UC strikes deal with Elsevier to increase research accessibility

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A publishing agreement between the UC system and Elsevier is expected to go into effect Apri 1 and continue through March 31, 2025. The contract will enable open access publishing in more than 2,000 Elsever journals and reestablish UC access to Elsevier journal articles.

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Marking a large step toward making research freely available to all, the UC system struck an open publishing deal with research publishing giant Elsevier.

Under the publication model, UC researchers pay a fee to publish their work in a journal that anyone in the world can then access free of cost on the internet. The four-year contract will restore UC access to Elsevier journal articles and allow open access publishing in about 2,300 Elsevier journals, including prestigious journals such as Cell Press and the Lancet, from day one, according to a UC Berkeley Library News press release.

“With subscription publishing, no one can afford access to all scholarly journals: not UC, not Harvard, not any large institution,” said Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, university librarian at UC Berkeley, in an email. “Open access speeds up and improves science, and we all benefit.”

The deal comes after the UC system ended its partnership with Elsevier in February 2019 due to disagreements over high costs connected with the publication model, which left the UC system with limited reading access to Elsevier’s articles, according to MacKie-Mason.

With the new agreement, UC Berkeley Library will automatically pay the first $1,000 of researchers’ article publishing charges and help subsidize authors who do not have enough funds for the remaining amount. Additionally, UC researchers will receive a 10% discount on Cell Press and Lancet journals and a 15% discount on most Elsevier journals.

“(The pay-to-publish model) is a particularly compelling goal because much of scholarly work is taxpayer supported, either through salaries at public colleges and universities or by government grant funding,” said Ellen Simms, UC Berkeley Library committee member, in an email. “This situation begs the question of why the public should pay twice to read the results of research it has funded.”

The UC system will pay Elsevier about $13 million for open access publishing. While it is the same price paid in 2018, the UC system will save about 7% when considering annual inflation rates, according to MacKie-Mason.

In efforts to expand open publishing rights in other journals, the UC system signed open access agreements with three other publishers this month: the Company of Biologists, the Royal Society and Canadian Science Publishing. The university also had similar agreements with publishers such as Springer Nature and Cambridge University Press in the past.

During the last two years, Elsevier has also signed agreements to expand accessibility with 15 other organizations, including open access deals with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Florida.

“Fundamentally our mission, to help researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society, means that we will always support researchers reading and publishing the research they need,” said Elsevier spokesperson Andrew Davis in an email.

The agreement between the UC system and Elsevier will go into effect beginning April 1 this year and end on March 31, 2025, according to the contract.

Contact Cindy Liu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @_CindyLiu_.