January 25, 2022

Universities in Germany and Sweden Lose Access to Elsevier Journals

Two reports.

From The Scientist:

This month, approximately 300 academic institutions in Germany and Sweden lost access to new papers published in Elsevier’s journals due to a standstill in negotiations for nationwide subscription contracts. While Elsevier’s papers remain inaccessible, academics are turning to alternative means of obtaining them, such as using inter-library loan services, emailing authors, finding earlier versions on preprint servers, or buying individual papers.


Germany’s Project DEAL, representing approximately 200 universities and research centers, and the Swedish Bibsam Consortium, which includes 85 institutions, have been in negotiations with Elsevier since 2016. Still without an agreement, Bibsam announced last month that it would not renew its contracts with Elsevier—and when subscriptions lapsed on July 1, academics at Swedish institutions were no longer able to access new articles in the publisher’s journals.

“We never expected that they shouldn’t cut us off,” says Wilhelm Widmark, the library director at Stockholm University and a member of Bibsam’s steering committee. “If we cancelled the contract, of course they should cut us off.”

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From Nature.com

Elsevier’s move to cut off access to some German researchers also provides a test as to whether the scientists can survive without a subscription deal with the mega-publisher, says Ralf Schimmer, director of scientific information at the Max Planck Digital Library in Munich, Germany. “If it comes to hardship and misery, then the negotiators might be forced back to the negotiating table.” His organization provides journal access to the dozens of Max Planck Institutes and their libraries, and its contract with Elsevier finishes at the end of this year.


In May, talks collapsed between Elsevier and the Swedish Bibsam Consortium, which brokers deals on behalf of 85 institutions across the country. Their existing contract expired on 30 June, and some researchers in Sweden have now lost access to all Elsevier journal articles published after this date. Projekt Deal declared on 6 July that it had suspended talks with Elsevier.

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See Also: Germany: Project Deal Suspends Negotiations with Elsevier (July 5, 2018)

See Also: Sweden: Bibsam Consortium Decides Not to Renew Contract with Elsevier (May 16, 2018)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.