February 28, 2019
I am writing to share the outcome of the University of California’s negotiations to renew its systemwide license with the scholarly journal publisher Elsevier. Elsevier was ultimately unwilling to meet UC’s key goals: securing universal open access to UC research and integrating open access article processing charges (APCs) and subscription fees into a single cost-controlled contract. As a result, UC will not be signing a new contract with Elsevier at this time.
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.
The negotiation goals were developed in light of UC’s faculty-driven principles on scholarly communication and with the endorsement of the Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee. This week, the Academic Senate expressed its commitment to support UC’s negotiating position with Elsevier.
We do not know when Elsevier will cut off direct access to articles through the ScienceDirect platform, but it could be at any time. When they do, this will mean some changes to how we access current Elsevier journal articles.
Here are the most important things to know:
- The UC will still have direct access to most Elsevier articles published in 2018 or earlier. Because the UC’s prior contracts included permanent access to our subscribed content, you will still be able to get immediate access to most articles via Elsevier’s ScienceDirect just as you have in the past. (Titles with permanent access; titles without permanent access.)
- The UCSB Library will help researchers get the articles they need. Our Interlibrary loan office is prepared for increased demand, and offers the option of expedited document delivery for Elsevier articles. ILL staff will obtain the final, published version of an article for you and email it to you, within hours to a day, at no charge.
- We have prepared a quick guide to alternative access which provides an overview of the options available to UC researchers.
- E-books, databases, and open access content published by Elsevier are not affected.
During the coming months the UC Libraries will closely monitor alternative access and the impact of the interruption in access but we will not be immediately re-subscribing to individual titles. The decision to take that step, and its timing, will be coordinated with the Council of University Librarians. The current status of negotiations and access can always be found on the Office of Scholarly Communication’s UC and Elsevier webpage.
I have appreciated very much the conversations I’ve had so far with faculty about this situation, and am always interested to talk with you if you would like to share your thoughts.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me, Eunice Schroeder (Head, Collection Development), or your librarian at any time.
Kristin Antelman, University Librarian