“The contract between academic publisher Elsevier and UK Universities is due for renewal in December 2021.”
Abstract: INTRODUCTION This study will explore the issue of pricing opacity associated with prices paid by academic libraries that have recently unbundled from the Elsevier Big Deal journal package. Additionally, this study will provide metrics for assessing the fair market value (FMV) of unbundled journal packages. The pricing metrics will assist academic libraries in negotiations of subscription and open access agreements. METHODS Pricing information was gathered from five academic libraries. The data was analyzed to arrive at two key metrics (adjustment from list price and the average cost per journal) for establishing comparables, i.e., prices paid by similarly sized institutions, to assess the collective FMVs for unbundled Elsevier journal packages. RESULTS & DISCUSSION The study results show that significant variations existed in the way institutions were charged for content. Additionally, the comparables show wide variations among institutions when measured by the overall adjustment from list price and the average cost per journal. CONCLUSION The pricing metrics developed in this study, adjustment from list price (ALP) and average cost per journal (ACJ), will help libraries assess their final net prices for individual journal subscriptions. The results will be useful to administrators, collection development personnel, and negotiating teams in understanding the prices paid by other institutions for unbundled journal packages to determine FMVs.
The background to the negotiations and why they matter.
“Members of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) set bold negotiation objectives for the 2020 renewal with Elsevier: significantly reduce costs, increase open access, and ensure transparency of the agreement. After eleven months of negotiating, CRKN’s Content Strategy Committee (CSC) is announcing a renewal of the Elsevier ScienceDirect license, which includes:
A 12.5% reduction for 2021, followed by a 0% change for 2022, and a 2% increase for 2023. The renewed agreement maintains access to all journals in the Freedom Collection, including former Academic Press journals, and members’ subscribed titles, with no loss of perpetual access rights. This results in cost savings of US$17.4 million over three years (when compared with a three-year contract with anticipated 2% annual increases).
A 20% discount on Article Processing Charges (APCs) for both hybrid and gold open access journals. Cell Press, Lancet, and some other society-owned journals are excluded.
No confidentiality or non-disclosure clause which ensures transparency and allows the terms to be shared….”
“There is, of course, an element of truth to this kind of response. I’m not denying that perverse incentives exist; they obviously do. There’s no question that many aspects of modern scientific culture systematically incentivize antisocial behavior, and I don’t think we can or should pretend otherwise. What I do object to quite strongly is the narrative that scientists are somehow helpless in the face of all these awful incentives—that we can’t possibly be expected to take any course of action that has any potential, however small, to impede our own career development.
“I would publish in open access journals,” your friendly neighborhood scientist will say. “But those have a lower impact factor, and I’m up for tenure in three years.” …
It’s also aggravating on an intellectual level, because the argument that we’re all being egregiously and continuously screwed over by The Incentives is just not that good. I think there are a lot of reasons why researchers should be very hesitant to invoke The Incentives as a justification for why any of us behave the way we do. I’ll give nine of them here, but I imagine there are probably others….”
“The Texas Library Coalition for United Action (TLCUA) negotiations with academic publisher Elsevier that cover UH Libraries journal subscriptions and access to journal content are ongoing. We’ve seen progress on some issues and believe we are getting close to a final offer.
At the heart of the negotiations are three key issues:
Sustainable pricing models while maintaining title access
Journal pricing has been unsustainable for some time. The Coalition is trying to maintain as much access to currently subscribed titles as possible while significantly reducing overall expenditures.
Copyright retention/reversion for authors
Authors are often expected to sign over their copyright as part of the agreement with the publisher, which can impede how authors are able to re-use or re-publish their work in the future. The Coalition believes that ownership matters and that this must change; Elsevier has indicated a willingness to engage creatively on this topic.
Post-termination access to subscribed content
Post-termination access is the ability to access prior years’ content from subscribed journals in the future, regardless of the current status of the subscription. Much like with a print journal, where we can keep copies available to library users even after ending a subscription, we want to be able to retain access to journal articles that we subscribed to electronically after the subscription ends. We believe PTA is important to the preservation of knowledge and the creation of new scholarship….”
“This month, 157 UK universities started negotiations with Elsevier, the world’s largest academic publisher. In these negotiations, universities, on behalf of their researchers and students, have two core objectives: to reduce costs to levels they can sustain, and to provide full and immediate open access to UK research….
Jisc is supporting the negotiations and has spent the past nine months consulting with each of the 157 institutions involved. My fellow library directors and I have made it clear that the sector wants an agreement with Elsevier that supports full and immediate open access to research, and that reduces expenditure with Elsevier to levels universities can sustain, with a competitive cost per article.
This isn’t going to be easy to achieve. We are a very diverse consortium, and large-scale, multi-institution transformative agreements are notoriously complex. However, we want to make things easier for our academics and make the transition to open access as smooth as possible. …
“The OA2020 Community of Practice was established to expand the shared knowledge and implementation of OA (open access) and transformative agreement principles and mechanisms.
The number of new open access and transformative agreements is rapidly growing, yet an understanding of how they work is far from universal. Mutual exchanges of ideas, tactics, and a deeper knowledge of the current and potential models will foster opportunities for open access publishing on a larger scale.
Experienced OA and transformative agreement pioneers share their experiences and approaches and collaboratively address emerging issues and models. Collectively, the Community discusses such topics as the importance of data analysis in agreements, faculty and institutional buy-in, and the impact of shifting funding models and workflows into open access….”
“Negotiations are a particularly challenging area for collaboration among libraries. Driven by the prevalence of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and confidentiality clauses, the culture of information sharing outside of consortial arrangements is not a ready tendency by academic librarians, despite some notable exceptions1. The perception of potential antitrust concerns chilled discussions about negotiation strategy and tactics, and large publishers continue to exploit this asymmetrical information environment aggressively. Even before the current COVID crisis, many libraries reached a breaking point in the serials cost increases that their budgets could no longer bear. These challenges around effective collaboration drove the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to work with our members and the wider library community over the past two years to develop a journal negotiation community of practice. Initially focused on supporting libraries exploring cancelling their Big Deals, the community of practice quickly expanded to include negotiations more broadly, reflecting the need to better align the remaining publisher contracts with library needs and values and to better support libraries in this work. The Journal Negotiation Community of Practice has become a platform for dialog, sharing data and best practices, and creative problem solving. SPARC’s role is focused on both community building and catalyzing discussions as well as disseminating resources produced by these discussions. We work to create a welcoming environment for librarians to share both their questions and their experiences and to provide support by building tools to share actionable, on-demand information about both negotiating subscription packages and walking away from these packages altogether….”
“NERL members are among the most prestigious and productive research institutions in the United States, with researchers at NERL-affiliated institutions producing an estimated 10-12% of the most important and impactful scholarship in the world. We are committed to leveraging our influence to achieve global sustainability, parity, and access in scholarly publishing. Ensuring a sustainable ecosystem for scholarly communications is crucial across our institutions for impact, access, and preservation. When we say we demand a better deal, we mean more than a good price. In keeping with NERL’s support for The MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts, we are committed to contracts that allow for maximum flexibility and options for researchers. As partners in the scholarly communication ecosystem, publishers and libraries share in the challenges of unprecedented health and economic crises, and our shared priority must be opening access to scholarship as our best way of supporting solutions to those crises….”