Following UC’s break with Elsevier, messages of support from around the world pour in

Nobel Prize-winning UC Berkeley professor Randy Schekman speaks about the importance of open access in September 2018.

On Thursday, the University of California announced its separation with Elsevier, one of the world’s largest — and most profitable — publishers of academic research.

After months of negotiations, the publisher had refused to meet UC’s core demands: universal open access to UC research and a subscription plan that would account for open access publishing fees. So UC walked away.

In the days since, messages of support and congratulations have come pouring in from around the world. Here is a sample of the responses, by turns fiery, joyous, and heartwarming.

“With much admiration to UC for taking this brave stance. I hope and trust that other major and perhaps better-heeled research libraries — looking at you, Harvard and Yale — will follow in your footsteps. I cannot tell you how much this news lifted my spirits today. Bravo, and thank you!”

— David C. Murray, the humanities librarian at the College of New Jersey

“I’m so glad that your team has drawn these lines in the sand with Elsevier and stuck to them. Having been involved in 2001 in a process in which an editorial board resigned en masse from a Kluwer journal and set up its own journal (JMLR), a journal which quickly and sustainably became a top-tier journal in computer science, I am dismayed that it is now twenty years later and we are still beholden to the Elseviers. Maybe this act of yours is the beginning of the end.”

— Michael I. Jordan, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and statistics at UC Berkeley

“This is such an exciting moment for open access. The UC system’s refusal to pay the exorbitant fees for an Elsevier subscription represents a pivotal point to change the culture of academic publishing — one that individual academics cannot accomplish alone. With this decision, the UCs now join the ranks of Germany and Sweden to stand against Elsevier in pursuit of greater openness of our science and academic work.”

— Stacy Shaw, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology at UCLA

“This is a bold move that University of California took. But a necessary one! With sufficient global alignment through initiatives like OA2020 and Plan S, we are moving towards the tipping point and (will) be able to transform scholar publishing for the better.”

— Marc Schiltz, the president of Science Europe

“I hope that you will be able to convey my gratitude to President Napolitano and the UC faculty leadership and negotiating teams related to the Elsevier contract and open access publishing.

The important, and I would say courageous, actions taken by the UC will have a ripple effect across the planet and improve research and communication of research findings for the rest of time.”

— Joseph E. Kerschner, dean of the School of Medicine at Medical College of Wisconsin

“I was so proud to see UC taking a bold and courageous stand to disrupt the academic publishing world. There are risks involved (as you undoubtedly appreciate), but someone had to take this on.”

— Peter Menell, a professor in the UC Berkeley School of Law and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology

“As a long-time supporter of open science, I am thrilled to see the University of California standing up to Elsevier.”

— Mark Warschauer, a professor of education at UC Irvine

“I just wanted to tell you again how proud I am that the UC stood up to Elsevier, those money-grubbing parasites. I’ve long been thrilled about being at UCI because of the difference we make in students’ lives. … Now I have a new reason to brag about the UC. By standing up to Elsevier, we are doing something real to change this terrible system of profit-driven academic publishing for the better. … I am so glad — just bursting with happiness and pride — that we are using our collective weight and influence to disrupt this insane system where universities subsidize giant, massively profitable corporations.

Thank you, thank you, congratulations and bravo!”

— Barbara W. Sarnecka, a professor of cognitive sciences at UC Irvine

“The united front, from the president’s office to line faculty and librarians, is what makes this outcome so impressive. One can only imagine the blood, sweat, and tears all of you have devoted to these negotiations over the past months. … When UC joint governance works this well, it is truly something to be celebrated! I’m proud to be part of this community.”

— Christine Borgman, a professor of information studies at UCLA

“Congratulations on this bold and essential action — thank you and your colleagues for this spectacular leadership! I hope faculty will support your action by declining to review for, or submit their own work to, Elsevier journals, as some did during the old boycott.”

— Keith R. Yamamoto, the vice chancellor for science policy and strategy at UCSF

“I applaud UC for their efforts to shift to the market open access. As a high school science teacher I am often frustrated by the financial blocks to accessing research articles that would extend my knowledge and the learning experiences I strive for in my classes. Open access will open the doors to deeper learning opportunities at the high school level and thereby enrich our efforts for college preparedness.”

— Greg Panzanaro, a high school science teacher in upstate New York

“All I have to say is GREAT WORK. Thank you so much for sticking to your guns and helping us change the culture of publishing.”

— Thomas Turner, an evolutionary biologist at UC Santa Barbara

“I was dancing around my office yesterday I was so excited about the news and wanted to reach out. Please pass on the word that everyone I know at Gates is very happy and supportive of this move to ensure open access to publicly funded research.”

— Ashley Farley, the open access associate officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

“Thanks for making a stand. I like publishing articles that all can read, and not behind a paywall.”

— Keith Denkler, a clinical professor of plastic surgery at UCSF

“I’m just a California resident. No connection to the university system. Just wanted to say that I support what UC did. The scientific publication system needs to change. Excessive profits based on unpaid reviewers and publication fees that then prevent access by the public or many researchers to underlying content (the research) that is publicly funded in the first place is nuts. Thanks for standing up for UC and the general interest.”

— Steven Chanin, a California resident

“Brava! It's about time someone with clout challenged the commercial scientific journal publishers who have been profiteering from the scientific community and the governmental and industrial sponsors of the research that is their bread and butter, as well as the university library systems that are being fleeced.”

— Robert Salomon, a professor of chemistry and ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University

“Fiat lux.”

— Charles Bazerman, a professor of education at UC Santa Barbara