The University of California is the first American library system to break talks with Elsevier in the name of Open Access.

The desertion of the negotiating table has been communicated by the same University, which acts as a guide for other American universities.

The failure of the negotiations is attributable to the non-integration of the costs for the subscriptions with the costs for the payment of the Article Processing Charge (APC). In a few words, the University of California's proposal consisted on implementing a transformative contract in which the costs sustained by academic institutions for reading were transformed into expenditures for open access publishing.

A complete account of the reasons that led to the termination of the contract and the breaking of the negotiations is available here. The University has also promptly published a guide for its researchers giving indications on how to access Elsevier's contents through other channels such as a direct request to the author, the recovery through services such as the Open Access Button or services offered by libraries, as well as browsing open access repositories.

Also in Europe we are witnessing a series of actions concerning the negotiations with the largest publishers turning out into the termination of the agreements, as in the case of the University of California.

On May 2018, after twenty years of negotiations, the Swedish consortium of University Libraries and Research Institutions - Bibsam, coordinated by the National Library of Sweden, terminated its subscription with Elsevier.

France, Switzerland and Austria are foreseeing to adopt a hard line against Elsevier for the negotiation of their contracts. This has been announced by Bernhard Mittermaier (member of Projekt DEAL and the German negotiating team), who adds: "Everybody is looking at Germany".

Indeed, in Germany the institutions participating in Projekt DEAL have just subscribed a transformative agreement with Wiley, in line with the objectives of the Open Access 2020 initiative. This is a Publish&Read model; authors retain the copyright on their works as well as the possibility of choosing the more appropriate CC-BY license

The main objective of Project DEAL is to negotiate national agreements with the main publishers for the complete e-journals portfolio, aiming at alleviating the financial burden for the subscriptions paid by the single institutions. 

Max Planck, one of the leading research organizations in the world counting 14,000 scientists publishing 12,000 research articles every year, 1,500 of them on Elsevier journals, had already authorized the Max Planck Digital Library to terminate the subscription with Elsevier on its expiry date (December 31, 2018).  

Max Planck thus joined the almost 200 Universities and Research Bodies that in Germany have already cancelled their agreements with Elsevier, confirming their support to Projekt DEAL via the negotiation of transformative agreements as the leading strategy for a large scale transition of the scientific publishing towards Open Access.

The agreement with Wiley is compliant with Plan S and as such its terms and conditions were publicly released on February 18, 2019 and are available here.  

The main points of the agreement may be summarized as follows:

  • The key financial component is the “Publish&Read Fee”. It is relevant only to open access publishing in hybrid journals, and has a set amount that will remain unchanged over the course of the 3-year agreement.
  • The fees for publishing in Gold OA journals are based on Wiley’s list prices, with a 20% discount.
  • Authors no longer pay APCs. The fees for publishing and reading will be sustained by the institutions in proportion to the number of articles published by their authors. Authors simply follow their habitual submission workflows and are prompted to publish open access with a Creative Commons license.
  • The third cost component is the consolidated access fee, i.e. is a one-time fee of Euro 2M which includes the perpetual access rights for archival content from 1997 onwards.
  • The agreement covers the open access publishing of accepted articles whose corresponding authors is affiliated with a publically or privately funded German research institution entitled under Projekt DEAL in Wiley “hybrid” and pure “gold” OA journals.
  • Authors have absolute freedom of selecting the more suitable publishing license with reference to their works. However, by default, they are invited to choose a CC-BY license.

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