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Elsevier negotiations

Elsevier and Leeds

The Elsevier negotiations are extremely important as they are the most prominent publisher the University of Leeds engages with, and receive by far the largest proportion of our subscription expenditure.

The Library spends more with Elsevier to access journals than with any other publisher. In 2020, our annual subscription costs with Elsevier were around £1 million for read-only access to journal articles on Science Direct. We were charged an additional £300,000 for article processing charges to make our research outputs open access.

The “big deal” approach to journal access, where a large number of a publisher’s journals are bundled together into one subscription, is also under increased scrutiny. Above-inflation price rises absorb increasingly larger proportions of library budgets, locking up funds that could be used to better support research and learning, and calls into question the value for money of read-only “big deal” subscriptions. Clinging on to the traditional paywall subscription model and using the prestige of the journals published to leverage larger profits from the public purse can’t continue – we can’t afford it.

Other publishers such as Springer Nature, Sage and Wiley are providing integrated contracts, which cover reading articles and publishing open access at a significantly lower cost per article.

Our involvement in negotiations

The University Librarian, Masud Khokhar, is a member of the Jisc Content Negotiation Strategy Group which sets the strategy for the negotiations with Elsevier.

At a national level we have regular meetings with Jisc. We work closely with regional and national academic and library networks, including the Russell Group, the N8 and Research Libraries UK (RLUK).

We are working closely with the Research and Innovation Board to ensure any proposed deal meets the University’s strategy for a more open research culture.

We are analysing the use of Elsevier journals and the publishing costs of open access payments to inform decision-making as negotiations progress.