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Elsevier negotiation update 11/2/2022

November 2, 2022- At $2.6M per year and an annual 2.5% increase, the Elsevier journal package is the most expensive annual expenditure for the University of Washington (UW) Libraries. For context, the total UW Libraries collections budget for the Seattle campus is approximately $16 million, and we spend about $13 million on ongoing subscriptions. Immediate access to 2,500 Elsevier journal titles published in the current year represent about 15% of the Libraries annual collections budget. Moreover, these high ongoing costs undermine the primary mission of the University of Washington -- the preservation, advancement and dissemination of knowledge.

The Elsevier journal package reinforces the scholarly publishing model based on paywalls and rationing of access, inequitable opportunities for publishing, and excessive pricing and annual price increases that undermines a scholarly ecosystem where the open sharing of knowledge is critical to accelerating change for the public good. In spring 2022, the UW Faculty Senate voted to approve a Class C Resolution expressing its support for UW Libraries’ Principles in Licensing Scholarly Resources focused on the tenets of sustainability, access and equity, and support for scholarship and teaching. These principles guide negotiation priorities and empower the UW Libraries to discontinue negotiations that conflict with these principles. More importantly, the principles clearly articulate our intentions:

“We are shifting spending away from purchasing content from proprietary, closed, for-profit scholarly information providers and increasing investments to create and support community-owned infrastructure and shared digital resources."

The negotiating team, comprised of UW faculty and librarians, began meeting with Elsevier during summer 2022, and communicated the UW Libraries fiscal realities (see Subscription Review 2020-21) and UW faculty contributions as authors of Elsevier articles (see FCUL 10/12 slide 7). The response and proposals received during our negotiations convey a commercial, proprietary, profit-seeking, and unsustainable relationship by Elsevier at the expense of UW.

As a result, the Libraries will be unable to maintain immediate access for all titles in  our current list of 2,500 Elsevier journal titles on ScienceDirect. There is no choice but to begin identifying which journals need to be available for immediate access to meet patient care needs as well as long term use for research, teaching, and learning. The Libraries will continue to provide faculty, students and staff access to published articles through alternative access options such as PubMed Central, Google Scholar, and interlibrary loan -- most requested articles are delivered within a few hours or business days.

The Libraries is collaborating across the UW to review Elsevier journals for alternate access. The University of Washington Board of deans and chancellors (BoDC) or their designee will be providing feedback on behalf of their unit to the Libraries. The Elsevier Alternative Access Review process will be conducted from November 2 to December 9. The current contract expires December 31, 2022.

For questions regarding Elsevier negotiations and alternative access review, please contact: SustainableScholarship@uw.edu.


Denise Pan

Associate Dean for Collections & Content