Dutch universities and Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of science journals, have reached a deal over institutional subscriptions that will lead to more academics being able to publish their work on an open access basis.
The new three-year agreement, announced on 10 December, breaks a year-long deadlock over a new subscription deal for all Dutch universities with the Amsterdam-based publisher.
The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) had previously made the unprecedented demand that Elsevier and other publishers allow their academics to make their papers open access for no extra charge.
Sander Dekker, the Dutch minister for education, culture and science, later decreed that 60 per cent of Dutch research articles – of which many appear in Elsevier journals – should be open access by 2019 and 100 per cent by 2024.
Dutch university presidents said any renewal of subscription deals must be dependent on publishers taking steps to realise this goal.
Following the announcement of the new deal, which is due to start in 2016, Dutch universities will now aim to make 30 per cent of their researchers’ publications open access by 2018, said Gerard Meijer, president of Radboud University and chief negotiator for VSNU.
“We are pleased about this agreement as it facilitates a sustainable transition to open access,” said Professor Meijer.
“It gives academics at Dutch universities subscription access to Elsevier journals and allows them to publish open access in a selection of these journals,” he added.
“It’s genuinely good news and a big deal for open access in the Netherlands,” he concluded.
The deal comes amid ongoing discussions over whether traditional science journal publishers can make a transition to a fully open access business model, and concerns over additional subscription charges levied on institutions.
Professor Meijer had previously raised concerns over the profit margins of Elsevier – which he said were “approaching 40 per cent” – above-inflation price rises, and the fact that “universities have to do the [editing] work and pay for it”.
“We aren’t going to accept it any longer,” he told Times Higher Education in January.
Philippe Terheggen, managing director of Elsevier Journals, whose suite of 2,200 publications include Cell and The Lancet, said Elsevier “welcome the agreement as the continued subscription access to a substantial part of the world’s highest-quality, peer-reviewed research is essential to the Netherlands maintaining its position as one of the world’s most impactful research nations”.
“In addition, increased open access publishing options will be available to Dutch researchers to globally share their work,” he added.