University of California and Elsevier reach agreement restoring access to journals


Young Research Library

Ben Alkaly/UCLA

After more than two years of negotiations, the University of California has reached an open-access agreement with Elsevier, the world’s largest academic publisher. The new four-year deal will go into effect on April 1, restoring UCLA’s direct online access to Elsevier journals.

At the same time, the agreement accomplishes the university’s two goals for all publisher agreements: it enables universal open access to all UC research; and it contains the excessively high costs associated with licensing journals.

“I want to personally thank the Bruin community for joining the UCLA Library to advance this important cause despite the fact that it presented challenges to some of our readers,” said Virgina Steel, the Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian. “By standing firm on the university’s goals of making UC research freely available to all, we have made headway in improving scholarly communication for the better.”

The agreement with Elsevier will double the number of articles covered by UC’s open-access agreements while also directly supporting the university’s responsibility as a steward of public funds and its mission as a public university to make its research freely available.

“Ultimately, our goal is to make it possible for all authors to publish their work in the journals of their choice and in a way that provides broad public access to the fruits of UCLA research,” Steel said.

The agreement’s highlights expected to have the greatest impact on the UCLA community, include:

  • Reading access: Effective April 1, UCLA will regain access to articles published in Elsevier journals the libraries subscribed to before, plus additional journals to which UC previously did not subscribe. Access to those journals in ScienceDirect will start to be restored now and will continue to be added until they are all available on April 1.
  • Open access publishing in Elsevier journals: The agreement will provide for open access publishing of UC research in more than 2,300 Elsevier journals from day one. The Cell Press and Lancet families of journals will be integrated midway through the four-year agreement; UC’s agreement is the first in the world to provide for open access publishing in the entire suite of these prestigious journals.
  • Library support for open access publishing: All articles with a UCLA corresponding author will be open access by default, with the UCLA Library automatically paying the first $1,000 of the open access fee (also known as an article publishing charge or APC). Authors will be asked to pay the remainder of the APC if they have research funds available to do so.
  • Discounts on publishing: To lower those costs even further for authors, UC negotiated a 15% discount on the APCs for most Elsevier journals; the discount is 10% for the Cell Press and Lancet families of journals.
  • Full funding support for those who need it: To ensure that all UCLA authors have the opportunity to publish their work open access, UCLA Library will cover the full amount of the APC for those who do not have sufficient research funds for the author share. Authors may also opt out of open access publishing if they wish.

As with UC’s other recent open access agreements, the Elsevier agreement integrates library and author payments into a single, cost-controlled contract. This shared funding model will enable the UCLA Library to reallocate a portion of its journals budget to help subsidize authors’ APCs — assistance that makes it easier and more affordable for UCLA authors to choose to publish open access.

Meanwhile, the university continues to forge partnerships with publishers of all types and sizes. In addition to Elsevier, UC also signed open access agreements with three more not-for-profit and society publishers this month — the Company of Biologists, the Royal Society and Canadian Science Publishing. These agreements are in addition to those secured previously with Springer Nature, Cambridge University Press, society publisher ACM, and native open access publishers PLOS and JMIR.

Read the full announcement

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