While Finland entered into a nationwide consortium with the publishing house Elsevier, the neighbouring country Sweden did not take this step. After twenty years of business relationships with Elsevier, the Bibsam Consortium decided not to renew the agreement with the scientific publisher. Bibsam wants to support the Swedish government’s requirement to publish all scientific output of the country in Open Access by 2026 – without embargoes.
„- Immediate open access to all articles published in Elsevier journals by researchers affiliated to participating organisations – Reading access for participating organisations to all articles in Elsevier’s 1,900 journals – A sustainable price model that enables a transition to open access“
As Elsevier has not offered a model that meets these demands the Bibsam Consortium will not renew the agreements with Elsevier, which end on 30 June. According to openaccess.se Swedish researchers publish about 4 000 articles per year in Elsevier journals an in 2017 € 1,3 million was spent on article processing charges. Additionally € 12 million were spend on licensing fees for reading the Elsevier content.
There is no comprehensive Open Access clause. Elsevier promises to provide „Finnish researches with incentives to publish open access if they so choose. (…) Elsevier and FinELib have initiated an Open Access pilot program that stimulates Finnish researchers to publish their articles open access in Elsevier journals.“
The three-year „contract applies to 13 Finnish universities, 11 research institutions and 11 universities of applied sciences“.
Researchers from these institutions will have „access to around 1,850 journals on Elsevier’s ScienceDirect e-platform“.
The press release quotes Keijo Hämäläinen, Rector at the University of Jyväskylä as follows: „We are pleased with Elsevier taking concrete steps to support our open access goals.“ Unfortunately, in this press release there is no information given on the costs of licensing Elsevier’s content and on the „concrete steps“ regarding Open Access.
FinELib gives a little more insight on his website: „The total value of the license agreement is slightly under 27 M euros. The agreement offers researchers a new opportunity to publish their articles open access with a 50 % discount on article processing charges (APC). This discount is available for all corresponding authors in organisations that are parties to the agreement. The discount is offered for articles published in over 1500 subscription journals and over 100 full open access journals.“ A page in the FinELib Wiki even offers more information: The list of journals covered by this arrangement (see here) includes over 1.500 Elsevier owned hybrid-journals and over 100 Full Open Access Journals. The society-owned titles (like CELL) published by Elsevier are not included. How this list was negotiated could be interesting . A similar list of journals, which was compiled in a comparable deal in the Netherlands, is said not to have been loaded with high-quality journals. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Elsevier will reduce the subscription costs of journals as their Open Access share increases. It should also be noted that Elsevier publishes almost twice as many journals, 2,969: Therefore, Finnish researchers can neither read all Elsevier journals nor publish Open Access in all of them at reduced prices.
Back to Elsevier’s presse release that makes clear how Elsevier wants to make such arrangements attractive: Firstly, it says „Based on Scopus and ScienceDirect data, Finnish research published by Elsevier increased by 37.5 percent between 2011 and 2015 while the total number of Finnish articles published grew by 15.8 percent during that the same period. These numbers demonstrate the value Finnish scientists attach to publishing in Elsevier’s high-quality journals.“ It could also be said that these growth rates are an expression of market concentration and are not owed to the fact that Elsevier is an unrivalled attractive publisher. On the other hand, Gino Ussi, Executive Vice President at Elsevier, is cited: „The average quality of Elsevier’s articles worldwide, as indicated by the citation impact, is 30 percent above market average. This makes publishing in Elsevier journals particularly attractive to Finnish researchers, with whom we’ve had a long-lasting relationship.“
Brief summary: Elsevier has a growing market share (generated by library funds) and highly cited journals (produced by scientists), so it is advisable to sign further contracts with Elsevier.
While in Germany the boycott of the publisher Elsevier which was initiated by the DEAL project continues, an agreement was reached in Finland between Elsevier and the FinElib consortium, but the details are still unclear. The Website NoDealNoReview.org states: „For the time being, the only thing we can say for sure is that Elsevier subscriptions will not be cancelled in the beginning of 2018. (…) We still do not know the exact details of the deal between FinELib and Elsevier have not been disclosed and therefore we cannot comment on whether the deal can be considered satisfactory or not. Ultimately, the decision is naturally up to your own discretion.“
The NoDealNoReview campaign tried to persuade scientists to stop being a reviewer for Elsevier in order to increase the pressure on the publisher and thus achieve a cost-effective consortium agreement. Although the initiative ends with the agreement, scientists are encouraged not to conduct reviews for Elsevier: „Stated aim of No deal, no review boycott was to support FinELib in its negotiations with Elsevier. Therefore the campaign has to end alongside the negotiations. Individual researchers are more than welcome to continue their boycotts. There is ample justification for doing so, as Elsevier remains the leading force of resistance in terms of openness and fair costs.“
With regard to Germany, it would be extremely interesting to know the precise conditions under which the agreement was reached: Did the publisher really give a significant price drop? Did Elsevier enforce his price expectations? Or did FinELib and the publisher simply agree on a armistice where both sides could keep face?
Stockholm University Library has monitored gold and hybrid publication charges (or Article Processing Charges APCs) for Open Access publishing at Stockholm University. The results are published on OpenAccess.se in a short posting by Lisa Lovén and Liisa Hänninen.
The University of Stockholm has spent 2.967.093 Swedish Krona (SEK) between January and August 2017 for APCs. Of this total, 60% were paid for Hybrid Open Access APCs and 40% were paid for Gold Open Access APCs. The data show that these four publishers have received more than half of all paid APCs, 1.662.896 SEK:
Elsevier: 639.054 SEK
Wiley: 583.826 SEK
Frontiers: 234.672 SEK
Nature Publishing Group: 205.344 SEK
By the way, Springer ranks eleventh with 67.857 SEK, behind BioMed Central (74.535 SEK).
Lisa Lovén and Liisa Hänninen comment this as follows (translated by the author of this article): „The results reinforce the image that has been reported so far, both nationally and internationally, and show that the commercial approach of Elsevier and Wiley is top of the league, long before anyone else“
Similar concentration effects can also be found in Germany (see slides 9 to 13 of this presentation), where in 2016 49.59% of the APC payments reported by the OpenAPC project went to Springer Nature, Elsevier, and Wiley. If one considers frontiers as part of Springer Nature, the share increases to 55.5%.
As mentioned several times in this blog the German project DEAL aims to conclude nationwide licensing agreements for the entire portfolio of electronic journals from major academic publishers. DEAL has two distinctive goals: on the one hand, cost savings and, on the other hand, the extension of contracts to include Open Access components that allow scientists at German institutions to publish Open Access in journals of contract partners at no extra charge.
Yesterday DEAL published two interesting press releases:
Progress is reported in the negotiations with Springer Nature: „In order to gain the necessary time for further negotiations on this very complex matter, the two sides agreed a cost-neutral extension of the existing Springer contracts by one year for those organisations whose contracts end on 31 December 2017.“ In other words, DEAL and Springer Nature agreed on a kind of moratorium to continue negotiations on a national consortium. Contracts ending in 2017 will continue to run at no additional cost until an agreement between DEAL and the publisher is reached.
Negotiations with Elsevier, on the other hand, are escalating. As DEAL announced well-known scientists and academics resigned from publishing activities for the publisher and thus support the negotiation goals of the DEAL project: – Prof. Dr. -Ing. Wolfgang Marquardt (Jülich Research Center) – Prof. Dr. Kurt Mehlhorn (Max Planck Institute for Computer Science, Saarbrücken) – Prof. Dr. -Ing. Jörg Raisch (Department of Control Systems, TU Berlin) – Prof. Dr. Marino Zerial (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden) – Prof. Dr. Anton Möslang (Institute for Applied Materials, KIT)
Wolfgang Marquardt: „More and more scientists around the world are working for open access and fair cost models. The arbitrarily high prices put a strain on the acceptance of the division of labour between science and publishing. The academic libraries are increasingly forced to restrict their services. This results in a growing danger for the scientific discourse in the specialist disciplines.“
Kurt Melhorn: „For science, an unrestricted Open Access component is indispensable. This is the only way to ensure that current research results are fully accessible. Publishers must adapt their business models to these possibilities of digital publishing.“
And one more thing about Elsevier: Penn Libraries started the operation beprexit and are documenting their migration planning from Bepress to an open source option for hosting Penn’s institutional repository. The migration is motivated by the acquisition of Bepress by Elsevier. Here is a statement from the beprexit website: „In August, bepress sold their company to Elsevier, a business with a history of aggressive confidentiality agreements, steep price increases, and opaque data mining practices. In their acquisition of bepress and other companies like SSRN and Mendeley, Elsevier demonstrates a move toward the consolidation and monopolization of products and services impacting all areas of the research lifecycle. We are worried about the long-term impacts from these acquisitions and are concerned that such changes are not in the best interests of the library community. Therefore, we feel obligated to begin exploring alternatives.“
Today Elsevier published its vision of Open Access, written by Gemma Hersh, and suggests a route that is neither green nor gold, but a mixture of it, one could say blue Open Access: Articles published by European institutions should be available Gold Open Access within Europe and – if deposited on a repository – Green Open Access outside of Europe. It is also made clear that Elsevier’s Gold Open Access will be expensive.
These are some of the key statements:
As about 80 percent of all journal articles are still published in Closed Access journals, Green Open Access will remain an important Open Access strategy.
Elsevier considers Europe „a region where a transition to fully gold open access is likely to be most cost-neutral“. According to Elsevier this is not the case for „other research-intensive countries such as the US, China and Japan“.
Elsevier suggests that for Europe it would be recommendable to „enable European articles to be available gold open access within Europe and green open access outside of Europe.“ Somehow in the mentioned green-golden mixture.
Referring to a paper of the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) Elsevier continues to explain „that average APCs would need to rise to fund the infrastructure currently paid for via the 80 percent of articles published under the subscription model. In any event, APCs are likely to be higher than they are today even just accounting for inflation and the continuing global growth in research output, which is currently about 4 percent a year.“
Furthermore, funding for global Gold Open Access would also have to replace subscription revenues from commercial enterprises or other non HE-institutions. According to Elsevier, these account for 25% of the income in the Cosed Access model.
Elsevier also emphasizes the transitions costs in a mixed Gold Open Access and Closed Access era: „In a world where more than 80 percent of articles continue to be published under the subscription model, any country that moves to gold open access first would need to pay to broadcast its articles while also continuing to subscribe to the rest of the world’s content published under the subscription model if they want to retain access to articles published elsewhere (and not supported by gold OA).“
The core message of the text summarizes all this and sheds light on the further price development to be expected by Elsevier: „We [Elsevier] believe that the primary reason to transition to gold open access should not be to save money“.
In the context of the DEAL negotiations, 16 of the 18 centers of the Helmholtz Association decided not to sign new contracts with Elsevier beyond the current year.The two remaining Helmholtz centers have contracts with Elsevier that reach beyond the end of the year 2017. You may read the press release here. DEAL aims to conclude nationwide licensing agreements for the entire portfolio of electronic journals from major academic publishers including clauses that allow scientists to publish Open Access in these journals.
Yesterday Elsevier announced the launch of Chemistry Research Network, ChemRN. After the launch of BioRN ChemRN is another spin-off of SSRN, the Social Science Research Network, acquired by Elsevier in 2016. ChemRN will host not only Research Paper Series but also subscription journals. Elsevier announces on the ChemRN website: „Subscribing to any of the Chemistry Research Network’s eJournals provides the most efficient and convenient way to receive the latest research from the world’s foremost researchers. At the organizational level, Site Subscriptions can be customized to meet your faculty’s needs, including number of subscribers and research areas of interest.“
Elsevier’s shopping tour continues. Readers of my blog know that in April I published a provisional and incomplete list of services that are owned by Elsevier. Since then Elsevier launched the Preprint-Server BioRN, based on the infrastructure of the Social Science Research Network SSRN (purchased last year). Yesterday the Dutch publishers announced the acquisition of bepress. Elsevier’s press release depicts bepress as follows: “ Founded by three University of California, Berkeley professors in 1999, bepress allows institutions to collect, organize, preserve and disseminate their intellectual output, including preprints, working papers, journals or specific articles, dissertations, theses, conference proceedings and a wide variety of other data.“ In fact bepress also was used as a hosting software for Open Access repositories.