“Being published is the bread and butter of intellectuals, especially academics. publication, in theory, is a way for information to be shared across the globe, but it also has become big business. In a recent Chemistry World article the standoff between Germany’s Project DEAL (a consortium comprised of German universities) and Dutch publisher, Elsevier, is examined along with possible fall-out from the end result.
At the heart of the dispute is who controls the publications. Currently, Elsevier holds the cards and has wielded their power to make a clear point on the matter. Project DEAL, though, is not going down without a fight and Chemistry World quotes Horst Hippler, a physical chemist and chief negotiator for Project DEAL, as saying,
In the course of digitisation, science communication is undergoing a fundamental transformation process. Comprehensive, free and – above all – sustainable access to scientific publications is of immense importance to our researchers. We therefore will actively pursue the transformation to open access, which is an important building block in the concept of open science. To this end, we want to create a fair and sustainable basis through appropriate licensing agreements with Elsevier and other scientific publishers.
As publications are moving farther from ink and paper and more to digital who owns the rights to the information is becoming murkier. It will be interesting to see how this battle plays out and if any more disgruntled academics jump on board.”
“The German consortium DEAL, however, did adopt a firm negotiating stance, and let subscriptions run out at the end of 2016, rather than accepting an unsatisfactory proposal by Elsevier. And DEAL’s Ralf Schimmer is not afraid to publicly mention Sci-Hub, and to advocate the collapse of the subscriptions system. As a result, many German researchers are now unable to legally access Elsevier journals, except through slow, unsystematic and/or inconvenient procedures. Academics who write in Elsevier journals should know that their German colleagues may find it difficult to read their work: this is one more reason not to write in Elsevier journals.
With a Finnish and a Taiwanese consortium in comparable situations, DEAL is not alone, but it is the largest and probably the boldest consortium to take on Elsevier. We may soon learn how long academics can survive without the subscriptions to which they are accustomed, and whether important concessions can now be extracted from publishers. DEAL has a sound strategy (including begin prepared for not reaching an agreement) and favourable environment (easy access to Sci-Hub): if it fails, nobody else is likely to succeed. If DEAL succeeds, it will find imitators, and the end of the subscriptions system could come as soon as the current subscription contracts expire. (These contracts are typically for five years.) Threatened with the demise of subscriptions, the publishing industry has two options:
performing a revenue-neutral switch from subscriptions to gold open access,
trying to block access to Sci-Hub.
Option #1 is not popular with big publishers, who have rather been trying to earn money from gold open access on top of subscriptions. After all, from their point of view, they should earn more for giving access to everyone, than for giving access to subscribers only. Hints that option #1 is still not pursued seriously include the rejection by Elsevier of DEAL’s demand that articles with German authors be made open access, and the recent launch by Springer Nature of five new subscription journals. So publishers are most likely pursuing option #2. Their efforts can hardly be limited to the rather ineffective lawsuit of Elsevier against Sci-Hub, and there may soon be further attempts to make Sci-Hub less accessible in countries where subscriptions matter, including especially Germany. The future of open access may be determined by whether publishers manage to have Sci-Hub effectively blocked, before subscriptions irreversibly collapse. At the moment, publishers seem to think that they can win this slow-moving race. But at least, thanks to the DEAL consortium, the race has begun.”
“Thousands of scientists in Germany, Peru and Taiwan are preparing for a new year without online access to journals from the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier. Contract negotiations in both Germany and Taiwan broke down in December, while Peru’s government has cut off funding for a licence….Elsevier and the [German] DEAL consortium, says Hippler, are still far apart with regards to pricing and the OA business model. “Taxpayers have a right to read what they are paying for,” he says. “Publishers must understand that the route to open-access publishing at an affordable price is irreversible.”
In Taiwan, meanwhile, more than 75% of universities, including the country’s top 11 institutions, have joined a collective boycott against Elsevier, says Yan-Jyi Huang, library director at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST, also known as Taiwan Tech).
On 7 December, the Taiwanese consortium, CONCERT, which represents more than 140 institutions, announced it would not renew its contract with Elsevier because fees were too high. Elsevier switched to dealing with universities individually. But the NTUST and many others — including Taiwan’s leading research institute, Academia Sinica — have each decided to uphold the boycott, from 1 January 2017….”