News about the Elsevier agreement in Finland

ElsevierA few hours ago, Elsevier issued a press release on the agreement with the Finnish consortium FinElib that put an end to the #nodealnoreview boycott. Below you will find some information about it:
  • 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.

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