Academic Publication Rights Cause European Dispute : Stephen E. Arnold @ Beyond Search

“Being published is the bread and butter of intellectuals, especially academics. publication, in theory, is a way for information to be shared across the globe, but it also has become big business. In a recent Chemistry World article the standoff between Germany’s Project DEAL (a consortium comprised of German universities) and Dutch publisher, Elsevier, is examined along with possible fall-out from the end result.

At the heart of the dispute is who controls the publications. Currently, Elsevier holds the cards and has wielded their power to make a clear point on the matter. Project DEAL, though, is not going down without a fight and Chemistry World quotes Horst Hippler, a physical chemist and chief negotiator for Project DEAL, as saying,

In the course of digitisation, science communication is undergoing a fundamental transformation process. Comprehensive, free and – above all – sustainable access to scientific publications is of immense importance to our researchers. We therefore will actively pursue the transformation to open access, which is an important building block in the concept of open science. To this end, we want to create a fair and sustainable basis through appropriate licensing agreements with Elsevier and other scientific publishers.

As publications are moving farther from ink and paper and more to digital who owns the rights to the information is becoming murkier. It will be interesting to see how this battle plays out and if any more disgruntled academics jump on board.”

Presseinformationen – Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren

From Google’s English: “16 centers of the Helmholtz Association have terminated their license agreements with the scientific publishing house Elsevier at the end of 2017. With this decision the Elsevier contracts of all Helmholtz centers expire, whose contracts end on 31.12.2017. This means that the largest German research organization has now joined the more than one hundred scientific institutions that have terminated or extended their license agreements with Elsevier in order to strengthen the negotiating position of the DEAL project. Since 2016 representatives of the DEAL project on behalf of the alliance of the German scientific organizations with the publishing house Elsevier negotiate a nationwide licensing of magazines. The negotiations are very difficult, which is why the exit is now a clear sign….The President of the Helmholtz Association, Professor Dr. Otmar D. Wiestler, explains: “The Helmholtz Association will not conclude its own license agreements with Elsevier. We promote the changeover of the publication system to Open Access and therefore support the objectives of the DEAL project.” The most important goals [of the DEAL project] are: [1] All scientific institutions involved in the DEAL contract have full-time access to the full range of e-journals from Elsevier. [2] All publications by authors from German institutions are automatically submitted to Open Access (CC-BY, including peer review). [3] Appropriate pricing according to a simple, future-oriented calculation model that is oriented to the volume of publications….Dr. Martin Köhler, DESY’s director of the library and former negotiator for the Helmholtz contracts with Elsevier has no reservations about the literature supply: “The experiences of the” dropouts “at the beginning of the year showed that a contractless situation can be solved without problems. The Helmholtz libraries are well positioned and expect to be able to reliably provide the scientists with the necessary articles, even during longer lasting negotiations.”

The evidence fails to justify publishers’ demand for longer embargo periods on publicly-funded research.

“Due to disciplinary differences in the “half-life” or relative demand of a scholarly article, some publishers are looking to enact longer embargo periods before an article can be made openly available on archives and repositories, in order to protect against profit losses. Peter Suber finds there is insubstantial evidence to suggest embargo length affects profit margin. Furthermore, the premise that public policies should maximize publisher revenue before maximizing public access to publicly-funded research is unfounded and should equally be rejected. …”


“Open Access 2020 is an international initiative that aims to induce the swift, smooth and scholarly-oriented transformation of today’s scholarly journals from subscription to open access publishing.

The principles of this initiative were discussed and agreed upon at the Berlin 12 Conference on 8-9 December 2015 and are embodied in an Expression of Interest, which has already been endorsed by numerous international scholarly organizations.

The practical steps that can be taken towards the envisaged transformation are outlined in a Roadmap.

All parties involved in scholarly publishing – particularly universities, research institutions, funders, libraries, and publishers – are invited to collaborate through OA2020 for a swift and efficient transition of scholarly publishing to open access.

This important initiative is open to further institutional signatories. …”

Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts | The Scientist Magazine

“In Germany, the fight for open access and favorable pricing for journals is getting heated. At the end of last month (June 30), four major academic institutions in Berlin announced that they would not renew their subscriptions with the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier once they end this December. Then on July 7, nine universities in Baden-Württemberg, another large German state, also declared their intention to cancel their contracts with the publisher at the end of 2017.

These institutions join around 60 others across the country that allowed their contracts to expire last year.

The decision to cancel subscriptions was made in order to put pressure on Elsevier during ongoing negotiations. “Nobody wants Elsevier to starve—they should be paid fairly for their good service,” says Ursula Flitner, the head of the medical library at Charité–Berlin University of Medicine. “The problem is, we no longer see what their good service is.”

Charité–Berlin University of Medicine is joined by Humboldt University of Berlin, Free University of Berlin, and Technical University of Berlin in letting its Elsevier subscriptions lapse….”

Charité, FU, HU und TU kündigen ihre Elsevier-Verträge

From Google’s English: “Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, Since 2016, under the auspices of the President of the University Rectors’ Conference (HRK), Prof. Dr. Horst Hippler, with Elsevier over a nationwide License to use the publisher’s magazines. Objective of the negotiations Of the DEAL project, the magazine portfolios of the publishers Elsevier, Springer / Nature and Wiley from a subscription-based licensing to a publication-based financing To be transferred. A fair price model for the provision of the open- Access-based journals and counteracted the previous price spiral become. Regrettably, Elsevier has so far shown little negotiation. Therefore, have Numerous scientific institutions and universities signed their contracts with Elsevier Terminated or not extended, to the DEAL negotiations the necessary emphasis to lend. More than 70 scientific institutions have grown into this step in 2016 determined. In the coming weeks, more than 100 more Research institutes and universities….”

[Cancelling Elsevier journals had no impact at my university]

“In my instution [U of Bielefeld] we couldn´t afford more than 64 out of about 2,500 Elsevier journal [titles] in the end. The cancellation last year has no impact in our university, because since many years we as a library were not able to fulfill our task to provide academic content under the conditions of the subscription system anyway. Therefore we support OA2020 and therefore I´m looking forward to spend the Elsevier money that we save this year e.g. for open access publications in real open access journals. If Elsevier doesn´t want to change the business model for journals it is ok for us, there are enough alternatives to support the publication output of our university….”

No deal, no review – #nodealnoreview

“Since November 2016, more than 2700 members of the academic community in Finland have signed online petition which called for fair pricing for academic journal subscriptions and increased open access in the ongoing negotiation with international publishers. More than two thirds of those who signed the petition were prepared to abstain from editorial and reviewer duties in journals whose publishers are unwilling to meet the demands of the Finnish negotiators. It’s time to stand by that commitment: no deal, no editing and reviews.”

International Survey of Research University Leadership: Views on Supporting Open Access Scholarly & Educational Materials

“This report looks closely at the attitudes on open access of a sample of 314 deans, chancellors, department chairmen, research institute directors, provosts, trustees, vice presidents and other upper level administrators from more than 50 research universities in the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland and Australia.  The report gives detailed information on what they think of the cost of academic journal subscriptions, and how they understand the meaning of the term “open access.”  The study also gives highly detailed data on what kind of policies the research university elite support or might support in the area of open access, including policies such as restricting purchases of very high-priced journals, paying publication fees for open access publications, mandating deposit of university scholarship into digital repositories, and developing open access educational materials from university resources. 

Just a few of the report’s many findings are that:

  • The lowest percentage considering the high cost of journals a big problem was in the United States, where only 11.56% of higher education leadership had this opinion; the highest share, in Canada, 27.45% had this view.
  • More than 40% of administrators from public universities in the sample supported the idea of using university funds to develop open access textbooks from materials developed or owned by the university or its scholars.
  • Support for mandatory deposit requirements for scholarly output into university digital repositories was highest among the universities ranked in the top 41 worldwide.

Data in the report is broken out by country, university ranking, work title, field of work responsibility, level of compensations, age, gender and other variables.”