Elsevier Negotiations

TO:                  UC Riverside Community

FROM:            Steven Mandeville-Gamble, University Librarian

DATE:             Thursday, February 28, 2019

RE:                  Outcome of UC Negotiations with Elsevier

I write to you today to share the outcome of the University of California’s negotiations to renew its systemwide license with scholarly journal publisher Elsevier, which have been underway for many months.

What’s happening

While we did make progress, particularly in the past few weeks, toward defining a model for open access publishing of UC research, Elsevier was ultimately unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research, as stated in the Academic Senate’s principles on scholarly communication, while integrating open access publishing fees and subscription fees into a single cost-controlled contract. These twin goals had been jointly articulated and endorsed by the systemwide Academic Senate, the Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC), and the Council of University Librarians.

The Academic Senate today also expressed its support for UC’s position with regard to the Elsevier negotiations.

In the end, cost, in particular, proved to be an insurmountable challenge. For example, Elsevier’s most recent proposal did not include any cap on the total amount UC faculty could end up paying in article publishing fees. Their model also would not have allowed us to fully subsidize article fees for authors who lack the funds themselves. To meet UC’s goal of open access publication for all UC authors, Elsevier would have charged authors over $10 million per year in addition to the libraries’ current multi-million dollar subscription. The university is not willing to accept a deal that increases Elsevier’s profits at the expense of our faculty. As a result, UC has announced that it will not be signing a new contract with Elsevier at this time.

While we do not know exactly when, Elsevier is expected to begin limiting UC’s access to new articles through its online platform, ScienceDirect, possibly very soon. This will mean some changes to how UC scholars access certain Elsevier journal articles.

What content will — and won’t — be affected

If you use Elsevier articles in your research, here are the most important things to know:

  • Most Elsevier articles published in 2018 or earlier will still be accessible via ScienceDirect. Because UC’s prior contracts included permanent access to previously published content, you will still be able to get immediate access to the full text of most articles via Elsevier’s ScienceDirect backfiles, just as you have in the past.
  • Open access articles in Elsevier journals are also unaffected. Many authors choose to pay an open access fee (called an article processing charge, or APC) when they publish, so it’s always worth checking to see if the article you’re seeking is available open access from the journal’s website or elsewhere online (click here for tips on how to search for open access versions).
  • Elsevier e-books and other products licensed by UC such as Netter’s green books and the Reaxys and Inspec (through Engineering Village) databases are covered under separate contracts and remain available as before.
  • What is affected: At some point, Elsevier may begin to turn off UC’s direct access to articles with a 2019 publish date and the backfiles of certain journals (download list).
  • Alternative access options to the affected articles will be available, including *expedited* document delivery: see UCR’s Alternative Access to Articles webpage for more information.

If you are having trouble accessing a particular article, please contact a UCR Collection Strategist.

Interested in updates?

Find the latest information on the Office of Scholarly Communications website.

If you have any general questions,  please don’t hesitate to contact Tiffany Moxham, Assistant University Librarian for Content and Discovery ( at any time.