Decrypting the Big Deal Landscape: Follow-up of the 2019 EUA Big Deals Survey Report

“As of 2017, the European University Association (EUA) assembled a unique collection of ‘Big Deals’ data on agreements between scholarly publishers and (national) consortia of libraries, universities and research organisations. This was carried out in the light of mounting higher education institution concerns about the increasingly unsustainable cost of subscriptions to scholarly publications. In 2016, EUA committed to “establishing an evidence base about current agreements and on-going negotiations with publishers in collaboration with NRCs”.1 Subsequently, data collected by EUA has served as the basis for two reports released in 2018 and 2019, respectively.2 Big Deals now receive increased attention due to their potential to ‘flip’ entire segments of the scholarly publication market from closed to open access publications. Big deals have also been widely criticised for locking-in library budgets, due to constantly increasing subscription costs. The 2019 EUA Big Deals Survey Report surveyed covered 30 European countries and found that over €1 billion is spent on electronic resources each year, including at least €726 million spent on periodicals alone. Big Deals are said to limit competition and innovation in the scholarly publishing system3 and curb universities’ and consortia’s financial freedom to pursue other priorities. However, recently, several European negotiating consortia and scholarly publishers have concluded Big Deals that allow eligible authors to publish articles in open access formats in specific journals. Known as ‘transformative agreements’, these contracts are also supported as one way to comply with future funder requirements that will apply as of 2021 under Plan S.4 In a system that is largely defined by Big Deals, this report aims to inform the transition to open access debate, by providing additional insights and indicators on these agreements’ costs, publication volumes and timelines. This has been achieved by placing EUA Big Deals data into context….

Part 1 explains the methods used to obtain the underlying data as well as limitations and responsible use of the data. Part 2 links the publication outputs of journal articles and reviews to the large five publishers’ market share. It seeks to provide a bigger picture of the relation between subscription costs and publishing output. Part 3 sets out an analysis of the price-per-article for each country and publisher, calculated on the basis of subscription prices and publication volume. It provides European negotiators with comparative Big Deals price per article data in 26 countries. Part 4 takes a closer look at the timeline of Big Deal agreements collected by the EUA Big Deals Survey. It shows that the 2018-2020 period is crucial for negotiations with scholarly publishers (in terms of market volume). Negotiations that occur during this time may also be crucial for the further development of ‘transformative’ agreements and therefore compliance with Plan S requirements. Part 5 provides a brief summary of our main findings, contextualises them with current developments and provides policy recommendations….”

Harvard Library’s Commitment to Open Access | Harvard Library

“In my own view, to achieve this equity and diversity, we need to go beyond article processing charges (APCs) and the aims of transformative agreements. A reliance on APCs excludes authors who cannot find the money to pay them, and that burden falls disproportionately on authors from the global south and from less affluent institutions in the global north. We need to develop truly transformative models that leverage the opportunities of the digital age and fully remove cost barriers: no fees for authors or readers. We need to envision distributed, trusted networks, rather than letting control rest within just a few entities. We need academic control of academic work. We need to invest in reasonable and transparent costs, ideally within an open-source framework, for infrastructure and services that enable the use of that scholarly work.

Plan S gives a nod in the direction of new platforms: “Plan S is NOT just about a publication fee model of Open Access publishing. cOAlition S supports a diversity of sustainability models for Open Access journals and platforms…” Last fall, I appreciated seeing the Plan S feedback provided jointly by Harvard and MIT, including this statement: “We’d like to see Plan S reinforce and expand — rather than neglect or unintentionally hinder — the power of open-access repositories to democratize access to science and scholarship.” Earlier this October, the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) and cOAlition S issued a joint statement noting that “Repositories offer a low-cost, high-value option for providing Open Access and are also a mechanism for introducing innovation in scholarly communication, acting as vehicles for developing new dissemination models and providing access to a wide range of scholarly content.” …”

MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts | Scholarly Publishing – MIT Libraries

“The core principles of an MIT Framework for publisher contracts are:

No author will be required to waive any institutional or funder open access policy to publish in any of the publisher’s journals.
No author will be required to relinquish copyright, but instead will be provided with options that enable publication while also providing authors with generous reuse rights.
Publishers will directly deposit scholarly articles in institutional repositories immediately upon publication or will provide tools/mechanisms that facilitate immediate deposit.
Publishers will provide computational access to subscribed content as a standard part of all contracts, with no restrictions on non-consumptive, computational analysis of the corpus of subscribed content.
Publishers will ensure the long-term digital preservation and accessibility of their content through participation in trusted digital archives.
Institutions will pay a fair and sustainable price to publishers for value-added services, based on transparent and cost-based pricing models….”

MIT announces framework to guide negotiations with publishers | MIT News

“The MIT Libraries, together with the MIT Committee on the Library System and the Ad Hoc Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, announced that it has developed a principle-based framework to guide negotiations with scholarly publishers. The framework emerges directly from the core principles for open science and open scholarship articulated in the recommendations of the Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, which released its final report to the MIT community on Oct. 18.

The framework affirms the overarching principle that control of scholarship and its dissemination should reside with scholars and their institutions. It aims to ensure that scholarly research outputs are openly and equitably available to the broadest possible audience, while also providing valued services to the MIT community….”

Faculty senate green lights negotiation principles with unanimous vote | University Library | Iowa State University

“On October 15, the Iowa State University Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution that supports the University Library’s Principles for Advancing Openness through Journal Negotiations.

The journal negotiation principles, adopted this summer, help the University Library advance openness and achieve financial sustainability and greater transparency. The principles and the support they have received will provide useful guidance to the library in its current and future negotiations, helping to inform journal publishers about what is most important at Iowa State.

The resolution’s three main points are:

Prioritize openness through open access sources
Reject nondisclosure language in agreements with publishers
Pursue financially sustainable journal agreements

The University Library Advisory Committee, representing faculty, students, and staff, has also written a letter of endorsement for the principles. These actions demonstrate strong support for the library in managing journal costs and advancing open access….”

“Principles for Advancing Openness through Journal Negotiations” by IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

This is the full text: 

“1. PRIORITIZE OPENNESS As part of a public land grant university with a mission to create and share knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place, the University Library will prioritize agreements that advance open access and other methods of open dissemination for research outputs. Participating in a global movement advocating for open access, we work toward democratizing access to knowledge by reducing financial barriers inherent in traditional publishing practices.

2. TRANSPARENCY — NO NON-DISCLOSURE Fair agreements that advance open access and control costs will only emerge from fair negotiations. Fair negotiations can only take place when publishers and libraries have equal access to information. Publisher practice has been to require non-disclosure agreements that restrict libraries from sharing the prices they pay and the terms and conditions of their agreements. The informational asymmetry this creates greatly favors the interests of publishers at the expense of libraries and their campuses. We will demonstrate our commitment to open access and transparency by rejecting non-disclosure language in our agreements and sharing our agreements publicly.

3. FINANCIALLY SUSTAINABLE Financially sustainable journal agreements will emerge from a diverse scholarly publishing landscape—where learned societies and not-for-profit publishers can compete and thrive; where innovation is incentivized and rewarded; and where reasonable profit margins are the norm. We will prioritize agreements that help shape this world and provide long-term financial sustainability to our library.”

University Librarian Elaine Westbrooks is on a mission to open Carolina’s research to all – The Well : The Well

“I hope our scholars realize that this is something that has to be done. This is the tipping point for us. The money is not there to support the status quo. I’ve heard from many faculty who agree that that we need to change this system that we have.

The current model is unsustainable for universities and is inconsistent with the values of a public university. We’re “of the public, for the public,” designed to serve the state and the citizens of the state. So, I feel as though we have no choice but to transform this system to critique what we’ve done. That critique is going to have some consequences, which I think are good….

We’re negotiating with Elsevier to find out what kind of license we can sign that will be affordable, sustainable, promotes open access and is transparent. Those are the four values that we have set. We’re at a tipping point where it’s just not possible to keep doing business as usual….”

Moedas: Europe should lead negotiations with academic publishers | Times Higher Education (THE)

“The European Union’s outgoing research chief has called on nations to strike deals with academic publishers together, rather than negotiating country by country and weakening their power.

Carlos Moedas, who is at the end of a five-year term as European commissioner for research, science and innovation, told Times Higher Education that negotiating with publishers was a “great example” of something the EU should take on.

In recent years several European countries including Germany, Norway and Sweden have been locked in talks with big academic publishers such as Elsevier and Springer Nature in an attempt to shift towards open access and drive down costs….

“I think that should be done at the level of the union. This is a great example of added value,” he said, referring to an area where it made sense for the EU, rather than nation states, to take the lead….”

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….”

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….”