On February 28, 2019, the UC Libraries chose not to renew journal subscriptions from the publisher Elsevier. Following many months of negotiations, Elsevier was ultimately unwilling to meet UC’s key goal of securing universal open access to UC research at a reasonable cost. The Academic Senate signaled its collective and resolute commitment to support UC’s negotiating position with Elsevier. UC joins Germany, Sweden, and Hungary in seeking transformative change in the way scholarly information is shared. The Norwegian government announced on March 12, 2019 that they have decided not to renew their agreement with Elsevier.
Following the UC announcement, UCSF faculty members Dyche Mullins, Ph.D. and Peter Walter, Ph.D. launched a petition titled “Boycott ELSEVIER and support affordable, open-access scholarly publishing.” As of March 11, 2019, over 500 people have signed the petition.
Mullins notes that the boycott is important because “paying subscription fees is only one of many ways that we support Elsevier. UC faculty members currently provide nearly 10% of the US contribution to their journals; and in 2017 alone Elsevier made $21 million dollars from selling access to our work. Refusing to provide content and free labor as reviewers and editors is the only way to break the strangle hold that the industry has on the academic enterprise.”
Walter adds: “Elsevier and other for-profit publishers have been locking up our (largely tax-payer funded) work behind pay walls for far too long. Their monopoly-based business model is unsustainable, and the sooner the academic community regains control the better. There are now many outstanding open-access venues that stand behind the true meaning of “publishing”, that is, “to make public”. Under these circumstances, why would anyone want to continue working for free for Elsevier shareholders?”
UCSF faculty member Rich Schneider, Ph.D., who is Chairing the University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication and serving on the negotiating team shared that, “Representing the UC faculty on the team negotiating with Elsevier over the past seven months has been a real privilege and an honor. While I am disappointed that Elsevier was unwilling to agree to the transformative terms that we were seeking, I remain deeply inspired by the outpouring of support for us walking away, and for the willingness of our UC faculty colleagues to take meaningful action to change the system of scholarly communication, as evidenced by this petition.”