Important contract negotiations with Elsevier

May 9, 2022

9 May 2022

Dear OSU Community Members,

OSU Libraries and Press, working together with librarians from the University of Oregon and Portland State University, will initiate negotiations next week with Elsevier, a global provider of information and analytics for educators, researchers and health care professionals that has served the university over the past decade.

This will be OSU’s first major re-negotiation of terms with Elsevier since 2014. OSU Libraries is seeking a contract that will reduce costs by 50% with no corresponding loss of access. This is an aggressive position, but one that reflects important current realities within the academic publishing market:

  • More than 50% of the academic publishing market is controlled by five major for-profit publishers: Springer Nature, Wiley, Sage, Taylor and Francis, and Elsevier.
  • Publishers bundle high-impact journals with less useful titles and justify frequent and significant price increases by adding titles not sought by libraries and researchers.
  • A growing percentage of scholarly content is available without cost through open access to electronic resources, but journal prices continue to increase. For example, 25% of the journals included in Elsevier’s Science Direct product are fully available through open access.
  • These same publishers charge researchers substantial fees to publish content within open access. Between 2015 and 2020, OSU researchers and co-authors paid more than $1 million in open access fees to subscription journals that OSU Libraries then had to pay for again.

In the last few years, some major university systems and consortia have been able to negotiate terms and conditions with for-profit publishers that lay the groundwork for a more open and sustainable future for scholarly publishing. While these successes are notable, these publishers have not shown a willingness to make meaningful changes to their unsustainable purchasing model. Without those changes, OSU cannot continue to invest in a system designed to prioritize the profits of for-profit publishers, including with Elsevier, the world’s most profitable scholarly publisher.


In 2019, I asked a group of faculty to engage the OSU community in discussions about sustainable access to scholarly communication. Building on these discussions, the Open and Sustainable Scholarly Communication group has developed a set of draft principles to guide OSU librarians as they negotiate with scholarly publishers. These principles outline the commitments we need to provide a sustainable future for library journal collections. The work group presented this draft to the Faculty Senate on March 10 and will return to the Senate on May 12 to seek a resolution endorsing these principles.


OSU’s current contract with Elsevier ends Dec. 31, 2022. If the libraries cannot come to an equitable and sustainable agreement by that time, OSU will join a growing number of institutions that have stopped or significantly reduced their spending with Elsevier.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.



Edward Feser

Provost and Executive Vice President