Elsevier Making Deals?

South Korean universities have successfully negotiated a better pricing deal from publishing giant Elsevier, according to a report from Science Magazine. This deal comes after a standoff between the consortium of hundreds of institutions and the publisher, where database access contracts were refused due to exorbitant price increases.

Earlier this month as Elsevier threated to cut access to ScienceDirect, a database containing content from over 3,500 academic journals, the two parties came to an agreement of a subscription price hike of between 3.5 and 3.9 percent, instead of the initial 4.5 percent as pushed by Elsevier.

“We want Elsevier to abolish the minimum flat rate system, in which our universities have to pay for digital content that nobody reads,” Lee Chang Won, secretary general of the Korea University & College Library Association, told Science Magazine.

South Korea’s pushback against Elsevier follows the trend of many similar efforts still underway in Germany, including Projekt DEAL. While over 200 German institutions have already canceled their Elsevier subscriptions in protest of skyrocketing prices, the publisher has still not terminated access, looking to continue negations.

Other initiatives to obtain fair prices, such as Finland’s “no deal, no review” effort and the FinELib consortium have seen tangible results. In an Elsevier press release describing a recent agreement, the publishers said, “The three-year contract applies to 13 Finnish universities, 11 research institutions and 11 universities of applied sciences, and grants subscription access to around 1,850 journals on Elsevier’s ScienceDirect e-platform. To support Finland’s goal of transitioning to open access publishing, Elsevier and FinELib have initiated an Open Access pilot program that stimulates Finnish researchers to publish their articles open access in Elsevier journals.”

The deal in Finland guaranteed that Elsevier subscriptions would not be canceled at the beginning of 2018. The details of the deal are still somewhat unknown, causing some parties to question if the agreement was satisfactory. However, it is clear that as institutions unite globally, the power beings to shift from the publisher to the consortiums.

As one of the last independent scientific society publishers, ECS remains committed to the initial vision of its journals: to disseminate science research to the broadest possible audience with the fewest possible barriers. For us, that means no cost to publish and no cost to read the work in ECS journals.

ECS’s Free the Science initiative grew from this vision. Free the Science is ECS’s move toward a future that embraces open science to further advance research in our fields. This is a long-term vision for transformative change in the traditional models of communicating scholarly research.

ECS, a trusted nonprofit led by researchers for researchers, believes that openness democratizes access to the scientific process; to that end, ECS is committed to playing a crucial role in implementing the necessary changes. More openness in our sciences means faster progress and solutions to global challenges in human health and the sustainability of the planet.


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