May 16, 2022

Roundup: University of California Decides Not to Renew Systemwide Contract with Elsevier

Multiple Items below. We plan to update this post as more material becomes available. 


#33 (September 30, 2019)

Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Releases Statement Supporting “University of California Libraries’ Commitment to Barrier-Free Access to Information”

#32 (September 24, 2019)

Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC) Announces Support the University of California’s Push for Open Access to Research

SCELC, the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium, is in the top tier of North American library consortia in licensing revenue, representing 113 member institutions, 223 affiliate institutions, an aggregate student population of approximately 500,000, and more than $200 million in library budgets.

#31 (August 12, 2019)

Crispr Pioneer Among University of California Researchers Boycotting Elsevier (via Chemistry World)

#30 (August 9, 2019)

UC Faculty Members Quit Cell Press Editorial Boards Over Impasse with Publisher (via Science)

#29 (August 7, 2019)

UC Faculty to Elsevier: Restart Negotiations, ot Else (via Berkeley News)

A group of prominent University of California faculty say they will resign from the editorial boards of scientific journals published by Elsevier until the publishing giant agrees to restart negotiations, which stalled in February and left the 10-campus system without subscriptions to some of the world’s top scholarly journals.

#28 (August 2, 2019)

Fact Check: What You May Have Heard About the Dispute Between UC and Elsevier (via Office of Scholarly Communications/U. of California)

#27 (August 1, 2019)

Letter from Elsevier to University of California Board of Regents re: July 17th Academic and Student Affairs Committee Update
4 pages; PDF.

#27 (July 22, 2019)

University of California Battles With Global Publisher Elsevier Over Access To Research (via Capitol Public Radio)

#26 July 17, 2019

Update on Open Access and Academic Journal Contracts: A Presentation to the University of California Board Of Regents’ Academic and Student Affairs Committee

#25 (July 17, 2019)

Guest Commentary by Daniel Marti is Head of Global Public Policy at RELX, the Parent to Elsevier (via Cal Matters)

#24 (July 10, 2019)

University of California’s Direct Access to New Elsevier Articles Has Been Discontinued

#23 (June 27, 2019)

Open Letter to Members of the UC Berkeley Community: “Imminent Change to Elsevier Access Library Communications”

#22 (May 6, 2019)

The University of California and Elsevier: An Interview with Jeff MacKie-Mason (via The Scholarly Kitchen)

#21 (March 2, 2019)

UMass Amherst Libraries Support UC System’s Termination of Elsevier Contract

#20 (April 27, 2019)

LSU Faculty Senate Approves Resolution Recommending Cancellation of Elsevier Journal Package and Moving to “Expedited Document Delivery Services” )

#19 (April 20, 2019)

Resources Shared by Peter Suber During Lamont Library Talk

#18 (April 9, 2019)

Statement from Deans and Directors of Virginia Research Libraries on the University of California System’s Termination of Contract with Elsevier

#17 (April 9, 2019)

Op/Ed: Why You Should Care About the Raging Battle For Free Access to Research Findings (via LA Times)

#16 (April 5, 2019)

Louisiana State University (LSU) Faculty Senate Plans Vote on Resolution that Recommends Cancellation of Elsevier Journal Package, Move to à la Carte Purchase Model

#15 (April 4, 2019)

Interview: New eLife Editor Michael Eisen Comments on U. of California/Elsevier Situation

#14 (March 27, 2019)

The Beginning of the End for the ‘Big Deal’? (via Inside Higher Ed)

#13 (March 20, 2019)

Statement From University Librarian Elaine L. Westbrooks on the UC System’s Termination of Elsevier Subscriptions

#12 (March 20, 2019)

Open Statement From the UC-Elsevier Negotiating Team: “Why UC Cut Ties with Elsevier (via UC Berkeley Library)

#11 (March 18, 2019)

Open Access to Research Remains Focus For UC After End to Elsevier Negotiations (via The Daily Bruin)

#10 (March 15, 2019)

Op-Ed Published in The Daily Californian: “UC Berkeley Must Promote Open Access Publishing of Faculty Research”
Op-Ed written by Don Moore, Lorraine Tyson Mitchell Chair in Leadership and Communication at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Creating Sustainable, Accessible Scholarly Publishing (via U. of Minnesota Libraries)

#9 (March 9, 2019)

Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) and Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Support the University of California in Taking a Bold Stand for Openly Available Research

#8 (March 8, 2019)
Added Radio Report from KCBS and Coverage from Media Post

#7 (March 7, 2019)

UC’s Relationship with Elsevier
Statement by Gregg Camfield, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Merced

Six Things UVA Researchers Need to Know About the UC System Walking Away from Elsevier
by Brandon Butler, U. of Virginia

University of California’s Break with the Biggest Academic Publisher Could Shake Up Scholarly Publishing For Good (via The Conversation)
by MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian and Vice Provost for Digital Scholarship, University of California, Davis

#5 (March 4, 2019)
Following UC’s Break With Elsevier, Messages of Support From Around the World Pour In (via UC Berkeley Library)

#4 (March 4, 2019)
Added to Media Section and College Press Section: “The Real Cost of Knowledge” (via The Atlantic) and “UC Ends Contract with Largest Scientific Publisher in a Push for Open-Access Research” (via The Daily Californian)

#3 (March 1, 2019)
Added Several Media Reports to Media Section

Enough is Enough: UC Leadership and the Transformation of Scholarly Publishing (via Duke University Libraries)

# 2 (March 1, 2019)
Why UC Split With Publishing Giant Elsevier (Interview with UC Berkeley University Librarian and Co-Chair of the UC Negotiation Team, Jeffrey MacKie-Mason)

# 1 (February 28, 2019)
Added Statement from Elsevier (Located at Bottom of this Post)

From the University of California (Full Text):

As a leader in the global movement toward open access to publicly funded research, the University of California is taking a firm stand by deciding not to renew its subscriptions with Elsevier. Despite months of contract negotiations, Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals.

In negotiating with Elsevier, UC aimed to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by ensuring that research produced by UC’s 10 campuses — which accounts for nearly 10 percent of all U.S. publishing output — would be immediately available to the world, without cost to the reader. Under Elsevier’s proposed terms, the publisher would have charged UC authors large publishing fees on top of the university’s multi-million dollar subscription, resulting in much greater cost to the university and much higher profits for Elsevier.

“Knowledge should not be accessible only to those who can pay,” said Robert May, chair of UC’s faculty Academic Senate. “The quest for full open access is essential if we are to truly uphold the mission of this university.” The Academic Senate issued a statement today endorsing UC’s position.

Open access publishing, which makes research freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world, fulfills UC’s mission by transmitting knowledge more broadly and facilitating new discoveries that build on the university’s research and scholarly work. This follows UC’s faculty-driven principles on scholarly communication.

“I fully support our faculty, staff and students in breaking down paywalls that hinder the sharing of groundbreaking research,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “This issue does not just impact UC, but also countless scholars, researchers and scientists across the globe — and we stand with them in their push for full, unfettered access.”

Elsevier is the largest scholarly publisher in the world, disseminating about 18 percent of journal articles produced by UC faculty. The transformative model that UC faculty and libraries are championing would make it easier and more affordable for UC authors to publish in an open access environment.

“Make no mistake: The prices of scientific journals now are so high that not a single university in the U.S. — not the University of California, not Harvard, no institution — can afford to subscribe to them all,” said Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, university librarian and economics professor at UC Berkeley, and co-chair of UC’s negotiation team. “Publishing our scholarship behind a paywall deprives people of the access to and benefits of publicly funded research. That is terrible for society.”

Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC’s reasonable contract terms, which would integrate subscription charges and open access publishing fees, making open access the default for any article by a UC scholar and stabilizing journal costs for the university.

“The university’s, and the world’s, move toward open access has been a long time in the making. Many institutions and countries agree that the current system is both financially unsustainable and ill-suited to the needs of today’s global research enterprise,” said Ivy Anderson, associate executive director of UC’s California Digital Library and co-chair of UC’s negotiation team. “Open access will spur faster and better research — and greater global equity of access to new knowledge.”

See Also: Direct to Complete Statement from University of California Senate (3 pages; PDF)

From a Memo to the UC Berkeley Community Posted on the Library’s Website:

FROM: Paul Alivisatos, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Barbara Spackman, Chair, Academic Senate – Berkeley Division
Jeff MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Professor

RE: Outcome of UC Negotiations with Elsevier

Thursday, February 28, 2019

While we did make progress, particularly in the past few weeks, toward defining a model for open access publishing of UC research, Elsevier was ultimately unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research, as stated in UC’s faculty-driven principles on scholarly communication, while integrating open access publishing fees and subscription fees into a single cost-controlled contract.


While we do not know exactly when, Elsevier is expected to begin limiting UC’s access to new articles through its online platform, ScienceDirect, possibly very soon. This will mean some changes to how UC scholars access certain Elsevier journal articles.

What content will — and won’t — be affected

• What is affected: At some point, Elsevier may begin to turn off UC’s direct access to articles with a 2019 publish date and the backfiles of certain journals (download list). However, open access versions of many of these articles are available. Visit Alternative access to Elsevier articles on the Library’s website for advice on where and how to look. You can also submit a request, and the Library can help you get a copy of the final, published version of an article.

• Most Elsevier articles published in 2018 or earlier will still be accessible via ScienceDirect. Because UC’s prior contracts included permanent access to previously published content, you will still be able to get immediate access to the full text of most articles via Elsevier’s ScienceDirect backfiles, just as you have in the past.

• Open access articles in Elsevier journals are also unaffected. Many authors choose to pay an open access fee (called an article processing charge, or APC) when they publish, so it’s always worth checking to see if the article you’re seeking is available open access from the journal’s website or elsewhere online. Learn more about how to search for open access versions.

• Elsevier e-books and other products licensed by UC (e.g., Compendex, Reaxys) or by UC Berkeley (e.g., Scopus, Mendeley, Embase) are covered under separate contracts and remain available as before.

Direct to Complete Memo (via UC Berkeley Library)

Announcements From More UC Schools (2/28/2019)

Media Coverage

California Tells Elsevier to Take a Hike (via Science)

The Costs of Academic Publishing Are Absurd. The University Of California Is Fighting Back (via Vox)

Demanding Open Access, UC Breaks with World’s Largest Publisher (via Bay Area News Group)
Added March 4, 2019

Elsevier, Will No Longer Order Their Journals (via BoingBoing)

The Real Cost of Knowledge (via The Atlantic)
Added March 4, 2019

Relx Hit as University Of California Cancels $11m Contract (via FT; Subs Only)

U. of California System Cancels Elsevier Subscriptions, Calling Move a Win for Open Access (via COHE) 

UC Drops Elsevier (via Insider Higher Education

UC Terminates its Subscriptions to 2,500 Journals in a Battle Over Copyrights and Access (via LA Times)

University of California Boycotts Elsevier (via The Bookseller)

University of California Boycotts Publishing Giant Elsevier Over Journal Costs and Open Access (via Science)

University of California Break with Elsevier Tipped To Boost ‘Global Revolt’ (via THE)

University Of California Praised For Ending Elsevier Publishing Deal (via Media Post)

University of California System Libraries Break Off Negotiations With Elsevier (via BoingBoing)

With No Open Access Deal, UC Breaks with Elsevier (via The Scientist)

Media Coverage–College Press

Op-Ed Published in The Daily Californian: “UC Berkeley Must Promote Open Access Publishing of Faculty Research”

Open Access to Research Remains Focus For UC After End to Elsevier Negotiations (via The Daily Bruin)

UC Cancels Contract with Online Journal Publisher in Push for Open Access (via The Aggie/UC Davis)

UC Decides Not To Renew Elsevier Subscription After Months of Negotiations (via The Daily Bruin/UCLA)

UC Ends Contract with Largest Scientific Publisher in a Push for Open-Access Research (via The Daily Californian)

UC Terminates Elsevier Subscription in the Push for Open Access (via The Bottom Line)


Alternative Access To Elsevier Articles  (via U. of California Office of Scholarly Communication)
1 page; PDF.

LibGuide: Alternative Access to Elsevier Articles (via UC Irvine)


University of California / Elsevier Negotiations: Announcements and Coverage
Direct links to news reports (Dec 2018-Feb. 2019). Approx. 20 entries.

UC Berkeley Library Elsevier Negotiations Page


Following UC’s Break With Elsevier, Messages of Support From Around the World Pour In

Statement from Elsevier (2/28/2019)

Elsevier has first and foremost the interests of researchers and students at heart. More than 85 percent of UC researchers choose to publish for free, and when they want to publish for a fee, we provide various options for them to do so. We also think the University of California is mistaken in its characterization of Elsevier’s stance. During the negotiations for a contract covering academic publishing and access to academic literature, we have put forward a unique model that supports CDL’s multi-payer open access request. It provides a clear path allowing every researcher to choose to publish for free or open access and provides a scaled path to reduce the costs for each campus library. The proposal also provides every UC student and researcher with access to all journal articles published by Elsevier –articles they download nearly 1 million times every month. It is disappointing that the California Digital Library (CDL) has broken off negotiations unilaterally, but we hope we can bridge this divide with them soon.

Update 2 (March 1, 2019) 
Why UC Split with Publishing Giant Elsevier (Interview with UC Berkeley University Librarian and Co-Chair of the UC Negotiation Team, Jeffrey MacKie-Mason)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.