University of California System opts out of more than $10 million contract with scholarly publisher Elsevier

The University of California System is made up of 10 schools and over 100 libraries, including several prestigious research universities, such as UC-Berkeley. Inside Higher Ed reports that the UC System “accounts for almost 10 percent of the research output of the United States.” And, Elsevier is an information and analytics company that distributes many prestigious academic journals, such as the Lancet, through their online databases including ScienceDirect and Scopus.

Many universities and academic libraries view providing access to scholarly journals through online databases as an essential service to promote research and scholarly communication. The open access movement has been growing, but authors are typically still required to pay an additional fee to have their article be open access. Elsevier’s pricing to publish open access ranges from $150-$5,000 per article. Since the UC-System is a large and research-driven system, the decision to break with Elsevier could potentially be the beginning of a larger change in scholarly publishing and access.

The UC-Elsevier Negotiating Team was made up of six members, including one university librarian. In an open statement, the team explained that the primary reasons for turning down the Elsevier contract were higher costs, reduced rights, limitation on institutional support for authors, and excluded journals. The Los Angeles Times reported than in addition to the high cost of the UC contract with Elsevier, the system was also negotiating to have “universal free access to articles written by UC researchers and professors.”

The UC-System is not alone in their decision. Inside Higher Ed recently reported that Norway joined Sweden and Germany in opting out of their contracts with Elsevier. Norway’s negotiating authority also wanted an agreement where they could freely publish their own research articles for public access.

To read the full Los Angeles Times article, click here.

To read the full Inside Higher Ed article click here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

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