By Dawn Setzer on Dec 3, 2018
First published here.
The UC Libraries are currently negotiating a new journal contract with the scholarly journal publishing giant Elsevier. Elsevier has earned international criticism for profit margins of close to forty percent, which far exceed inflation, and for its opposition to open access except in its own open access journals.
In 2017 UC paid Elsevier more than $10 million for access to not quite two thousand journals, and UC authors paid nearly $1 million on top of that in article publishing fees for open access or hybrid journals. In addition, many campus units subscribe to Elsevier’s non-journal research tools, bringing the total systemwide spend to more than $11.5 million.
In a larger sense, UC is paying even more. Countless UC faculty members and researchers publish in Elsevier journals, review manuscripts for those journals, or serve on the journals’ editorial boards. The company is making its almost forty percent profit margins off these individuals’ intellectual capital and uncompensated work.
Action Steps for Faculty, Researchers, and Staff
While these negotiations are going on, please consider:
- Declining to review articles for Elsevier journals until negotiations are clearly moving in a productive direction.
- Looking at other journal publishing options, including prestigious open access journals in your discipline.
- Contacting the publisher, if you’re on the editorial board of an Elsevier journal, and letting them know that you share the negotiators’ concerns.
- Using UC’s open access policies to make your final pre-publication manuscript publicly accessible.
Alternative Access Methods and Additional Resources
To access articles in journals that the UCLA Library does not subscribe to or open monographs the Library doesn’t own, consider one of the following options.
- Open Access Button: Plug in an article’s URL, DOI, title, or other information to find free, legal, open access versions. Clicking on the Chrome and Firefox extensions’ button from a paywalled article initiates a search for that article and, where available, instantly delivers free access. When free access is not found, the service can contact the corresponding directly to help them make a self-archived version available.
- Unpaywall: This service provides an open, legal database of millions of free scholarly articles, harvested from more than 50,000 publishers and institutional repositories. Its Chrome/Firefox browser extension connects to open access versions of articles on publisher websites, and it integrates with tools like UC-eLinks and Web of Science.
Open repositories containing articles, books, or both:
- UC eScholarship: postprints, working papers, monographs, electronic theses and dissertations, student capstone projects, and seminar/conference proceedings by UC-affiliated authors
- HathiTrust: more than sixteen million digitized volumes, more than six million of which are in the public domain
- Digital Public Library of America: content including photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and more available in digital format
- Directory of Open Access Books: more than 13,000 peer-reviewed academic books and chapters
- Directory of Open Access Journals: more than 12,000 journals, with more than 9,000 searchable at the article level
- Directory of Open Access Repositories: global directory of academic open access repositories
- Project Gutenberg: nearly 6,000 free ebooks
- PubMed Central: full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature
Subject-specific repositories and collections of scholarly articles publicly shared before peer review and publication:
UCLA Library or UC Libraries services that can obtain closed content as well as link to open content:
- Interlibrary loan: The UCLA Library will obtain items from other libraries at user request.
- UC-eLinks: Users can request items held by other UC campuses or seamlessly access content at the point of discovery.
For more information or further assistance, contact your UCLA Library subject librarian.