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UC-Elsevier Negotiations

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 published a press release and the Academic Senate has published a letter to faculty supporting UC's position regarding the Elsevier negotiations. 

UCOP has released a "Fact Check" in response to an opinion piece authored by Elsevier.


Alternative Access

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


*If your new request requires rush processing or if you have questions regarding article availability, contact UC Merced Library Interlibrary Loan by emailing


What Content Will and Won't Be Affected

  • Most Elsevier articles published in 2018 or earlier will still be accessible via ScienceDirect. Because UC’s prior contracts included permanent access to previously published content, you will still be able to get immediate access to the full text of most articles via Elsevier’s ScienceDirect backfiles, just as you have in the past (download list).
  • Open access articles in Elsevier journals are also unaffected. Many authors choose to pay an open access fee (called an article-processing charge, or APC) when they publish, so it’s always worth checking to see if the article you’re seeking is available open access from the journal’s website or elsewhere online (click here for tips on how to search for open access versions).
  • Elsevier e-books and other products licensed by UC (e.g., Compendex, Reaxys) are covered under separate contracts and remain available as before.
  • Elsevier may begin to turn off UC’s direct access to articles with a 2019 publish date and the backfiles of certain journals (download list).


Science Direct

Elsevier articles published before 2019: Science Direct provides direct access to full text.
Elsevier articles published from 2019 and thereafter: Use Science Direct to submit an ILL request.


Next Steps

Please consider:


For any additional questions, please feel free to contact:

Haipeng Li
University Librarian

Donald A. Barclay
Deputy University Librarian

Jim Dooley
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.

What Is 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.


UC Libraries Journal Negotiations: FAQ & Documents

Open Access
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)


UC-Elsevier Negotiations in the News

On February 28, 2019, UC Terminated Negotiations with Elsevier