UC Berkeley’s fall semester is here. Catch up on the latest Elsevier news.

Now that you’re back, there’s something we need to talk about: Elsevier. And a lot has happened while you were gone.

Let’s catch you up to speed, whether you want the latest, need a refresher, or missed the news altogether.

What’s the latest?

Recently, more than 30 high-profile University of California faculty, including gene-editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna, announced in a letter they are suspending their editorial duties to Elsevier journals until a new contract is signed. In addition, at least two petitions online — on Change.org and MoveOn.org — have garnered more than a thousand signatures from around the world in support of UC’s efforts to transform the scholarly publishing industry. An earlier petition protesting Elsevier’s business practices has collected more than 17,000 signatures. (All of these are faculty-led efforts.)  

In July, UC’s Academic Council released a statement affirming support of UC’s negotiating position with Elsevier and urging people across UC to forgo entering subscriptions with the publisher while talks are stalled. With this act of solidarity, the letter states, “UC can help change the system of scholarly communication for the betterment of all.”

Back up. How did we get here?

In July 2018, UC began negotiating its subscription contract with Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific publisher.

UC’s goal? To constrain the ever-increasing journal prices and to provide default open access publishing of UC research. Meaning: Unless an author requests otherwise, the results of taxpayer-funded UC research would be made free and accessible to everyone.

Those talks were extended after the contract lapsed at the end of 2018. In February of this year, UC made waves by ending its subscription agreement with Elsevier, with the publisher unwilling to meet UC on its cost-cutting and open access goals.

Without a contract, Elsevier shut off UC’s direct access to new articles (that is, those published in 2019 and the backfiles of some journals) this summer.

How does the shutoff affect me?

Elsevier may have suspended direct access to some of its articles, but the Library is helping connect patrons with the materials they need, using everything from Google Scholar to interlibrary borrowing. (Note: It could take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days to secure materials requested through interlibrary borrowing.) Check out our video to learn how to access Elsevier articles, and read answers to more of your pressing questions.

Still have questions? Email scholarly-resources@lists.berkeley.edu.

What’s next?

UC has inked an open access deal with Cambridge University Press and is looking to enter more transformative agreements that would make the results of taxpayer-funded UC research freely available to everyone. (Authors, learn more here.)

In the meantime, UC is hoping to re-enter talks if Elsevier is willing to help UC achieve its goals.

Want to know more? Stay up to date on UC-Elsevier news here.