditional subscription spending and figuring out with publishers and societies university presses how we can convert that spend and support open content,” says Curtis. “And I’ve been using Dimensions to inform some of those decisions.”

To establish good Open Access agreements, it’s essential for Curtis and his team to have a deep understanding of their institution’s publishing profile. “This wasn’t something we necessarily needed in the subscription age, but when you’re negotiating Open Access agreements, understanding how your institution is publishing is key,” he explains. “If we’re going to have a conversation with a publisher, I can jump quickly into Dimensions and see exactly what Iowa State is doing with that publisher, what journals our faculty are publishing in and so on, because they would be the key stakeholders for that particular agreement.” 

Curtis gives some examples. “If we want to get a subscribe-to-open offer from, say, the International Water Association, I can quickly look at their information and see to what extent there’s any publishing going on with them from Iowa State. Another example: we wanted to raise awareness on our campus about the agreement with Oxford University Press, and it turned out that the top journal we were publishing in was the Journal of Animal Science. We could see that in Dimensions before we even made the agreement; it’s just very, very easy to get that kind of information.”

Value for money 

For Curtis, the main added value that Dimensions brings is in its price. He points out: “At the moment we have people on campus using other tools as well as Dimensions. But as budget situations continue to deteriorate, we probably don’t need all of them and price will become a bigger factor. If you’re talking about value, the price of Dimensions is key.”

A competitive new tool

Curtis has found it encouraging to see new tools such as Dimensions coming into a space that’s been dominated by just a few players.  “It’s a healthy thing for the market to have a product like Dimensions that competes on price, competes on usability, competes on the size and scope of the index and what it can do” he says. “We’re happy to see this product coming in, and it’s actually very easy to use as well.”

Campus-wide benefits 

The free version of Dimensions provides openly-available search and metrics for over 100 million publications, while the licensed version opens up access to content on grants, clinical trials, patents, datasets and policy documents. 

Although Iowa State University has been piloting Dimensions with a set number of seats, Curtis is looking into a full institutional license for the next fiscal year. This provides campus-wide access to anyone with an associated email address, enabling teams to use Dimensions for strategic planning, research impact assessments, funding and grant sourcing, faculty research and many other purposes, by departments ranging from leadership to marketing. As Curtis notes: “My own use of Dimensions is only a sliver of what it can do.” 

Are you interested in learning how Dimensions can be used at your institution? Contact us to schedule a demo.