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.

Finnish consortium FinELib reaches agreement with Elsevier

ElsevierWhile 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?

The next Elsevier boycott: News on DEAL, Springer Nature & Elsevier

Project DEALAs 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)

    The German Rector’s Conference cites some of the scientists on its website (translated by the author of this posting):

    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.“

    A similar boycott, led by recognized mathematicians, was launched as early as 2012. If one ignores the damage to the publisher’s image caused, however, it did not have any consequences.

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.“