June 2020 update on the University of California negotiations with Reed-Elsevier publishing
June 16, 2020

UC’s negotiating team continues to communicate with Elsevier.

While progress remains slow, there are a number of recent developments that we hope may give fresh impetus to these discussions:

COVID-19

As a recent Los Angeles Times column laid out, the need for access to research has never been clearer. In fact, many publishers, including Elsevier, have temporarily made coronavirus-related articles freely available. Pandemic-related budget crunches may also pressure publishers to moderate financial demands.

Federal policy

The Office of Science and Technology Policy is considering a zero-embargo policy for the author’s final manuscript for all federally funded research — a change strongly supported by UC’s faculty Senate and that, if adopted, would further incentivize publishers to accelerate their shift towards open access.

Actions by other institutions

UNC-Chapel Hill, Iowa State University and the SUNY (State University of New York) system all recently ended their “big deal” subscription packages with Elsevier. As the head of UNC’s university library wrote: “UC helped to expose the runaway journal costs that are breaking university and library budgets everywhere [and] the need to increase open access to research, rather than locking it behind steep and rising paywalls.”

---

Meanwhile, the feedback we received from faculty, students and researchers earlier this year confirmed that, while researchers are feeling the impact of UC’s lack of an Elsevier contract — particularly in the health and life sciences — the majority both systemwide and here at UC Riverside remain supportive of UC’s position.

While we don’t yet know what form the final resolution with Elsevier will take, UC remains committed to getting closure and finding a path forward in the coming months.