CzechELib is a six year project subsidised from the EU Operating program with a total subsidy of almost 50 million euro in the years 2017 to 2022. The main goal is to establish a national centre for electronic resources. The first year 2017 is devoted to setting up and equipping the centre and negotiating the resources for the years 2018 to 2022. The grant will support both the establishment and the operation of the centre throughout the whole time span of the project. Acquisition of electronic resources will be supported from the EU grant just in the years 2018 till 2020. Starting January 1, 2021 the subsidy from the state budget is expected to be reinstated. This is important from the point of view of contract terms. Though we planned to close agreements for 5 year terms, we decided to sign 3 years contracts with optional extension to next two years so that there is a clear possibility to terminate the contracts in 2020 without sanctions.
From January 1, 2023 onwards both procurement of e-resources and operations of CzechELib should be funded from the state R&D budget.
A. Principles, participants
Q A.1. Does CzechELib replace the current consortia?
CzechELib is the only channel through which the central state subsidy for purchase of e-resources shall be allocated from now on. At the same time CzechELib shall become the sole negotiator for such supported e-resources. This role has been officially assigned to NTK/CzechELib by Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic. Of course it is possible that institutions form their separate consortia, but they cannot get the state subsidy.
Q A.2. Can you tell us how the nomination of the participating institutions happened? What was your message to institutions?
At the end of 2016 all possible candidates (including all members of current consortia) were invited to take part in this project and to let us know what e-resources they would like to subscribe to. We announced it on our website, on the website of the Ministry of Education and in the Business Journal. Hopefully everyone knew and it was explained that it is an opportunity for the research institutions. We asked the interested institutions to nominate a representative which would communicate with us. In January 2017 we opened the first round of electronic resources nominations. We then sent out a request for preliminary quote to all the publishers that appeared on the list. To our great surprise - there were almost 300 publishers/electronic resources nominated.
Q A.3. Which institutions are eligible for the funding? What are the criteria?
As this consortium is supported from the R&D money, Ministry of Culture has decided, that in order to be eligible for receiving the state subsidy via CzechELib the institutions have to have a status of a research organization as defined in the Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 Chapter I, Article 2, (83) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32014R0651&from=en. (Institution that either does research and/or disseminates results of the research). Institutions that do not have the status of a research organization can still be part of CzechELib, but cannot receive the subsidy.
Q A.4. Can institutions cancel their subscriptions during the project? Under what conditions and with what consequences? Or do they have to stay with the selected databases throughout the whole project?
We expect the institutions to have responsible approach to their membership in existing consortia. Consequences of such steps would depend mostly upon the publishers and their conditions.
Q A.5. Can new institutions join the project anytime?
Can institutions during the project join consortia for resources they have not signed to at the start of the project?
We want to keep CzechELib as open and flexible as possible. In principle yes, however such step would have to be approved by the Board of Experts and confirmed by the Steering Committee. Plus how many institutions can get the subsidy depends on how much money we have. Also we will have to take into consideration a qualified legal opinion.
Q A.6. How about institutions that still have running funding from other projects?
This would depend mainly on contract conditions of particular project, which we would have to consider. In general, we will gladly incorporate them into the CzechELib consortium, however, if their financing went from an EU project, we cannot subsidize the resource in the sustainability period of their project, and they have to pay it fully from their own pocket during such period. However, we would like the publishers to treat them as full members of the respective CzechELib consortium.
Q A.7. We have heard from several institutions that they want to continue beyond 2018, which is covered by current contract and they want to switch over to CzechELib consortium - but we have not received a request for a quote, although we are the only vendor who is able to provide this content.
If they have funding available for 2018 and/or later from EU grant, they are not eligible for the CzechELib subsidy. If they have no funding available for 2018 and later, we would like to take over the substance of the contract; however we have to enter into a new contract following a public tender. Please let us know about such situation via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q B.1. What is the process and criteria of choosing content? Do you have any priorities?
No, there is no prejudice. Currently we are developing a methodology that will set the criteria like a minimum size of consortia etc. Also the Board of Experts will have to confirm the resource as essential for R&D.
Q B.2. Can institutions choose to add additional content during the period of 2018-2022? Will they be required to license this content outside of CzechELib, or will there be flexibility to include new content later?
Every institution had the opportunity to say in which resources they are interested so currently we work just with these resources. However, in the future it shall be possible to add some new resources to CzechELib depending mainly on the funding available.
Q B.3. Can a publisher offer additional content to member institutions via CzechELib?
Yes, but later on. We hope to have capacity to offer such service by the end of 2018.
Q B.4. We have a list of preliminary institutions, that are interested in the content - so after we send you our offers, you will be able to ask also the other institutions that haven't opt in in the first list - just to see if there's order interest or is it limited to that list only?
At the beginning of 2017 we have asked all the institutions whether they want to take part in CzechELib national consortium. If they did, they gave us their wish list of what they want to subscribe to. They received the preliminary pricing and they shall make the final decision whether they want to go on or leave. We are doing our best to meet the needs of the institutions, however we are under extreme time pressure. We have to perform public tenders for all the approved resources, enter all contracts with institutions and with publishers and make sure the resources are accessible from January 1, 2018. We are sure there will be a way how to join later on since we want to keep CzechELib as open as possible, but we have to create exact rules for that and that is one of the challenges for the upcoming year.
Q B.5. What is your approach to the resources that are available on multiple platforms at the same time by different vendors?
One option is to target at the lowest price, which is logical. But on the other hand on different platforms you may have different possibilities of integration, features etc. Currently we are tuning the methodology at the Board of Experts level.
Q C.1. Is there any kind of format of preliminary prices you prefer? Would it be beneficial to have the price broken up by each institution individually showing each fee? We received the matrix - some of the institutions asked for multiple products from us, so each one of those would be individually itemized or is it enough we send a global fee?
Most publishers provided the price proposal per institution applying for a particular resource. If you prefer to give us the lump sum for a set for institutions, we will have to recalculate it. In most cases we expect the price to be split for individual institutions. If you wish to provide us also with a proposal of an unlimited nationwide license, we will gladly evaluate it.
Q C.2. Do you expect the price quotes to be flat and equal for each of the 5 years or should they include let’s say 5% or 10% growth?
It is up to you. We don't mind the prices rising according to the world/EU inflation. We are accustomed to different models.
Q C.3. The currency of the offers should be local or euros or other?
We expect your usual currency. Whichever you use.
Q C.4. When are you going to pay us?
We would like to pay annually, in the year when you deliver the content. State budget is usually quite slow, so we would like to ask you to be patient - will ask for the due day of payment, let's say end of April - half of May, because money will come to the institutions in March/April, so we won´t be able to collect the contributions and hence to pay earlier.
Q C.5. What's your payment term - 90 days, 120 days? It has to be legally incorporated in the License agreements.
I believe it is fully legal that the payment is delayed by let's say 90 days. We expect the invoice to be issued at the beginning of a calendar year. To be on the safe side, we would prefer 120 or even better 150 days term. If this is unacceptable for you we can send you a down payment at the end of the preceding year. But we are strongly trying to avoid that, since it causes accounting problems.
Q C.6. You mentioned that preliminary pricing will be reviewed by the Board of Experts. How will the Board decide if the prices are fair enough?
To the Board we invited people that are serious and professional enough and have experience with the processes. They are not acting on behalf of their institutions, but represent the subject area. We hope that you are serious too and will not increase the price to double if we decide to sign a contract with you. If there are much less institutions, then the price will of course change. We have to start from something. We tell the institutions to expect approximately the same sums as last year.
Q C.7. After you receive preliminary prices, do you expect to have meetings with every publisher? Will you meet the publishers directly and present the situation?
That would be too time consuming. We expect that you give us reasonable figures that we can pass to our participating institutions. If there is no interest, we will get in touch with you. If it is acceptable, we will proceed further on. If there is something extraordinary, we will definitely get in touch with you as well.
Q D.1. Money comes from EU - so every year there will be a tender?
No. We would like to have a contract for 5 years with the prices for 5 years, paying year by year.
Q D.2. What is the amount of the subsidies?
The state subsidy for the participating institutions will be 70 % for citation databases and managerial tools and up to 50 % for the other resources. We have a fixed amount of money for each of the years 2018 to 2020, so the ratio of subsidy will depend on number of participating institutions.
Q D.3. How will you decide about the funding/the subsidies for the institutions? Will you decide that after seeing all the offers and comparing them against the funds that you have or you have set of rules?
First the Board of Experts will assess all the price proposals and decide where to draw a line. This way we´ll get the whole sum needed for the year. Following the decision of the project Steering Committee that the citation databases and the managerial tools will be supported by 70 %, we cut down 70 % of the subsidy for Web of Science and Scopus and we spread the rest evenly to the remaining electronic resources approved. We hope that would give subsidy of around 50 %.
Q D.4. Some institutions are smaller than others, the funding that will be given to them is more important to them than to the bigger ones - will that be somehow taken into consideration?
We have no better idea than to spread the subsidy even irrespective of electronic resource cost and institution size. The institutions receive preliminary quotes and then they will decide whether they want to go on with it or not.
Q D.5. After you do the matrix of 100 resources vs. 130 institutions - what if an institution has some leftovers? Will there be a second survey?
It depends on the available funding. If we have some money left and there at least three or four parties interested in an additional resource (depends on the approved methodology), then yes.
Q E.1. Does every contract have to go through a public tender?
With regard to funding from the EU operating program all contracts entered by CzechELib must be subject to a public tender process under Czech law. This applies also to the publishers who have a valid contract with the current consortium but which will be financed with the subsidy through CzechELib from 2018 onwards.
Q E.2. Is the language of the tender procedure going to be Czech? Do we need to use a third party - a lawyer? Have it translated? Is it by law it must be in Czech language?
We are glad to announce that we must not discriminate anyone based on the language. Therefore we expect most of the tender procedures and the negotiations to be conducted in English. The text of the contract itself shall be in English too.
Q E.3. Can you let us know the time frame of the tender policy in the Czech Republic?
Well, it could be actually quite short, because we believe that most of the tender procedures will be almost identical. These will be single supplier tenders, tendering the only possible supplier. This could be a quite short procedure. There is a Government committee for transparent tendering in the Czech Republic and we are preparing a document for them showing a typical proposed contract, hoping that it will speed up the procedure.
Q E.4. The whole tendering/licensing process will be finished in 2017 and access will be started in 2018 - do you have and expected time to start the access?
We have to guarantee the accessibility of resources from January 1, 2018.
Q F.1. Are you going to send us a standard ChechELib Licence agreement or would you like us all to send you our own versions of our own Licenses instead?
We have CzechELib Standard License Agreement. If you find some provisions unacceptable, we will discuss it.
Q F.2. Are you looking for the direct licence?
If this means direct license with the publisher than we are open to this option.
Q F.3. Will CzechELib sign a license on behalf of all the member institutions? If so how many years should the consortium license cover?
Yes. CzechELib will sign one licence for the particular resource/collection with the publisher, and part of the licence will be a list of components/single resources and list of participating institutions. Besides that CzechELib will sign contracts with participating institutions. Current licence should cover 5 years with the possibility to terminate the contract in 2020 without sanctions (as explained in Q A.1).
Q F.4. Will CzechELib be able to work with a single invoice and make a single payment to the publisher/content provider?
Yes, we believe so. Just to be on the safe side in case the contribution of a consortia member is delayed, we would like to have an option of an incomplete payment, obviously with an agreed penalisation.
Q G.1. You prefer communicating about the content directly with the publishers, but in case there are certain agreements in place and the publishers appoint an agent, are you willing to negotiate with the agent and accept the price proposal from him?
The underlining principle is that CzechELib negotiates the essential elements of the contracts directly with the publishers, not through intermediaries. By this we mean prices and possible annual increase, flipping to open access and making changes in the list of participants or titles. We understand that some publishers will authorize their agents to perform certain activities on their behalf and we do not mind the presence of agents during negotiations and later during operation of the contract but we insist to negotiate crucial issues directly with the publishers.
If you already have a valid contract with some set of institutions here in the Czech Republic and they would like to continue in cooperation, we still have to retender it. Everything we shall finance must pass through a public tender procedure. As far as using intermediaries in the public tender is concerned, we have to wait for the legal opinion from the lawyers.
Q G.2. Where can the agents come in? We don´t mind if you want to negotiate directly, keeping in touch, but if we already agree on prices, can we then pass it to agents to perform the tender for us?
We certainly will negotiate the principal points of the license directly with the publishers, but we do not mind if they leave the operational issues on their agents. As to your being represented by the agents in the tender see the information here.
Q H.1. There are certain points in the CzechELib Standard License Agreement regarding the permanent access. This is something that majority of the companies will not be able to accept because of a number of reasons (technical, legal...). So what's the idea of handling that?
This is relevant primarily if not exclusively to article/journal databases. We had the permanent access clause in many contracts we have signed and it is not necessarily permanent access on the site of publisher. We believe that we should be entitled to having access to whatever content we had once paid for. As long as we have a valid agreement, the content is accessible on your site. As soon as our contract terminates, we have to have access to what we paid for on our site. Or in case you disappear from the market (which we don’t hope to happen), then we still have to have access to the content procured earlier. We will keep the content in an escrow and will be allowed to use it only under conditions we agree upon.
Q H.2. Please explain the Print and Read principle in connection to Open Access.
It started so, that the German Max Planck Gesellschaft published White paper on Open Access (https://goo.gl/gVBWXb), which has shown that the volume of money that should be paid for gold Open Access for the whole scientific output of the whole Germany is approximately equal to the sum of subscriptions for the same titles. The similar finding is true for Scoap3 project (https://scoap3.org).
We believe there is other way how to achieve the same income for you besides paying a subscription fee. And that is paying for the published article, which you usually call APC. We prefer to call it Publish and Read instead, PAR, showing we are PARtners.
We need you, publishers, because through your editorial and publishing work the quality of research is proven and based on that the funding is channelled back to the research institutions. You are part of the scholarly information cycle. The research community needs you as a vehicle of communication of the results of their research.