Friday, March 1, 2019

No deal with Elsevier - Part 2

UC has also decided to depart
from the negotiations
An email from the UCLA library is reproduced below. Yesterday's blog post indicated negotiations were still underway. But apparently the situation has changed. Note that walking away from the table is itself a negotiating tactic. (Yours truly taught labor relations for many years.) We'll see now if Elsevier wants to resume discussions and adjust its position or if other universities follow UC's lead and thus put more pressure on Elsevier.

Dear Colleagues:
The University of California has made the difficult decision to end negotiations with Elsevier on a new contract for its package of journals. Elsevier has not provided a date on which its new journal content will no longer be accessible to UC students, faculty, and staff, but we expect it to be very soon.
Please note the following:
  • Users will continue to have access in perpetuity through ScienceDirect to most journal articles published prior to January 1, 2019. This covers about 86% of the titles covered by the old UC contract; a complete list is available online.
  • This does not affect access to e-books and patient care resources published by Elsevier, such as reference and clinical titles, or to non-journal research tools. Those are on separate contracts.

You can access recent journal articles through the following methods:
  • Interlibrary loan or UC e-Links
  • Open repositories
  • Browser extensions
  • Contacting the author

Find details on all of these methods on the UCLA Library website. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact your UCLA subject librarian.
Background on the negotiations:
Elsevier’s most recent offer failed to address UC’s central goal of a new contract that controlled costs while offering open access to research articles by its faculty and staff. Specifically, the Elsevier offer added more than $10 million per year in article publishing fees to make articles open access immediately upon publication, in addition to a multi-million-dollar annual subscription simply to read the journals.
The negotiating team consulted with the UC Academic Senate and the UC university librarians; both groups advised quite strongly against accepting the offer. With this decision, UC has joined a number of prestigious universities and consortia around the world that have rejected Elsevier’s extortionate prices and inflexible terms. This includes academic consortia in Germany, Hungary, Peru, Sweden, and Taiwan as well as Florida State University and University of Oklahoma.
We are determined to make published research by UCLA authors as accessible as possible, but not at such a steep price. We cannot spend more taxpayer dollars on one academic publisher when it significantly reduces funds available to spend on all our other collections, which UCLA students, faculty, and staff rely on daily for teaching and research.
We are redoubling our efforts to work with UCLA faculty and staff authors to support compliance with UC’s open access policies and to encourage UCLA authors who write, review, and edit for Elsevier journals to consider taking any or all of the actions outlined in our earlier message.
The actions that have led to this current situation of unsustainable price increases have been taken over the years by authors, publishers, and consumers individually as well as collectively. Developing robust international scholarly publishing alternatives that meet the needs of authors, support a diverse community of publishers earning sustainable profits, expand access, and remain affordable to institutions will require the active involvement of our colleagues at academic and research institutions around the world. We welcome your support for and participation in this ambitious effort.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Scott L. Waugh
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Joseph E. Bristow
Chair, Academic Senate
Distinguished Professor, English

Ginny Steel
Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian

And from Inside Higher Ed (excerpt):

...The cancellation, announced Thursday, is a blow to Elsevier, which is facing increasing pressure to change its largely subscription-based business model. Last year, hundreds of institutions in Germany and Sweden refused to sign a deal with Elsevier unless it agreed to fundamentally change the way it charges institutions to access and publish research.
UC has been pushing for a so-called read-and-publish deal with the company, which would offset the cost of open access publishing against the cost of access to subscription content. Lead negotiators for the system argue that this kind of deal will help publishers accelerate open-access publishing and eventually eliminate paywalls. Under such a deal, all UC research published in Elsevier journals would be immediately available to the public.
After more than six months of negotiations, it became clear that Elsevier was not willing to meet the UC’s demands, said Jeff Mackie-Mason and Ivy Anderson, the system’s lead negotiators.
Elsevier made an offer that would combine the costs of accessing paywalled content and publishing open access articles. But the offer came with a hefty price tag, the negotiators said, which the system was not willing to pay.
UC wanted to integrate its fees and reduce its costs. Elsevier wanted to charge publishing fees on top of subscription fees, said Ivy Anderson. “That predicate made it impossible to reach an agreement,” she said. The UC system was paying the company more than $10 million a year for journal access...

Finally, there is this from the British Proactive Investors:

Publishing giant RELX PLC (LON:REL) was among the biggest blue-chip losers on Friday after the University of California cancelled its multi-million-pound academic journals contract. Relx’s Elsevier unit publishes almost half-a-million academic articles every year and UC was happy to keep paying its hefty subscription fee so it could continue to access them. But for the same price, it also wanted Relx to distribute its authors’ work to other researchers for free, something universities would normally have to pay extra for. Analysts said it was “no wonder” the publisher refused to give in to the demands given that it would have undermined its business model.

The number crunchers don’t expect the cancellation to affect this year’s numbers too much, but the stock fell 5.6% to 1,631p on concerns over the possible longer-term fall-out. “How much does this encourage other universities to take a similar line?” asked City broker Liberum in a research note. “That would presumably be the issue for Elsevier as UC's very open move could encourage others to follow suit.”


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