Research database being removed from all Cal State campuses

LexisNexis is an online database where students and staff can access digital news publications and articles, legal information and business information.  The content is available through each of the 23 California State University librarys’ online search tool.  According to a university email, the database was originally funded by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, however, this funding is being withdrawn and the cost of the database without the subsidy was “prohibitive.”   As of June 30, LexisNexis will no longer be accessible to the California State Universities, including Sonoma State University — a topic of concern for Sonoma State Sociology Professor Peter Phillips.

“I am strongly opposed [to LexisNexis being cut].  The largest state college system in the U.S. should have LexisNexis as a research source,” said Phillips. “[Doing this] says that full access to information is not important.”

At Sonoma State, LexisNexis is available to all students and faculty commonly used for assigned class research. Phillips explains that LexisNexis provides essential research and sourcing for his class.

LexisNexis is an essential part of Phillips’ sociology of media class and he has sent an appeal to Sonoma State’s dean of the library in hopes of persuading the university to keep the program.  

“Sociology of Media is a long time course at SSU linked to Project Censored.  We release annual book Censored on the most important censored news stories of the year,” said Phillips. “We have used Proquest and Factiva for news story searches, but Lexis Nexis is not only the best most comprehensive source but it offers transcripts of TV and Radio news as well.”

According to Sonoma State University Library Dean Karen Schneider, the departure of LexisNexis from all CSU libraries is due to the dramatically increasing costs of scholarly resources.  Instead, Sonoma State will provide access to an alternative database called WestLaw, which, according to Schneider offers more resources than the limited version of LexisNexis previously available through the chancellor’s office.

Schneider explained for at least three decades, the cost of scholarly resources has been increasing 6 - 8 percent annually, and that journals can be expensive.

“Universities are paying exorbitant annual licensing fees to for-profit publishers in order to access publicly funded research produced by university faculty,” said Schneider. “That’s not sustainable for any of the stakeholders, from the chancellor to the universities to the libraries that select and provide access to scholarly communications.”

However, according to Schneider, with the removal of LexisNexis, Sonoma State will have access to an alternative online database.
According to Schneider, the version of Lexis-Nexis the Sonoma State University Library was able to afford was fairly limited.

As of July 1, Sonoma State will have access to WestLaw, which is more comprehensive for legal research than the version of LexisNexis the library was licensing, Schneider said.

“It offers scholarly content and newspapers we didn’t have access to, and frankly is less clunky than LexisNexis,” said Schnieder. “So overall, we’re getting better value for the dollar.”

The WestLaw database will be available through the Library’s A-Z list of databases as well as the Library homepage.  

“SSU’s faculty, students, and staff can be very proud that Sonoma State University is deeply engaged in statewide and national open access initiatives to speak truth to the scholarly-industrial complex and make scholarship available to everyone,” said Schneider.