UC system closes publishing deal with Cambridge University Press

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After five months of negotiations, Cambridge University Press and the UC system agreed to a three-year open-access publishing deal Wednesday.

The deal was announced six weeks after the UC system ended negotiations with Elsevier, an academic publishing company. The university began negotiations with Elsevier for a new subscription deal when its five-year license expired Dec. 31, but the UC system did not close the deal when Elsevier was unwilling to provide universal open-access publishing.

The partnership demonstrates that both open-access and cost goals can be met by a major scientific publisher, according to an email from UC Berkeley librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason.

“We believe this agreement is a harbinger of things to come — it shows that transforming publishing from a closed enterprise to an open enterprise is possible and can be accomplished in a sustainable manner,” Ivy Anderson, the associate executive director of the UC system’s California Digital Library, said in the email.

The three-year deal combines subscription fees and article publishing fees to establish a total cap so that the university will see no significant increase in cost, according to an email from MacKie-Mason.

According to the press release from Cambridge University Press, the partnership is Cambridge’s first open-access publishing deal in the Americas, the UC system’s first such deal with a major publisher, and the largest and one of the first open-access publishing deals in the United States.

“We hope this news encourages other universities and other publishers to follow suit,” MacKie-Mason said in the email.

Cambridge University Press, founded in 1534, is the world’s second-largest and oldest university press. The work it publishes crosses many disciplines, and approximately 70 percent of the journals it publishes are on behalf of academic societies, according to Anderson.

Before the agreement, UC journal subscriptions often had restrictions, posing barriers to research by limiting text and data mining. Open access makes research more widely available and shareable, creating more effective research partnerships and benefiting UC scholars, according to Anderson.

“This deal helps move the publishing industry into the 21st century, delivering scientific scholarship to everyone, anywhere, without a paywall,” MacKie-Mason said in the email. “It shows that UC’s model for transforming subscription agreements into open access publishing agreements can work. ”

While the agreement allows the UC system full, permanent access to scholarly articles published in Cambridge journals and provides open-access publishing to UC authors, there will still be an option to opt out of open access for publications and to publish articles behind a subscription paywall, according to Anderson.

“Open access will become the standard option for UC authors publishing in the majority of Cambridge journals,” MacKie-Mason said in the email. “This means that more people, around the world, will see the results of UC research — and that people can more easily build upon those findings to better the world.”

Contact Aishwarya Kaimal at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Aishwarya_R_K‏.

Correction(s):
Because of misinformation from a source, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Cambridge University Press and UC system were in negotiations for eight months. In fact, they were in negotiations for five months.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Ivy Anderson called Cambridge University Press a scientific publisher. In fact, Jeffrey MacKie-Mason called Cambridge University Press a scientific publisher.