SCELC Supports the University of California’s Push for Open Access to Research

An Open Letter from the SCELC Board of Directors (Approved September 13, 2019)

LOS ANGELES, CA—SCELC, a California based consortium of 113 private academic and nonprofit research libraries, fully supports the University of California in their decision to not renew their Elsevier subscriptions until a transformative open access agreement can be reached. As North America’s largest publicly funded research university system, UC’s position puts it in the forefront of the global movement to shift the publication of research to open access, placing control of researchers’ output in the hands of its creators. Unsustainable journal subscription price increases have far exceeded the capacity of library budgets, and open access models such as that being negotiated by the UCs offer a long-term viable alternative that benefits both libraries and public access to the research that is often supported by public and grant funds.

California is in a unique position. As the world’s fifth largest economy, with a rich mix of academic institutions that are both public and private, the state is poised to lead the way to new models of publication and support for research, while preserving access to research for libraries of all types. In California SCELC libraries represent nearly all academic institutions that are not part of a state system, and the collective expenditure of SCELC libraries on electronic journal packages from some of the major publishers exceeds aggregate expenditures of the state systems. Consequently, SCELC plays an important economic role in support of future publication models in California, in particular for open access efforts such as those being led by the University of California.

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Elsevier Journal Negotiations

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.

Browser extensions/plug-ins:

  • 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:

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.