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On March 16, the University of California announced a transformative open access agreement with Elsevier, the world’s largest academic publisher. This successful outcome is the result of UC’s faculty, librarians, and university leadership coming together to stand firm on our goals.

The new four-year agreement will go into effect on April 1, 2021, restoring UC’s direct online access to Elsevier journals while meeting the university’s two goals: enabling universal open access to all UC research and containing costs.

These goals directly support UC’s mission as a public university to make its research freely available and fulfill its responsibility as a steward of public funds. The agreement with Elsevier will double the number of articles covered by current UC open access agreements.

For specific title details, please see the complete list of titles included in the agreement.

What the agreement means for the UC community:

  • Reading access: Effective April 1, UC will regain access to articles published in the Elsevier journals the libraries previously subscribed to, including issues published while we were without an agreement, and will add additional journals to which UC previously did not subscribe. Alternative access options will remain available for a small number of Society journals not included in the reading and open access parts of the agreement.

  • Open access publishing in Elsevier journals: The agreement will also provide for open access publishing of UC research in more than 2,500 Elsevier journals from day one. The Cell Press and Lancet journals will be integrated midway through the four-year agreement; UC’s agreement is the first in the world to provide for open access publishing in the entire suite of these prestigious journals.

  • Author eligibility: The open access publishing agreement applies to corresponding authors who are UC affiliates (e.g., faculty, researchers, clinicians, staff, graduate students) publishing in an Elsevier journal.

  • Library support for open access publishing: All articles with a UC corresponding author will be open access by default (with the option to opt-out). The Library will automatically pay the first $1,000 of the open access fee, also known as an article publishing charge or APC. Authors will be asked to pay the remainder of the APC if they have research funds available to do so.

  • Full funding support for those who need it: The Library will cover the full amount of the APC for those who do not have research funds for the author's share.

  • Discounts on publishing: UC has negotiated a 15% discount on the APCs for Elsevier journals, 10% for Cell Press and Lancet journals. All discounts apply immediately from the start of the agreement.

  • Author’s choice: Authors may opt out of open access publishing if they wish; in most cases, this will transfer the copyright for the article to Elsevier instead of the author retaining copyright.

The economics of the deal

As with UC’s other recent open access agreements, the Elsevier agreement integrates library and author payments into a single, cost-controlled contract. This shared funding model enables the campus libraries to reallocate a portion of our journals budget to help subsidize APCs, a subvention designed to make it easier for authors to choose to publish open access. 

Research funds play a critical role in the sustainability of this funding model. In UC’s other open access agreements we are seeing a significant proportion of authors paying their share of the APC. If this promising trend continues, UC can blaze a path to full open access across ever more publishers.

Partnering with publishers of all types and sizes

UC continues to forge partnerships with publishers of all types and sizes. In addition to Elsevier, this month we signed open access agreements with three not-for-profit and society publishers — The Company of Biologists, The Royal Society and Canadian Science Publishing. Prior agreements cover open access publishing in Springer Nature, Cambridge University Press, ACM, and native open access publishers PLOS and JMIR.

Ultimately, UC’s goal is to make it possible for all authors to publish their work open access in whatever journal they choose — thus providing broad public access to the fruits of UC’s research. With this Elsevier deal, we have made a tremendous stride in that direction. We know that this has been a lengthy process with significant inconvenience to you and your students. We appreciate your patience and support as we worked to reach this successful outcome.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Library’s Scholarly Communication support team at openaccess@library.ucsb.edu.