17 November 2022
OSU’s librarians, together with colleagues from the University of Oregon and Portland State University, have been working for several months to negotiate their respective contracts with Elsevier, one of the world’s most profitable scholarly information providers. I’m writing to provide an update on the status of those negotiations.
Upon the recommendation of the negotiations team, OSU is suspending negotiations for the remainder of this year. This means that as of January 1, 2023, OSU will no longer have immediate subscription access to Elsevier journals. We will take this action for the reasons outlined below. My provost and executive vice president colleagues at UO and PSU have each indicated they are taking similar action and will no longer have immediate subscription access to Elsevier journals at the new year for similar reasons.
The cost of access to Elsevier’s journals package is the OSU Libraries’ single largest annual expenditure, representing almost 22 percent of the annual collections budget. Prices increase significantly every year for reasons that are unclear given general inflationary trends and shifts in publishing practices, including the increasing prevalence of open scholarship. The pace of such price increases is the natural consequence of a business model that restricts access to research, reinforces inequities in scholarly publishing, and undermines the mission of public research universities to create, share and apply knowledge for the betterment of humankind.
Recognizing these realities, I asked a group of faculty members to engage the OSU community in discussions about sustainable access to scholarly communication. This group produced OSU’s Principles Guiding Negotiations with Journal Vendors at Oregon State University. In May of 2022, the OSU Faculty Senate overwhelmingly approved a resolution endorsing these principles and affirming the faculty’s “commitment to ensuring sustainable and affordable access to scholarly communication.”
Guided by these principles, our librarians have worked with their colleagues on the negotiation team to encourage Elsevier to accept terms and conditions that would lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future. Such terms and conditions include:
- Transparent and fair product pricing that appropriately reflects an ongoing shift to open publishing and data sharing.
- Respect for the rights of authors to retain reasonable rights to share and preserve their own published works, including support for the immediate deposit of accepted manuscripts into appropriate institutional or disciplinary repositories.
To date, Elsevier’s counterproposals have not come close to addressing these reasonable provisions. The company has been slow to respond to requests for information and has repeatedly postponed and rescheduled negotiation sessions. In the face of these realities, OSU finds that further negotiations this year will not be productive and will pause negotiations for the rest of this year.
What does this mean for OSU students and employees?
- Our current contract with Elsevier will end on December 31, 2022. At that time, and until any new agreement is reached, OSU will no longer have immediate, subscription access to Elsevier journals.
- OSU librarians will immediately deploy new tools to facilitate OSU faculty and students’ ability to access Elsevier content at the article level. Some of these measures will strengthen the library’s already outstanding Interlibrary Loan service, and others will allow the library to purchase articles directly.
- OSU librarians will continue to develop tools to help OSU researchers discover and access open access content, which for some Elsevier journals includes more than 70% of newly published content.
- OSU researchers may still publish their work in Elsevier journals or review content in Elsevier journals; these activities are unaffected.
- Our librarians will monitor the impact of this action and provide periodic updates to OSU community.
The OSU Libraries will be sending an additional communication sharing options for accessing Elsevier content, links to more information, and opportunities for you to offer input and advice.
Provost and Executive Vice President