As we wrote earlier this week, the pressure is mounting on the world’s largest scientific publisher Elseviers. Countries that have set goals for open access to scientific papers see Elsevier as an obstacle, as the publisher won’t allow agree to terms for increased open access. Now the Swedish Bibsam consortium is taking the step to cancel their deal with Elsevier, as the publisher would not agree to the following terms:
- Immediate open access to all articles published in Elsevier journals by researchers affiliated to participating organisations
- Reading access for participating organisations to all articles in Elsevier’s 1,900 journals
- A sustainable price model that enables a transition to open access
The reason that Bibsam has taken this line is that it has become incredibly expensive for higher education institutions to access scientific information generated by tax funded research. At the same time big publishers like Elsevier are making huge profits. Now the aim is to change the scientific communication model, and make more research accessible to a greater number of people at a lower cost rather than subsidize big publishers’ profits. (Elsevier’s profit margin was 36% in 2010, which was higher than Apple, Google, or Amazon posted that year. In 2017 their parent company presented an operating profit of 31.1%.)
“We need to monitor the total cost of publication as we see a tendency towards a rapid increase of costs for both reading and publishing. The current system for scholarly communication must change and our only option is to cancel deals when they don’t meet our demands for a sustainable transition to open access.”
– Astrid Söderbergh Widding, President of Stockholm University & Chairman of the Bibsam consortium steering committee
Other countries including Germany have already cancelled their deals with Elsevier. The current Swedish deal will be cancelled effective June 30th 2018. After that everyone who was part of the deal will still have access to all papers published between January 1st 1995 and July 1st 2018. Access to material published from July 1st 2018 onwards might however be restricted by Elsevier. It is worth noting that they still have not stopped access to new publications in Germany, despite the German deal being cancelled at the beginning of the year. It might still be worth leaving a brief guide to alternative routes of finding scientific papers here.
Sources and further reading:
- Pressrelease från KB 16/5/18: Sverige tar ställning för öppen tillgång – avtalet med Elsevier sägs upp
- Pressreleasen på engelska 16/5/18: Sweden stands up for open access – cancels agreement with Elsevier
- Nature news 4/1/18: Germany vs Elsevier: universities win temporary journal access after refusing to pay fees
- The Guardian, 7/6/17: Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?
Text: Signe Wulund