From Google’s English: “The goal of the DEAL project is to conclude nationwide license agreements for the entire portfolio of electronic journals (e-journals) of major science publishers from the 2017 license year. It seeks a significant change from the current status quo in negotiation, content and pricing . The effects of a consortium agreement at federal level are intended to provide financial relief to individual institutions and to improve access to scientific literature for science on a broad and sustainable level. At the same time, an open access component is to be implemented….”
“Efforts to reach a deal between the publishing giant and 200 institutions protesting prices continue after January deadline passes German universities and research institutes that cancelled their subscriptions to Elsevier journals in a protest over pricing still have access to them. This is despite a breakdown in talks last month. A consortium of German institutions, Project Deal, has been trying to negotiate a nationwide deal for the entire portfolio of electronic journals from the Dutch publishing giant since 2016. The consortium, which includes the country’s National Academy of Sciences, the Fraunhofer Society and the German Research Foundation, wants all papers authored by the country’s researchers to be open access in Germany and pricing that ensures costs are only incurred at publication. This would mean that corresponding authors could make papers freely available without paying any more. It’s understood that if these demands were met the amount that these institutions pay to Elsevier would be halved….”
“Our professors do the research. They write the papers and proofread them. They even do the peer review. Then they sign the copyright over to publishers, who don’t pay them a dime—they’re paid by grants and salary, our taxes, and tuition.
Harvard then pays again for the journals—many of them over $10,000 each—and most of us feel personally the bite each term when we buy our sourcebooks. Many of these cost upwards of $100 not because they’re on paper rather than online (printing costs pennies a page), but because of the fees charged by publishers like Elsevier (1,387 journals ranging across academia) and Wiley (348 journals), some higher than $1 per page.
That’s three ways we pay for the same research, writing, proofreading, and peer review. Even Harvard has found the cost too high, and has cut down on its subscriptions. …
Students can make several big contributions to this movement. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents in support of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a bipartisan bill to make taxpayer-funded published research—most scientific work in the U.S.—freely available. Students can explain to their professors why they should publish in open access journals when available, and better yet why the University should establish a freely-available repository for all Harvard researchers’ work. Best of all, seniors can set an example now by making their theses available to the world at www.hcs.harvard.edu/thesis. Each of us can show politicians, faculty members, and present and future colleagues that we value open access to academic research. It’s up to us to say it: Knowledge is for everyone. …”
“SPARC has started a list of big-deal cancellations.
It’s a great idea. If the list doesn’t include any big-deal cancellations at your institution, let SPARC know. See the update buttons at the bottom of the page.
At launch time the list didn’t include Harvard’s 2003 cancellation of the Elsevier big deal, and I just sent SPARC some relevant links. As long as I’m doing that, I thought I’d blog them here as well. After the official announcement by Sidney Verba, I list the pieces in chronological order:
“A Letter from Sidney Verba,” (then Harvard’s University Librarian), Harvard University Library, December 9, 2003.
“Harvard is Pursuing its Own Elsevier Deal,” Library Journal, October 21, 2003.
Jeffrey C. Aguero, “Libraries to Cut Academic Journals,” Harvard Crimson, November 23, 2003.
“Libraries take a stand: Journals present rising costs to libraries – and to scholarship,” Harvard Gazette, February 5, 2004.
“The University Library is currently in negotiations with its largest supplier of academic journals, publishing magnate Reed Elsevier, hoping to secure a less restrictive contract.
Currently, Harvard and Reed Elsevier have a three-year contact, covering almost 800 journals, which is set to expire at the end of this year. According to library officials, the contract is very limiting in regards to changing and canceling subscriptions to certain journals….“They make it difficult to cancel and we get locked into buying. We want to sign a shorter term contract with more flexibility,” said [Sidney] Verba [University Librarian]….”
“In a move that reflects the extent of academic librarians’ concerns with the inflexibility of so-called “big deal” e-journal packages, Harvard University likely will not sign a multi-year contract to renew access to Elsevier’s journals. Harvard University Library Director Sidney Verba said, “We haven’t finished negotiating, but in all likelihood we will not be signing the renewal offer through NERL, in the way in which they have put it forward.” NERL, the Northeast Research Library consortium, includes 21 research libraries, Harvard among them. Verba said the sticking points were the inflexible “bundling” of journals in the previous contract and the inability to cancel journal titles without incurring heavy penalties. In “big deal” packages, libraries are contractually locked in to subscriptions for extended periods, regardless of usage and changing budget situations, in exchange for deep discounts and caps on inflation. “The main point is the ability of libraries to control their own collections,” explained Verba, “to cancel what they want to cancel, to have the option of attrition, especially in times of real financial stress, like now. The Elsevier contract does not really allow that.” Harvard spends six percent of its materials budget on Elsevier–about four times more than on its second highest collection expense….”
“Students and faculty logging onto the HOLLIS catalog after winter break found a decrease in the number of periodicals available from Elsevier, one of the world’s largest publishers of scientific journals. According to Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and director of the University Library, the decision to eliminate these journals was the result of 15 months of careful consideration. “It was driven not only by current financial realities,” Verba states, “but also – and perhaps more importantly – by the need to reassert control over our collections and to encourage new models for research publication at Harvard.” Similar steps have been taken at other major research institutions, including Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and the Triangle Research Libraries Network….”
“As of January 1, the University is eliminating a number of journals published by Elsevier. Some of these titles were duplicate print subscriptions. Other titles were shown to have been underused over time. Harvard libraries will fulfill requests for articles from these journals through interlibrary loan and third-party document delivery services.
The decision to eliminate these journals was the result of careful consideration over the last 15 months. It was driven not only by current financial realities, but also—and perhaps more importantly—by the need to reassert control over our collections and to encourage new models for research publication at Harvard….”
“Large publishers have marketed bundles of journals at a discount off of aggregated list price since the late 1990’s. The value proposition for publishers is a guaranteed revenue stream at a high overall dollar value. The perceived benefit for the institutions has been access to a large volume of journal titles, at a lower per-title price than ala carte purchasing would afford. Over time, however, the actual value of these “big deals” has grown less clear. Publishers have often raised the price of the packages by 5-15%, far outpacing library budgets. This has been justified, in part, by the addition of a growing number of specialized journal titles, launched in quick succession. Libraries have found a growing chunk of their budgets allocated to servicing these big deals, as well as their ability to curate resources and build collections most appropriate for their communities severely hampered.
What was once a no-fuss way to get a significant collection of journals at a discount off of list price has devolved into a restrictive agreement that limits financial and strategic flexibility. The “big deal” has often been compared to a cable or satellite TV package, an apt analogy insofar as the customer cannot choose to pass on content that is of no interest, with initial price breaks quickly giving way to locked-in increases. Much like the millions of consumers who have chosen to “cut the cord”, a growing number of libraries are electing to critically appraise these big deals by assessing their collections, the value for money they are receiving from these packages, and how they might more strategically spend their finite collections resources….”