The UC and Elsevier are refusing to compromise at unacceptable cost to students | Daily Bruin

“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….”

Don’t Let Science Publisher Elsevier Hold Knowledge for Ransom

It’s Open Access Week and we’re joining SPARC and dozens of other organizations this week to discuss the importance of open access to scientific research publications. 

An academic publisher should widely disseminate the knowledge produced by scholars, not hold it for ransom. But ransoming scientific research back to the academic community is essentially the business model of the world’s largest publisher of scientific journals: Elsevier.

In February of this year, after drawn-out negotiations broke down, the University of California terminated its subscription with Elsevier. A central sticking point in these negotiations was around open access: specifically Elsevier’s refusal to provide universal open access to UC research, a problem exacerbated by skyrocketing subscription fees.

This has been an ongoing fight, not just in California. Many academics (and EFF) believe that scholarly research most effectively advances scientific progress when it is widely available to the public, and not subject to the paywalls erected by publishers. Scientific research is a driving force behind technological innovations, medical breakthroughs, and policy decisions, and the bulk of it in the U.S. is publicly funded. When libraries, universities, individuals, and even researchers themselves have to pay to access academic work, we all suffer.

Elsevier boasts profit margins in excess of 30%, much of it derived from taxpayer dollars. Academics effectively volunteer their time to publishers to write articles, conduct peer review, and sit on editorial boards, and then publishers demand ownership of the copyright and control over dissemination. Universities and other institutions fund these researchers, and a mega-publisher like Elsevier reaps the benefits while trapping all of that work behind a paywall.

In response to this outdated and deleterious system, two UCSF researchers have started a petition to boycott Elsevier, calling on all academics to refuse to publish in Elsevier journals, peer-review their articles, or sit on their editorial boards (as many already have). They’ve also written a piece calling for a wider re-imagining of the academic publishing system, that’s more in line with an open access model. A large and growing number of scholars have signed the petition already.

This is far from the first time someone has called for a boycott of Elsevier. Efforts go back to 2012 with a call to action from mathematician Timothy Gowers which led to the “The Cost of Knowledge” campaign. Since then, boycotts have extended across entire countries, across Asia, Europe, and

ARL Supports University of California Libraries’ Commitment to Barrier-Free Access to Information – Association of Research Libraries

“The Libraries of the University of California (UC) are seeking transformative agreements with publishers such that access to the research of UC faculty is open to all, not limited to those who can afford it. In February 2019, the UC Libraries withdrew from negotiations with the publisher Elsevier due to lack of progress, and in July, Elsevier cut off access to current content for all UC campuses.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) expresses strong support for the UC Libraries in their efforts to initiate change and expand access to research. While ARL member library approaches to transformative change may vary, we applaud UC’s commitment to the values and vision they have articulated even at the expense of disruption. In particular, we commend the strong coalition of faculty, librarians, and administrators across the UC system, that together developed the principles and together managed the negotiations….”

SCELC Supports the University of California’s Push for Open Access to Research | SCELC

“SCELC, a California based consortium of 113 private academic and nonprofit research libraries, fully supports the University of California in their decision to not renew their Elsevier subscriptions until a transformative open access agreement can be reached. As North America’s largest publicly funded research university system, UC’s position puts it in the forefront of the global movement to shift the publication of research to open access, placing control of researchers’ output in the hands of its creators. Unsustainable journal subscription price increases have far exceeded the capacity of library budgets, and open access models such as that being negotiated by the UCs offer a long-term viable alternative that benefits both libraries and public access to the research that is often supported by public and grant funds….”

Case for Open Access and the Current Situation with the University of California and Elsevier

“The last few weeks have provided great assurance that the University of California going forward will have agreements based on open access principles, including with Elsevier. Norway has reached an open access deal with Elsevier and the University has reached an open access deal with another important publisher, Cambridge University Press. In these models, which work on the principles of “pay to publish,” costs are contained and risks mitigated for both institutions and publishers, which will create a sustainable and open scholarly ecosystem.”

Open Access: Will the Paywalls Come Tumbling Down? | European Heart Journal | Oxford Academic

“The drive to make publicly-funded research freely available to all interested parties has been gathering momentum over recent years with support from academics and funders and backing from the European Commission. Although there is a broad agreement that open access is best for everyone, methods of dismantling paywalls and ending systems of subscription are an ongoing subject of debate….”

Open Access: Will the Paywalls Come Tumbling Down? | European Heart Journal | Oxford Academic

“The drive to make publicly-funded research freely available to all interested parties has been gathering momentum over recent years with support from academics and funders and backing from the European Commission. Although there is a broad agreement that open access is best for everyone, methods of dismantling paywalls and ending systems of subscription are an ongoing subject of debate….”

Open Access Tipping Point (OATIP) Public Affirmation – Office of Scholarly Communication

“The following public affirmation was co-authored by library and faculty participants of the OATIP workshop.

On August 28-29 2019, library and faculty participants from 17 universities and consortia came together at the Open Access Tipping Point workshop in Washington DC to learn from one another, express our shared values, and pursue a more open and equitable scholarly communication ecosystem.

While our approaches and strategies may take different forms, we affirm the importance of using journal license negotiations to promote open access to our scholarship and to support sustainable business models, including the elimination of dual payments to publishers.

We will advocate broadly, and work with our stakeholders both locally and in existing consortia, to advance these common goals….”

What Do Statements of Support for California Tell Us About the Big Deal? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The statements take a variety of positions, spanning from criticism of commercial publishing (especially large publishers with steep pricing and large profit margins) to advocating open access more ideologically. Here are the key characteristics we noted in our review:

Authorship: The statements are predominantly written by library leaders. There are, however, a few from senior university leaders such as Provosts or Vice Provosts of Research. 
Claim — System is Broken: The primary  argument put forth is that the current knowledge sharing system is no longer fit for purpose and that there is a need to shift to a sustainable and open publishing ecosystem.
Claim — Needed Interventions: The statements vary in the kinds of interventions that they call for. Some highlight exploring alternative models for supporting open access dissemination of content. Others make a case for transparent and affordable pricing of formal open access publishing, typically coupled with a desire to control open access article processing charges (APCs).While some suggest that the system is reaching a tipping point, regardless of which intervention(s) a statement highlights, the overall suggestion is to shift funds to support open access rather than continue expenditure on closed for-profit publishing.
Justification — Access and Impact: Some statements view scholarly communication through a lens of diversity and inclusivity and argue that scholarly publications should be accessible across all educational systems and to the public at large. Additionally, these statements mention the analysis that has shown greater use and citations of open access publications in comparison to those that are not open.

In addition to rhetorical positioning, some statements imply a promise of action: 

Future Negotiations: Some refer to either ongoing or upcoming negotiations with prominent publishers; however, they stop short of making any projections about desired outcomes or “lines in the sand” that would cause cancellation.
Raising Campus Awareness: Some say that the California cancellation has been an opportunity to start campus conversations about the Big Deal and its implications. These conversations seek to raise awareness of the challenges library budgets face and also to explain the specifics of the UC’s cancellation of Elsevier contract. There are several general statements about the intentions to work with the campus academic communities to continue to advance our advocacy and support for open access.
Promotion of Services: Some are leveraging their support statements to promote their institutional repositories, open access policies and mandates, APC support funds, and related service consultancies for copyright, publisher agreements, and public policy compliance….”

What Do Statements of Support for California Tell Us About the Big Deal? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The statements take a variety of positions, spanning from criticism of commercial publishing (especially large publishers with steep pricing and large profit margins) to advocating open access more ideologically. Here are the key characteristics we noted in our review:

Authorship: The statements are predominantly written by library leaders. There are, however, a few from senior university leaders such as Provosts or Vice Provosts of Research. 
Claim — System is Broken: The primary  argument put forth is that the current knowledge sharing system is no longer fit for purpose and that there is a need to shift to a sustainable and open publishing ecosystem.
Claim — Needed Interventions: The statements vary in the kinds of interventions that they call for. Some highlight exploring alternative models for supporting open access dissemination of content. Others make a case for transparent and affordable pricing of formal open access publishing, typically coupled with a desire to control open access article processing charges (APCs).While some suggest that the system is reaching a tipping point, regardless of which intervention(s) a statement highlights, the overall suggestion is to shift funds to support open access rather than continue expenditure on closed for-profit publishing.
Justification — Access and Impact: Some statements view scholarly communication through a lens of diversity and inclusivity and argue that scholarly publications should be accessible across all educational systems and to the public at large. Additionally, these statements mention the analysis that has shown greater use and citations of open access publications in comparison to those that are not open.

In addition to rhetorical positioning, some statements imply a promise of action: 

Future Negotiations: Some refer to either ongoing or upcoming negotiations with prominent publishers; however, they stop short of making any projections about desired outcomes or “lines in the sand” that would cause cancellation.
Raising Campus Awareness: Some say that the California cancellation has been an opportunity to start campus conversations about the Big Deal and its implications. These conversations seek to raise awareness of the challenges library budgets face and also to explain the specifics of the UC’s cancellation of Elsevier contract. There are several general statements about the intentions to work with the campus academic communities to continue to advance our advocacy and support for open access.
Promotion of Services: Some are leveraging their support statements to promote their institutional repositories, open access policies and mandates, APC support funds, and related service consultancies for copyright, publisher agreements, and public policy compliance….”