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Elsevier journal negotiations

Content section: 

Open access publishing: Latest news

UC agrees to ‘transformative’ open access publishing deal with Cambridge University Press
The crusade for open access, and what the Library is doing to help

Alternative access

Alternative access to Elsevier articles
Quick guide: How to access Elsevier articles

UC and Elsevier: What you need to know

Latest news
UC and Elsevier: FAQ
Questions? Contact us

UC and Elsevier: Learn more

UC’s stance on open access
What UC faculty are saying
UC and Elsevier: In the news

Open statement: Why UC cut ties with Elsevier

March 20, 2019 // Updated April 25, 2019

The University of California has taken a firm stand on both open access to publicly funded research and fiscal responsibility by deciding not to renew its journal subscriptions with Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific publisher. Here’s why:

Elsevier’s proposal

Under Elsevier’s proposed terms, the publisher would capture significant new revenue on top of the university’s current multimillion-dollar subscription while significantly diminishing UC’s rights to Elsevier content. Elsevier’s latest proposal, dated January 31, 2019, did consider some of UC’s conditions, including providing UC authors with open access publishing options across much of the publisher’s portfolio of journals. However, there were several conditions that UC was unwilling to accept:

  • Higher costs: Elsevier’s proposal would impose much higher costs on the university as a whole. UC has consistently requested a contract that would result in open access for 100 percent of UC-authored research articles. As presented, Elsevier’s proposal assumed a much smaller number of open access articles, yet would still increase UC’s costs. When we calculated what it would cost to achieve 100 percent open access under the terms that Elsevier proposed, UC’s total payments would increase by about 80 percent, or an additional $30 million over three years. UC’s goal is cost-neutrality in the transition to open access.
  • Reduced rights: The proposal would have required UC to forgo perpetual access to a significant number of Elsevier journals. UC expects that perpetual access to journal content will be part of an integrated open access agreement.
  • Limitations on UC’s financial support for authors: The proposal did not enable UC to provide full financial support to authors who lack access to grant funds. UC is committed to supporting all UC authors who wish to publish open access.
  • Excluded journals: Elsevier’s terms would have precluded open access publishing in some high-profile Elsevier journals, such as those from Cell Press and The Lancet, and some society journals. UC is committed to making all the work of all of its authors freely available.

Read more.

UC terminates subscriptions with Elsevier in push for open access to publicly funded research

TO: The UC Berkeley academic community

FROM: Paul Alivisatos, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Barbara Spackman, Chair, Academic Senate - Berkeley Division
Jeff MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Professor

RE: Outcome of UC Negotiations with Elsevier

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to share the outcome of the University of California’s negotiations to renew its systemwide license with scholarly journal publisher Elsevier, which have been underway for many months.

What’s happening

While we did make progress, particularly in the past few weeks, toward defining a model for open access publishing of UC research, Elsevier was ultimately unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research, as stated in UC’s faculty-driven principles on scholarly communication, while integrating open access publishing fees and subscription fees into a single cost-controlled contract.

The Academic Senate today also expressed its support for UC’s position with regard to the Elsevier negotiations.

In the end, cost, in particular, proved to be an insurmountable challenge. For example, Elsevier’s most recent proposal did not include any cap on the total amount UC faculty could end up paying in article publishing fees. Their model also would not have allowed us to fully subsidize article fees for authors who lack the funds themselves. To meet UC’s goal of open access publication for all UC authors, Elsevier would have charged authors over $10 million per year in addition to the libraries’ current multi-million dollar subscription. The university is not willing to accept a deal that increases Elsevier’s profits at the expense of our faculty. As a result, UC has announced that it will not be signing a new contract with Elsevier at this time. Read more.

UC and Elsevier negotiations continue; UC retains access to articles for now

TO: The UC Berkeley academic community
FROM: Jeff MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Professor

February 1, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

As described in our open letter sent December 19, 2018, the University of California has been in negotiations to renew its systemwide license with scholarly journal publisher Elsevier.

Throughout these negotiations, UC has remained committed to two key goals: facilitating open access publishing of UC research, and holding down costs by integrating open access article processing charges (APCs) and subscription fees into a single contract. 

UC and Elsevier have agreed to continue good-faith discussions for the time being. For now, access to Elsevier articles is expected to continue. Should we learn of any changes to access at UC, we will notify our community. Read more.

Open letter to the UC Berkeley academic community: Potential changes to UC’s relationship with Elsevier in January 2019

TO: The UC Berkeley academic community

FROM: Paul Alivisatos, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Barbara Spackman, Chair, Academic Senate - Berkeley Division
Jeff MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Professor

RE: Potential Changes to UC's Relationship with Elsevier in January 2019

December 19, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

The University of California is renegotiating its systemwide licenses with some of the world’s largest scholarly journal publishers, including industry giant Elsevier. Through these negotiations, UC is seeking to constrain the excessive costs of journal subscriptions and to make it easier and more affordable for UC authors to publish their research open access.

If we are unable to reach an agreement with Elsevier before our current contract ends on December 31, we may lose access to future articles in Elsevier’s journals through their ScienceDirect platform. UC scholars will still be able to use ScienceDirect to access most articles with a publish date before 2019 because UC has permanent access rights to them.

UC intends to continue negotiating in good faith. It is up to Elsevier to decide whether to continue to provide UC faculty and students with full access during the period of negotiations. Should access be reduced, the Library is prepared to assist in obtaining access to needed content through other means, such as interlibrary loan. Read more.

UC and Elsevier: FAQ

What’s happening?

  • As each of its multiyear contracts with large scholarly journal publishers comes to an end, UC is working to hold down the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals and to align our journal contracts with UC’s stance in support of open access.
  • To that end, UC is seeking a single, integrated contract with publishers that covers both the university’s subscriptions and open access publishing of UC research in their journals, making open access the default for any article with a UC corresponding author.

Why Elsevier? Why now?

  • UC was negotiating with Elsevier because UC’s previous multiyear contract with Elsevier was up for renewal. That contract expired Dec. 31, 2018.

How can I access Elsevier articles?

  • Quick guide: Alternative access to Elsevier articles.
  • UC scholars will still be able to use ScienceDirect to access most articles with a publish date before 2019 because UC has permanent access rights to them.
  • If Elsevier were to reduce access to subscribed content, access to articles published from 2019 forward, as well as a limited amount of historical content, would no longer be available directly on Elsevier’s ScienceDirect platform.
  • The UC Berkeley Library will work with researchers to get them the articles they need through other means. Learn more about access to Elsevier articles.

UC's Office of Scholarly Communication provides more information on the Elsevier negotiations, including an extensive FAQ.


Email us at scholarly-resources@lists.berkeley.edu.

Contact your UC Berkeley subject librarian.

UC’s stance on open access

As UC renegotiates its licenses with scholarly journal publishers such as Elsevier, we have an opportunity to align our journal licensing agreements with the university’s goal of advancing open access. As stated in UC’s Presidential Open Access Policy:

The University of California is committed to disseminating its research and scholarship as widely as possible … (and) recognizes the benefits that accrue to its authors as individual scholars and to the scholarly enterprise from such wide dissemination, including greater recognition, more thorough review, consideration, and critique, and a general increase in scientific, scholarly, and critical knowledge.

The Academic Senate affirms this commitment in its Open Access Policy:

As part of a public university system, the Faculty is dedicated to making its scholarship available to the people of California and the world.

The Council of Vice Chancellors (COVC) wrote a letter to the Chairs of the Council of University Librarians (CoUL) and the University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC) expressing support for the Elsevier negotiations in a Letter of Support. The UC Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC) also sent a Letter of Support to Provost Michael Brown.

What UC faculty are saying

  • “We all agree that open access is a good thing. It increases the visibility of our research, and it’s something the taxpayers deserve.” — Karen Bales, psychology professor at UC Davis and chair of the campus Academic Senate research committee, as quoted in the Los Angeles Times
  • “We are interested in using text-mining to learn from the scientific literature. OA articles can be more readily obtained, analyzed, and curated. Those which are part of traditional subscriptions cannot be readily studied in this way.” — Steven Brenner, a professor of plant & microbial biology at UC Berkeley, as quoted in The Daily Californian
  • “Every time a sensible person gets a simple explanation of the current system, the reaction is disbelief — that smart people have been doing this stupid thing for so long, and it’s been so, so expensive.” — Don Moore, professor at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, as quoted by the UC Berkeley Library
  • “Obviously we would prefer no disruption, but we have a network of colleagues and systems in place from which we can request articles. It’ll be an inconvenience, sure. But I think we understand the importance of what they’re trying to achieve.” — Stephen Floor, assistant professor, department of cell and tissue biology, UC San Francisco, as quoted in Inside Higher Ed

UC and Elsevier: In the news

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