Breaking Journal Access News: Outcome of UC Negotiations with Elsevier

Thursday, February 28, 2019

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 the Academic Senate’s 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.

While we do not know exactly when,Elsevier is expected to begin limiting UC’s access to new articles through its online platform, ScienceDirect, possibly very soon. This will mean some changes to how UC scholars access certain Elsevier journal articles.

What content will — and won’t — be affected 
If you use Elsevier articles in your research, here are the most important things to know: Most Elsevier articles published in 2018 or earlier will still be accessible via ScienceDirect. Because UC’s prior contracts included permanent access to previously published content, you will still be able to get immediate access to the full text of most articles via Elsevier’s ScienceDirect backfiles, just as you have in the past. Open access articles in Elsevier journals are also unaffected. Many authors choose to pay an open access fee (called an article processing charge, or APC) when they publish, so it’s always worth checking to see if the article you’re seeking is available open access from the journal’s website or elsewhere online (click here for tips on how to search for open access versions). Elsevier e-books and other products licensed by UC (e.g., Compendex, Reaxys) or by the UCSF Library (e.g., Embase) are covered under separate contracts and remain available as before. What is affected: At some point, Elsevier may begin to turn off UC’s direct access to articles with a 2019 publish date and the backfiles of certain journals (download list). However, open access versions of many of these articles are available; visit the UCSF Library alternative access webpage for advice on where to look. You can also submit a request and the Library will help you get a copy of the final published version of an article. 

If you are in doubt about why you can’t reach a particular article, please contact the Library.

Interested in updates?
For the latest information sign-up to receive email notifications here.

If you have any questions or need help accessing an article, please don’t hesitate to contact the Library.

Chris Shaffer, MS, AHIP
chris.shaffer@ucsf.edu
University Librarian
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Information Management
Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine

Dan Lowenstein
Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost

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