The University of California is pushing back against the publishing giant Elsevier over fees and access to research papers. The UC system’s five-year contract expires on December 31 and it has prepared for faculty and students to lose access Elsevier’s journals if they don’t reach an agreement in time.
At stake is both money—the UC system paid almost $11 million for the past year’s subscription—and a chance to reshape the landscape of access to publications. Currently, the UC system pays separately to read articles and provide open access to its research. To change this, the universities are pursuing a “read-and-publish” deal that would allow them to pay both costs at once. This would make their papers freely available immediately upon publication, unlike the current model that, unless authors pay extra, may only provide open access to journal articles after some time.
It’s not clear whether they’ll succeed, but the UC system is a heavyweight in the world of scholarly publications. Inside Higher Ed reports that its 10 campuses account for nearly 10 percent of US research output.
The University of California, Los Angeles, has asked its faculty to help apply the pressure, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. In a letter, a university provost asked faculty to consider holding off on reviewing articles for Elsevier until the negotiations become more favorable and to look for options to publish their research elsewhere, including in open-access journals.
The Chronicle notes that the academic publishing industry is highly profitable, while relying on the unpaid labor of peer reviewers and faculty editors.
Other universities are also pursuing read-and-publish agreements. So far in the US, only MIT has clinched a deal of this type in June with the Royal Society of Chemistry, reports Inside Higher Ed.