University of California leads fight over access to research

“Behind closed doors, the University of California is staging a revolt against the world’s largest journal publisher, threatening to drop all subscriptions when its contract with Reed Elsevier soon expires.

This is no pointy-headed dispute: Publication is how new discoveries are shared, building the foundation for future intellectual breakthroughs.

The university was poised to lose access to Elsevier’s journals when its five-year contract ends on Dec. 31.  But on Friday [12/21] afternoon, the adversaries agreed to extend the deadline for one more month.

If an agreement is not reached, everyone in the UC system — 21,200 faculty and 251,700 students — could face tighter access to new research findings. (Access to older articles would continue uninterrupted.) The university’s library says it would work to get them through other means, such as a loan from a non-UC library….”

The Scientific Community Supports Funders Mandating Open Access, Adds Balance to the Discussion of the Plan S | Open Science

“More than 1,800 researchers have endorsed the plan by science funding bodies to transition to Open Access their models of disbursing funds to researchers, as the European Plan S continues to garner international backing, such as from China….”

In Talks With Elsevier, UCLA Reaches for a Novel Bargaining Chip: Its Faculty – The Chronicle of Higher Education

“The University of California at Los Angeles turned to an unusual bit of leverage as its system negotiates with Elsevier, the academic-publishing giant: its own faculty’s research.

In a letter on Tuesday, campus officials asked faculty members to consider declining to review articles for Elsevier journals until negotiations “are clearly moving in a productive direction.” The letter also asked professors to consider publishing research elsewhere, including in prestigious open-access journals.

The university system has said it wants to reach an agreement that would be less expensive and simplify open-access publishing. But time for negotiations is running out: The contract expires on December 31….”

University of California challenges Elsevier over access to scholarly research

Lots of universities grumble about the price and restrictions of their subscription contracts with publishers, but few have the negotiating power of the University of California System — which single-handedly accounts for almost 10 percent of the research output of the United States.

The UC system, which paid over $10 million this year to the publishing giant Elsevier in journal subscription fees, is unhappy with the status quo. So unhappy that when the UC system’s current five-year contract with Elsevier ends on Dec. 31, officials say, they are willing to put access to Elsevier journals on hold until the university gets what it wants. An Elsevier representative said that the publisher is working hard to reach an agreement with the UC system before its contract expires….”

Potential Changes to UC’s Relationship with Elsevier in January 2019

“The University of California is renegotiating its systemwide licenses with some of the world’s largest scholarly journal publishers, including industry giant Elsevier. These negotiations may create significant changes in our access to new articles published in Elsevier journals as soon as January 1, 2019. (See below for details on town hall meetings where you can learn more regarding access and timing.)

Importantly, the UC has adopted a new approach to these negotiations, seeking not only to constrain the runaway costs of journal subscriptions, but to make it easier and more affordable for UC authors to publish their research with open access. Depending on how the negotiations proceed, a range of potential outcomes could materialize:

  • If we are successful, the UC may begin to implement a new system for publishing research in Elsevier journals in the near future.
  • On the other hand, if we are unable to reach an agreement before our current contract ends on December 31, we may lose access to future articles in Elsevier’s journals through their ScienceDirect platform.

The proposed change

The agreement that the UC proposed to Elsevier covers both UC’s journal subscriptions andopen access publishing of UC research in Elsevier journals, similar to “publish and read” agreements pioneered in Europe. The proposal would give every UC author the opportunity to make their work freely accessible — automatically and upon publication — to readers and researchers around the world….”

Championing Change in Journal Negotiations – Office of Scholarly Communication

Because the lion’s share of both the University’s research output and of our library budgets is bound up with the services of journal publishers, advancing these goals is inextricably entwined with the University’s ongoing relationships with publishers and must be addressed in the context of the agreements we sign with them.  Our goal, simply put, is to responsibly transition funding for journal subscriptions toward funding for open dissemination.  As we approach major journal negotiations for 2019, the UC system will be guided by the principles and goals outlined below in negotiating agreements with publishers.

In issuing this Call to Action, SLASIAC, UCOLASC, and the UC Council of University Librarians seek to engage the entire UC academic community, and indeed all stakeholders in the scholarly communication enterprise, in this journey of transformation….

For more than a decade, the University of California has institutionalized its commitment to open research dissemination with multiple statements, policies, and initiatives, in furtherance of its distinctive mission to serve society and translate research into knowledge and innovations that positively impact California, the nation, and the world.  Among the many actions designed to advance scholarly communication have been the adoption of faculty senate and presidential policies mandating the open deposit of research articles, and the development of an increasingly robust open access publishing capability on the California Digital Library’s eScholarship platform.  More recently, six UC campuses and their faculty-led Academic Senates have declared their commitment to making open access the default mode of research dissemination by supporting the OA2020 initiative, and other UC campuses are actively considering this support.  The faculty-led University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC) has also issued a Declaration of Rights and Principles to Transform Scholarly Communication for negotiating journal licenses with publishers.  And the UC Libraries have released Pathways to OA as a unified conceptual and strategic framework to guide future actions.  All of these efforts provide the context in which we will pursue open access to the journal literature and a broader transformation in scholarly communication….

Strategic Priorities for Journal Negotiations

  1. We will prioritize making immediate open access publishing available to UC authors as part of our negotiated agreements.
  2. We will prioritize agreements that lower the cost of research access and dissemination, with sustainable, cost-based fees for OA publication.  Payments for OA publication should reduce the cost of subscriptions at UC and elsewhere.
  3. We will prioritize agreements with publishers who are transparent about the amount of APC-funded content within their portfolios, and who share that information with customers as well as the public.
  4. We will prioritize agreements that enable UC to achieve expenditure reductions in our licenses when necessary, without financial penalty.
  5. We will prioritize agreements that make any remaining subscription content available under terms that fully reflect academic values and norms, including the broadest possible use rights.
  6. We will prioritize agreements that allow UC to share information about the open access provisions with all interested stakeholders, and we will not agree to non-disclosure requirements in our licenses.
  7. We will prioritize working proactively with publishers who help us achieve a full transition to open access in accordance with the principles and pathways articulated by our faculty and our libraries….”



Abstract:  As universities recognize the inherent value in the data they collect and hold, they encounter unforeseen challenges in stewarding those data in ways that balance accountability, transparency, and protection of privacy, academic freedom, and intellectual property. Two parallel developments in academic data collection are converging: (1) open access requirements, whereby researchers must provide access to their data as a condition of obtaining grant funding or publishing results in journals; and (2) the vast accumulation of “grey data” about individuals in their daily activities of research, teaching, learning, services, and administration. The boundaries between research and grey data are blurring, making it more difficult to assess the risks and responsibilities associated with any data collection. Many sets of data, both research and grey, fall outside privacy regulations such as HIPAA, FERPA, and PII. Universities are exploiting these data for research, learning analytics, faculty evaluation, strategic decisions, and other sensitive matters. Commercial entities are besieging universities with requests for access to data or for partnerships to mine them. The privacy frontier facing research universities spans open access practices, uses and misuses of data, public records requests, cyber risk, and curating data for privacy protection. This Article explores the competing values inherent in data stewardship and makes recommendations for practice by drawing on the pioneering work of the University of California in privacy and information security, data governance, and cyber risk.

Publisher Communications about the UC OA Policies – Office of Scholarly Communication

“Though the vast majority of publishers that UC authors work with have been aware of UC’s Senate OA policy for over four years, very few of them have asked authors to opt out of the policy by getting a waiver, and those who have requested waivers have done so inconsistently.  No publisher has notified the University that it plans to request waivers from all UC authors as a matter of course. Based on two years of waiver requests by UC faculty, it appears that authors publishing with Nature, PNAS, AAAS, and ARRS are generating the greatest number of waivers.

Below are the number of waivers requested by UC authors between August 2, 2013, when the UC-wide senate policy was announced, and August 1, 2018. …”

Read and Publish: Is It Good for the Academy? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“With Elsevier cutting off access to its licensed content products at dozens if not hundreds of German and Swedish universities as a result of contract lapses, the European dynamics are taking another interesting turn. On Elsevier’s side, its financial performance for the first half of the year is apparently not impacted by the contract lapses, suggesting that it will be prepared to dig in for a long dispute if necessary. As for the negotiating consortia in the two countries, there is thus far no evidence that their researchers are causing libraries to scramble for access, suggesting that they too are preparing to dig in. Lines of communications between German negotiators and Elsevier remain open, so it should surprise no one if at least one major Read and Publish agreement is eventually reached….

PLOS and several other new entrants have grown up on the promise of APC-driven competition. And the gold promise has long been that APCs would ensure scholar-driven article-level price competition among journals. But Read and Publish threatens to put a lid on this competition….

Will Read and Publish agreements make it harder for new competition to emerge and for recent entrants to compete?…”