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Elsevier journal negotiations

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UC strikes landmark open access deal with Elsevier

TO: The UC Berkeley academic community
FROM: Paul Alivisatos, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Jeff MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Professor
Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, Chair, Academic Senate, Berkeley Division
Thomas Dandelet, Chair, Academic Senate Library Committee

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The University of California has struck a deal with Elsevier, the largest academic publisher in the world — a landmark victory for the university and for open access publishing.

The transformative agreement comes after a much-publicized split between UC and the publishing giant, and more than two years of negotiations. The deal is the culmination of UC faculty members, librarians, and leaders coming together and standing strong in our efforts to make UC research freely available to everyone, and to transform scholarly publishing for the better.

The four-year agreement — going into effect on April 1, 2021 — restores UC’s direct online access to Elsevier journals and doubles the number of articles covered by UC’s open access agreements.

The outcome aligns with the university’s goals of making UC research freely available for all and containing the excessive costs that come with licensing journals. These goals support UC as a responsible steward of public funds and as a public university that strives to make knowledge available for everyone.

UC to restart negotiations with Elsevier

July 28, 2020

Following a series of informal meetings with Elsevier this spring and summer that suggest there may be new potential for progress, UC’s publisher negotiations team is restarting formal negotiations with Elsevier. UC remains committed to its goal of reaching an agreement that provides for open access publishing of UC-authored articles and restores UC’s access to Elsevier journal content, at a reasonable cost. The negotiations will commence by the end of the summer.

Open letter: Update on UC’s open access negotiations with Elsevier and others

TO: The UC Berkeley academic community
FROM: Jeff MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Professor
Oliver O'Reilly, Chair, Academic Senate, Berkeley Division
C. D. Blanton, Chair, Academic Senate Library Committee

January 23, 2020

As 2020 begins, the University of California — with strong leadership from Berkeley — is making notable progress in advancing open access to UC research in partnership with a diverse range of publishers:

  • Elsevier negotiations: UC and Elsevier have remained in informal conversations since negotiations stalled last year. The parties are planning a meeting early this semester to explore reopening negotiations.
  • Access to Elsevier articles: Berkeley researchers are strongly encouraged to participate in a short 3-minute poll to help us gauge the impact of the loss of immediate access and to improve our support for researchers seeking Elsevier articles. In the meantime, learn more about how the Library can help.
  • Wiley and Springer Nature: UC is in cordial negotiations with Wiley and Springer Nature to reach transformative agreements that include open access publishing of UC research. 
  • JMIR and ACM: Building on the university’s commitment to find ways to work with publishers of all types and sizes, UC has reached agreements with native open access publisher JMIR (Journal of Medical Internet Research) and society publisher ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) to provide financial support for researchers who choose to publish open access. 

Read more about these updates.

Open letter: Elsevier access suspended

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

July 10, 2019

The University of California has been out of contract with Elsevier since January, but until now the publisher continued to allow access to 2019 articles via its web platform, ScienceDirect. As of today, July 10, UC’s direct access to new Elsevier articles has been discontinued.

What is affected: Members of the UC community no longer have direct access to:

  • 2019 articles in all Elsevier journals
  • Older articles in certain journals (download the list)

What is not affected: Articles published before 2019 in most Elsevier journals (covering about 95% of historical usage) should continue to be available via ScienceDirect. 

Please note that the process for discontinuing access is complex, so access to specific journals or articles may fluctuate until Elsevier’s rollout of these changes is complete. 

The systemwide faculty Senate has encouraged stakeholders across UC to use alternative access methods or contact their campus library for assistance in obtaining articles, and to refrain from any new independent subscriptions to Elsevier journals at this time. “By ‘holding the line,’” the Senate leadership writes, “the UC can help change the system of scholarly communication for the betterment of all.” 

Read more.

Open letter: Imminent change to Elsevier access

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: Imminent change to Elsevier access

June 26, 2019

The University of California has been out of contract with Elsevier since January but, so far, the publisher has continued to provide access to new articles via ScienceDirect. Although Elsevier has not yet provided us with official notification, we now have reason to believe that the publisher will shut off that direct access in the first half of July, after the July 4 holiday.

When that happens, we will no longer have direct access to 2019 articles (in all Elsevier journals) and the backfiles of certain journals (download the list). Everything else will still be accessible on ScienceDirect. Once the shutoff is confirmed, we will publish a notice on the Library’s website. Read more.

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.


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