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UK rejects Elsevier offer

UUK and Jisc seek a new proposal to meet the sector’s requirements for a read-and-publish deal.

Negotiations for a new read-and-publish agreement between UK Universities and the publisher Elsevier started in March 2021, led by the sector and facilitated by Jisc. Universities, on behalf of their researchers and students, have two main objectives:

  • to reduce costs to sustainable levels
  • to provide full and immediate open access to UK research.

After several rounds of negotiations, Elsevier made an offer for a read-and-publish deal to the sector.

The Russell Group, together with the University Alliance, Million Plus and GuildHE, has supported the recommendation from UUK and Jisc to reject the latest proposal from Elsevier, and to seek a new proposal that meets the agreed negotiation objectives.

The objective is to agree a comprehensive deal that does not split the sector and makes read-and-publish options available across the sector at a sustainable price.

At Leeds we believe it is vital that the deal negotiated with Elsevier makes read-and-publish access to Elsevier content affordable for institutions across the sector.

Masud Khokhar, University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection

This proposal does not meet the sector's requirements for the following reasons:

  • The sector seeks a 15% reduction in overall payments (subscriptions and article processing charges) to Elsevier. The UK HE sector currently pays Elsevier £43M in subscription fees and £8M in article processing charges a year. The proposal delivers a reduction overall of 3.1%.
  • The proposal is split into 3 packages: Core (reduction of 8.3%); The Cell Press (increase of 43%); The Lancet (increase of 183%).
  • The proposal sets up the Cell Press and The Lancet titles as premium titles, re-basing these titles at a higher price.
  • Institutions that don't take Cell Press and The Lancet titles will be excluded from publishing in these titles.

The existing contract with Elsevier ends on Friday 31 December. Elsevier are expected to respond to the rejection of their proposal in November.

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

“At Leeds we believe it is vital that the deal negotiated with Elsevier makes read-and-publish access to Elsevier content affordable for institutions across the sector. As a sector we have a powerful voice, and together we need to press for a sustainable way to make research outputs openly accessible."

The Library is actively working with other education institutions towards successful negotiations with Elsevier. However, a Plan B is being prepared in case a deal is not agreed, negotiations breakdown, and future Elsevier journal articles are not available through ScienceDirect.

Read more about the Elsevier negotiations and about Plan B for access to articles if there is no deal.

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