UK hails ‘significant savings’ as Elsevier open access deal struck

Deal includes prestigious Cell Press and Lancet journals

March 23, 2022
Signing agreement
Source: iStock

UK universities have signed their first open access deal with Elsevier, hailing “significant savings” on sector spend with the world’s biggest academic publisher.

The three-year agreement, bankrolling unlimited free-to-read publishing and access to subscription journals, was struck after the publisher agreed to cut the cost of its previous £50 million-a-year agreement.

Seven previous offers from Elsevier had been rebuffed. The terms of the agreed deal were not immediately available but Times Higher Education previously reported that UK institutions managed to obtain a slightly larger discount – about 10 per cent – to that obtained by the University of California, which said it had secured a 7 per cent reduction in costs, allowing for inflation, when it struck an open access deal last year.

The deal includes access to open access options in the Cell Press and Lancet families of journals.

Liam Earney, managing director of higher education and research at Jisc, which handled negotiations on behalf of UK universities, said the agreement “meets all the core requirements of the sector”.

“This is the world’s largest open access agreement with Elsevier and is unique both in the level of savings and the access it delivers and is a major step in the transition towards full, equitable and affordable transition to open scholarship,” he said.

“The agreement provides unlimited and immediate open access to Elsevier ScienceDirect’s publications, as well as significant savings on total sector spend.”

Mr Earney said the deal meant that, once the sector’s other open access agreements were included, 80 per cent of UK research could now be made freely available at no cost to authors.

The UK’s previous deal with Elsevier expired at the end of 2021, and UK universities had undertaken “no deal” planning to ensure continued access to journal articles in the event that the publisher pulled the plug.

In a statement, university representative bodies said that the agreement “meets the challenging objectives set out by the sector at the start of the negotiations”.

“Open access to research has never been more important and we seek to build on our collective success in these negotiations to push for greater transparency and to challenge other major suppliers to deliver greater value to UK institutions,” the representative bodies said.

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