Cancelling with the world’s largest scholarly publisher: lessons from the Swedish experience of having no access to Elsevier

Abstract:  This article covers the consequences of the decision of the Bibsam consortium to cancel its journal licence agreement with Elsevier, the world’s largest scholarly publisher, in 2018. First, we report on how the cancellation affected Swedish researchers. Second, we describe other consequences of the cancellation. Finally, we report on lessons for the future. In short, there was no consensus among researchers on how the cancellation affected them or whether the cancellation was positive or negative for them. Just over half (54%) of the 4,221 researchers who responded to a survey indicated that the cancellation had harmed their work, whereas 37% indicated that it had not. Almost half (48%) of the researchers had a negative view of the cancellation, whereas 38% had a positive view. The cancellation highlighted the ongoing work at research libraries to facilitate the transition to an open access publishing system to more stakeholders in academia than before. It also showed that Swedish vice-chancellors were prepared to suspend subscriptions with a publisher that could not accommodate the needs and requirements of open science. Finally, the cancellation resulted in the signing of a transformative agreement which started on 1 January 2020. If it had not been for the cancellation, the reaching of such an agreement would have been unlikely.

 

Cancelling with the world’s largest scholarly publisher: lessons from the Swedish experience of having no access to Elsevier

Abstract:  This article covers the consequences of the decision of the Bibsam consortium to cancel its journal licence agreement with Elsevier, the world’s largest scholarly publisher, in 2018. First, we report on how the cancellation affected Swedish researchers. Second, we describe other consequences of the cancellation. Finally, we report on lessons for the future. In short, there was no consensus among researchers on how the cancellation affected them or whether the cancellation was positive or negative for them. Just over half (54%) of the 4,221 researchers who responded to a survey indicated that the cancellation had harmed their work, whereas 37% indicated that it had not. Almost half (48%) of the researchers had a negative view of the cancellation, whereas 38% had a positive view. The cancellation highlighted the ongoing work at research libraries to facilitate the transition to an open access publishing system to more stakeholders in academia than before. It also showed that Swedish vice-chancellors were prepared to suspend subscriptions with a publisher that could not accommodate the needs and requirements of open science. Finally, the cancellation resulted in the signing of a transformative agreement which started on 1 January 2020. If it had not been for the cancellation, the reaching of such an agreement would have been unlikely.

 

Costs Outstrip Library Budgets | Periodicals Price Survey 2020 | Library Journal

“Higher education continues to grapple with an uncertain future of flat or declining student enrollment and mounting financial pressures. Library budgets are for the most part flat or diminishing leaving libraries to yet again battle the terrible twins of cost inflation and revenue stagnation. Many libraries are cutting continuing expenditures by cancelling or breaking up journal packages and buying only those titles for which use or demand justifies the price. Others are aggressively renegotiating contracts with publishers to reduce ongoing costs.

Still others are turning to Open Access (OA) to freely distribute research outputs to all. But while it shifts the cost from readers’ institutions to researchers’, OA is not free. Of the multiple OA models that have taken root, none offer a solution for content costs that outpace library budget increases….”

To Bundle or Not to Bundle? That Is the Question – The Scholarly Kitchen

“In recent years, many universities have concluded that the price they pay for their Big Deal journal license agreements and the resulting value they perceive have become misaligned. As a consequence, academia has stiffened its negotiating posture with leading journal publishers. The outcome of these negotiations can be grouped into two categories: rebundling and unbundling. Most attention in recent years has been given over to the search for open access, by transforming Big Deal subscriptions into rebundled transformative agreements. But last week’s news makes clear that attention is equally needed on unbundling the Big Deal — breaking it back up into a la carte elements. Will some combination of these two outcomes allow major publishers to reestablish the value of their licenses without making a major revenue sacrifice? …”

Upcoming Elsevier Cancellations – UNC Chapel Hill Libraries

“We are writing to let you know that, despite more than a year of sustained negotiations, the publisher Elsevier has failed to provide an affordable path for UNC-Chapel Hill to renew our bundled package of approximately 2,000 e-journal titles. As a result, we will not renew this package when it expires on April 30, 2020. Instead, the University Libraries will subscribe to a much smaller set of individual Elsevier titles….”

Academic Libraries at a Pivotal Moment – The Scholarly Kitchen

“For the first time, we asked library directors how likely they are to cancel one or more major journal packages in the next licensing cycle. Half of library directors say that they will likely cancel a major journal package in the next five years….

A relatively small share of libraries plan on pivoting to transformative agreements to bundle publishing and subscription costs; only about 20 percent strongly agree it is a high priority to bundle open access publish fees with subscription costs….”

The Impact of Big Deal Breaks on Library Consortia: An Exploratory Case Study: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  This study examines the impact of Big Deal breaks on statewide resource sharing. An analysis within VIVA (Virginia’s academic library consortium) for Big Deal publishers showed significant lending of one publisher with low levels of statewide holdings. A closer examination of an individual institution with the most recent cancellations of this publisher’s content showed high levels of fulfillment from lending partners outside the consortium. As more groups cancel Big Deals, consideration for alternative access will be increasingly important, and understanding the resource sharing environment should inform a cooperative approach to journal acquisitions in order to minimize negative impacts on researchers.

 

For book publishers and non-profits with conferences canceled due to COVID-19, we’re making the Publica online library and reader/media player available free of charge.

“As we witness the wave of cancellations of vital gathering and conferences due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our publishing and media commerce service, Publica, has decided to offer our service free of charge to

Book Publishers hit hard by book fair cancellations, who want to their catalogs and new releases in front of retailers and readers
Non-Profit Organizations whose events are vitally important both to their constituents and to the community-at-large…”

For book publishers and non-profits with conferences canceled due to COVID-19, we’re making the Publica online library and reader/media player available free of charge.

“As we witness the wave of cancellations of vital gathering and conferences due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our publishing and media commerce service, Publica, has decided to offer our service free of charge to

Book Publishers hit hard by book fair cancellations, who want to their catalogs and new releases in front of retailers and readers
Non-Profit Organizations whose events are vitally important both to their constituents and to the community-at-large…”