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UC Not Renewing Elsevier Contract

The University of California has opted to not renew its subscription with the scientific publisher Elsevier, according a statement from the school system.

UC and Elsevier have been in contract renewal negotiations, and UC has been seeking to change its payment scheme. In December, Insider Higher Ed reported that UC preferred a "read-and-publish" contract in which journal subscription and open-access publishing fees are combined. Also at that time, Stat News noted that UC had been paying Elsevier more than $10 million a year for access to hundreds of Elsevier journals, while UC researchers also paid about $1 million to make their work open-access. Elsevier, meanwhile, said then that its current model was popular and that it did not want to change it.

UC says its decision to terminate its Elsevier subscription supports the global open-access movement. "The prices of scientific journals now are so high that not a single university in the US — not the University of California, not Harvard, no institution — can afford to subscribe to them all," UC Berkeley's Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, who co-chaired the UC negotiation team, says in a statement. "Publishing our scholarship behind a paywall deprives people of the access to and benefits of publicly funded research."

According to Stat News, an Elsevier official sent a letter to UC-based editors of its journals that said it offered "a clear path that allows every researcher to choose to publish for free or open access and provides a scaled path to reduce the costs for each campus library."

Elsevier has also been in talks with libraries in Germany, Hungary, and Sweden about their subscription deals, though Nature News reported in early February that those appeared to have stalled. Germany's Project DEAL, though, has negotiated a new contract with the publisher Wiley.