Digital archival collections – group purchasing pilot one – outcomes and next steps

Between March and July 2017 Jisc ran the ‘Digital archival collections group purchasing pilot’ in collaboration with three publishers (Adam Matthew Digital, Brill and ProQuest) in order to make digital collections of primary source material more affordable for institutions to purchase, so that researchers, teachers and learners can enjoy access to an even wider range of resources.

The pilot leveraged institutions’ collective purchasing power to lower costs using the principle “The more products are bought, the lower the price”. Each of the three publishers made available a selection of digital collections with a transparent list price that increased in discount based on how many products were bought by institutions’ collectively across any of their products.

The pilot was set up by Jisc in response to requirements from its members to receive more support for a more efficient, coordinated and transparent approach to the acquisition of digital archival collections and to tackle the issue of expensive recurrent platform fees.

How it worked

Details of the publishers’ products were listed on the Jisc Collections catalogue including list prices and discount triggers. Institutions were encouraged to pledge interest in titles to gauge appetite for the titles offered by the publishers prior to placing their order through the Jisc Collections web site. The final discount was calculated after the cut-off date of 15 July based on how many products had been bought across institutions per publisher.

The blog post ‘Jisc sets new group-purchasing pilot with publishers to lower cost of digital archival collections’ describes the first pilot in greater detail.


  • Institutions collectively help each other to drive down the cost of digital archival
  • Offers a more efficient, coordinated and transparent approach to the acquisition of digital archival collections
  • Institutions can easily compare products on offer
  • All titles are a one-off purchase with no recurrent platform/hosting fee
  • Based on a simplified and uniform approach (Jisc model license) to procuring and licensing collections from multiple publishers

Take-up, Jisc bands and range of products

20 HEIs purchased a total of 29 products across the three publishers. The range of products offered by the publishers had take-up across all Jisc HE bands, and was particularly appealing to mid-lower band institutions, with Jisc band 5 purchasing over 50% of the total product spend.

The total list price of the products on offer was just over half a million pounds and the collective purchasing power of the participating institutions saved the sector just over 25% off the list price, £127,000.

Next steps – Pilot 2

Following demand from members, we are expanding the pilot to offer a larger number of digital archival collections across publisher participating in phase two. The launch date and participating publishers will be announced shortly with the intention of running the pilot for the remainder of the academic year.

We’ll continuously update the discount threshold reached from each publisher. This will provide a clear indicator of the level of discount available to institutions across the products offered by the publishers.

For more information on either of our pilots, please contact Karen Colbron (

By Karen Colbron

I focus on access and use of digital content in learning, teaching and research.

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