“Each year, the universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation spend around fifteen million euros to subscribe to scientific publications. Their contract with Elsevier, one of the world’s heavyweights in the sector, which gives them access to more than 2,000 scientific journals, ends on December 31. This is an opportunity to put things back on track. A group of university experts was therefore mandated by Cref (the Council of Rectors of French-speaking universities) and BICfB (the Interuniversity Library of the French Community of Belgium) to negotiate the follow-up. According to our information, the discussions promise to be long….”
“The global push to make the scholarly literature open access continued in 2019. Some publishers and libraries forged new licensing deals, while in other cases contract negotiations came to halt, and a radical open access plan made some adjustments. Here are some of the most notable developments in the publishing world in 2019:…”
“To promote a publishing ecosystem where the impact of research can be maximized by removing readership barriers, the UC Berkeley Library is making many efforts to push for open access publishing, including signing the OA2020 Expression of Interest and terminating our Elsevier journal subscriptions. But what are our faculty’s opinions on these issues? The Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey gave us an opportunity to take the temperature of Berkeley faculty’s attitudes on open access.
Do Berkeley faculty support open access? The short answer is yes….”
“Last summer, dozens of academic institutions in Sweden let their Elsevier subscriptions lapse, forgoing permission to read new content in the scholarly publisher’s journals. Like other groups in Europe and the US, they were pushing for increased open access and contained costs—and had reached a deadlock in negotiations with the publisher. On Friday (November 22), the two sides announced that they had finally come to an agreement, establishing a so-called transformative deal that includes access to paywalled articles and open-accessing publishing into one fee….”
[Quoting] Wilhelm Widmark, the library director at Stockholm University and a member of the steering committee for the Bibsam consortium, which negotiates on behalf of more than 80 Swedish institutions. “I think Elsevier has become more flexible during the last couple of months.”
Just a day before the Swedish deal was made public, Elsevier and Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania announced a similar deal. These are the latest of several agreements Elsevier has forged to pilot open-access elements since the beginning of 2019. Earlier this year, for example, Hungary and Norway—both countries that had cancelled their subscriptions with the publisher after stagnant negotiations—also announced new contracts with the publisher….
As Elsevier is successfully forging deals on both sides of the Atlantic, there are still two major academic groups missing from these announcements: the University of California (UC) system, which includes 10 campuses, and Project DEAL, which represents around 700 academic institutions in Germany….”
“The impact of the University of California system’s decision in February to walk away from negotiations with Elsevier over journal subscriptions has rippled out to Pittsburgh, where Carnegie Mellon University’s libraries have struck a deal with the company that marks a significant stride in open-access publishing.
Under the agreement, Carnegie Mellon researchers will be able to read all Elsevier academic journals and, next year, can publish their articles in front of a paywall without having to pay an extra fee. The company and the university on Thursday said it was the first contract of its kind between Elsevier and an American university….
Webster surmised that the company wanted to make something work with Carnegie Mellon after UC canceled its subscription. “Elsevier probably couldn’t afford many more hits of licenses being canceled.”…
A spokeswoman for Elsevier did not respond to specific questions from The Chronicle or make representatives available for comment….”
Abstract: Download rates of academic journals have joined citation counts as commonly used indicators of the value of journal subscriptions. While citations reflect worldwide influence, the value of a journal subscription to a single library is more reliably measured by the rate at which it is downloaded by local users. If reported download rates accurately measure local usage, there is a strong case for using them to compare the cost-effectiveness of journal subscriptions. We examine data for nearly 8,000 journals downloaded at the ten universities in the University of California system during a period of six years. We find that controlling for number of articles, publisher, and year of download, the ratio of downloads to citations differs substantially among academic disciplines. After adding academic disciplines to the control variables, there remain substantial “publisher effects”, with some publishers reporting significantly more downloads than would be predicted by the characteristics of their journals. These cross-publisher differences suggest that the currently available download statistics, which are supplied by publishers, are not sufficiently reliable to allow libraries to make subscription decisions based on price and reported downloads, at least without making an adjustment for publisher effects in download reports.
“Negotiations between Elsevier and the University of California system over open access and pricing seem to have reached a stalemate, and the UC no longer has the Elsevier Big Deal. Currently, no UC campus subscribes to any Elsevier journals. If the UC chooses not to reenter the Big Deal, the UC campus libraries will probably find it worthwhile to subscribe to some Elsevier journals. Which ones should they choose?
A UCSB student, Zhiyao Ma, and I are developing a little tool that we hope will help UC librarians in making cost-effective selections of Elsevier journals for subscription. The UC has download statistics for each Elsevier journal at each of its campuses. Elsevier posts a la carte subscription prices for each of its journals. Our tool allows one to select a cost per download threshold and obtain a list of journals that meet this criterion, along with their total cost. It also allows for separate thresholds to be used for different disciplines. You can check out the current version at https://yaoma.shinyapps.io/Elsevier-Project/
Since this project is still under way, we would be interested in any suggestions from librarians about how to make this tool more broadly useful. Extending this tool to make comparisons among journals from multiple publishers is an obvious step. However, we are dubious about the value of download statistics for cross-publisher comparisons. There is evidence that download counts substantially overstate usage, because of repeated downloads of the same article by the same users, and that the amount of double-counting varies systematically by publisher. This is discussed in a couple of papers of which I am a coauthor.
“Looking under the Counter for Overcounted Downloads” (with Kristin Antelman and Richard Uhrig)
“Do Download counts reliably measure journal usage: Trusting the fox to count your hens”. (with Alex Wood-Doughty and Doug Steigerwald)
Instead of using download data, we could construct a similar calculator using price per recent citation as a measure of cost-effectiveness. We have found that the ratio of downloads to citations differ significantly between disciplines. So it is probably appropriate for cost per citation thresholds to differ among disciplines….”
“When news broke early in 2019 that the University of California had walked away from licensing negotiations with the world’s largest scholarly publisher (Elsevier), a wave of triumphalism spread through the OA Twittersphere.
The talks had collapsed because of Elsevier’s failure to offer UC what it demanded: a new-style Big Deal in which the university got access to all of Elsevier’s paywalled content plus OA publishing rights for all UC authors – what UC refers to as a “Read and Publish” agreement. In addition, UC wanted Elsevier to provide this at a reduced cost. Given its size and influence, UC’s decision was hailed as “a shot heard around the academic world”.
The news had added piquancy coming as it did in the wake of a radical new European OA initiative called Plan S. Proposed in 2018 by a group of European funders calling themselves cOAlition S, the aim of Plan S is to make all publicly funded research open access by 2021.
Buoyed up by these two developments open access advocates concluded that – 17 years after the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) – the goal of universal (or near-universal) open access is finally within reach. Or as the Berkeley librarian who led the UC negotiations put it, “a tipping point” has been reached. But could defeat be snatched from the jaws of success?
For my take on this topic please download the attached pdf. …”
“The room with the negotiating table isn’t the most pleasant room to be a part of.
But when hundreds of thousands of students are denied access to valuable research, there’s no other place negotiators should be.
It has been almost four months since the University of California’s California Digital Library lost direct access to Elsevier’s journals. Elsevier is one of the largest scientific publishers in the world, owning over 2,500 research journals that UC students and researchers were once able to access. The last agreement between the two parties, which valued at about $10.5 million, ended in December.
Negotiations for a new deal continued into the new year, but firmly broke off at the end of February over differing opinions on both sides about costs and access.
The CDL wanted to lower subscription costs and publish its research with open access to the public, while Elsevier wanted to charge publishing fees to UC authors on top of the monumental subscription cost – a cost that has seen incremental increases since 2014.
At the core of this standoff are two parties bickering with each other on the basis of unfeasible demands. Meanwhile, students will be the ones paying the price….”
“First and foremost, I want to be very clear: Elsevier fully supports open access….
In fact, my professional background is in applying technology to content to help professionals make better decisions. For example, working in the part of RELX that serves legal professionals, I’ve seen the powerful benefits of analytical services that are built on top of freely available content, such as case law. This is why I’m excited by the potential to create value for researchers by applying text-mining and artificial intelligence technologies to the entire corpus of peer-reviewed content. I understand and appreciate the role that open access can play in delivering that vision.
The question is not whether open access is desirable or beneficial — the question is how we get there. My takeaway from my discussions on the topic is that there are many points of view. Publishers are often blamed for not making enough progress, which I think is fair. But it would also be unfair not to recognize the lack of alignment within our communities about the best way forward, which is understandable as this is a multi-dimensional issue that requires substantial problem-solving and action to make progress.
I am a pragmatist, and I commit to working pragmatically with libraries and other stakeholders to achieve shared open access goals. Part of this means acknowledging obstacles where they exist and discussing them openly and objectively so that we can find solutions to overcome them. If we don’t, progress will continue to be slow. I feel optimistic given the extent of commitment to make progress. In that spirit, please allow me to share t some of the obstacles that I have learned about in the last nine months….”