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 it is expected to be very soon.
UCOP has released a "Fact Check" in response to an opinion piece authored by Elsevier.
UC’s access to Elsevier content has not yet been impacted. For the time being, you can still access Elsevier content via ScienceDirect. In the event where Elsevier discontinues UC’s access to their content, you can use the following methods to access the information you are searching for:
|Method||Delivery Speed||Access to final published version?||Cost to UC Merced/UC|
|Find open access copy||Immediate||Maybe||None|
|Interlibrary Loan or UC-eLinks||3-5 business days||Yes||$/$$|
|Contact the author||Depends on author responsiveness||Maybe||None|
Donald A. Barclay
Deputy University Librarian
Head, Collection Services
In addition, faculty with questions about the Elsevier negotiations are encouraged to contact the UC Merced Library Liaison for their area. On request, a Library Liaison will meet with faculty, staff, or students from your school, ORU, or department to talk about the Elsevier negotiations or any other subject relating to libraries or information resources.
Elsevier, the largest scholarly publisher in the world, accounts for 17 percent of peer-reviewed journal articles worldwide. By leveraging its monopoly power, Elsevier enjoys annual profit margins approaching 40%. In the final year of the most recent contract, the UC Systemwide Libraries spent over $10,000,000 for access to fewer than 2,000 Elsevier journals. This made Elsevier the UC Systemwide Libraries’ most expensive journal contract, representing about 25% of the annual systemwide journals budget. In addition, many campus units subscribe to Elsevier’s non-journal research tools, bringing the total annual systemwide spent on Elsevier content to more than $11.5 million. Upon undertaking negotiations in 2018, UC sought a fair and sustainable price structure. For decades, Elsevier (as well as other journal publishers) have increased subscription costs at rates that often outstrip inflation. Besides seeking to rein in costs, UC was also seeking a new and transformative agreement with Elsevier that would make open access publishing so easy and affordable that open access will become the default for any article published by a UC author. Such an agreement would also have served to prevent Elsevier from double dipping.
Many traditional subscription journals now permit authors the option of paying an article processing charge (APC) to publish their article as open access, a practice that’s come to be called “hybrid” publishing. Elsevier has targeted authors as an added revenue source by strategically prioritizing the expansion of its “author-pays” hybrid model. Yet, because Elsevier does not reduce its subscription fees when an open access fee is paid by an author, Elsevier is effectively charging twice—a.k.a. “double dipping”—for access to its content. In raw numbers, during the same year that the UC Systemwide Libraries were paying over $10,000,000 for access to Elsevier journals, UC authors paid Elsevier an additional $1,000,000 in article publication charges, the bulk of which came out of faculty grant funding. The elimination of double dipping is essential to a fair and sustainable contract between UC and Elsevier.
Negotiations with Elsevier
Impact on Faculty and Researchers
SLASIAC Letter of Support to Provost Brown
UCOP Press Release (February 28, 2019)
Letter to Faculty from Academic Senate (February 28, 2019)
Letter to Faculty from UC Merced University Librarian and Academic Personel (February 28, 2019)
Letter from the Provost (March 4, 2019)
Open Letter from the UC Office of Scholarly Communication (March 20, 2019)
On February 28, 2019, UC Terminated Negotiations with Elsevier