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Elsevier ScienceDirect negotiations

The Library subscribes to a rich collection of digital resources which are essential to support the research, teaching and learning needs of the University community. The largest of these subscriptions is with Elsevier and was due for renewal in December 2021.

23 March 2022 update

UK Universities, following extensive consultation, have unanimously accepted Elsevier’s seventh proposal, which meets the challenging negotiation requirements set by the sector.

The proposal reduces the total sector spend by £14m (27%), by providing a 15% reduction on subscription spend to all universities, as well as removing £7.2m of expenditure on open access (OA) publishing charges. At a total cost of £38.6m, the proposal will enable unlimited and immediate open access publishing in Elsevier’s subscription journals, including the Lancet and Cell Press titles (to date these have been dealt with separately in deals struck internationally). The agreement maintains access to paywalled content without foregoing any associated rights. Separately, the agreement also provides a 15% reduction and price cap on publishing in Elsevier’s fully open access journals. 

Not only is the agreement with UK universities the world’s largest open access agreement, it is unique in the level of savings and open access coverage. Alongside our other OA agreements this will mean that around 80% of UK research output can be published open access (versus a global average of 30%). Benchmarked against agreements achieved in other countries, the UK Elsevier agreement is the only agreement to provide cost reductions at this level, whilst enabling unlimited OA publishing in Elsevier’s subscription journals including the Cell Press and Lancet titles. 

Taking this agreement with Elsevier is just the beginning, and during the life of the deal we expect to address the concerns we shared during the negotiations. These relate to the lack of clarity on Elsevier’s position on rights retention; and the lack of transparency of article-level costs. This lack of cost transparency, including annual deal increases and possible Article Processing Charge (APC) increases for newer journals, increases the challenge for institutions to constrain costs and support strategic reallocation of funds from subscription to OA publishing.

Find out more:

Transitional agreements

Graphic of the UK

As part of our long-term commitment to open access publishing, the Library has signed up to an increasing number of transitional agreements with academic publishers. These agreements gradually convert our subscription costs to support open access publishing whilst maintaining access to paywalled content:

Driving this change is a requirement from most major research funders that grant-holders provide open access to the outputs of their research and not share their work behind expensive subscription paywalls.

Hybrid Open Access statement

To limit our overall open access publishing costs, and to support the long-term transition to predominantly open access publishing models, the University no longer pays open access charges outside of transitional deals.