May 19, 2022

Journal Article: “Cancelling With the World’s Largest Scholarly Publisher: Lessons From the Swedish Experience of Having No Access to Elsevier”

The following article was published today by Insights.


Cancelling With the World’s Largest Scholarly Publisher: Lessons From the Swedish Experience of Having No Access to Elsevier


Lisa Olsson
Stockholm University Library

Camilla Hertil Lindelöw
National Library of Sweden

Lovisa Österlund
Linköping University Library

Frida Jakobsson
Karolinska Institutet University Library


Insights (Published by UKSG)
331 (1): 13.
DOI: 10.1629/uksg.507


This article covers the consequences of the decision of the Bibsam consortium to cancel its journal licence agreement with Elsevier, the world’s largest scholarly publisher, in 2018.

First, we report on how the cancellation affected Swedish researchers. Second, we describe other consequences of the cancellation. Finally, we report on lessons for the future.

In short, there was no consensus among researchers on how the cancellation affected them or whether the cancellation was positive or negative for them. Just over half (54%) of the 4,221 researchers who responded to a survey indicated that the cancellation had harmed their work, whereas 37% indicated that it had not. Almost half (48%) of the researchers had a negative view of the cancellation, whereas 38% had a positive view.

The cancellation highlighted the ongoing work at research libraries to facilitate the transition to an open access publishing system to more stakeholders in academia than before. It also showed that Swedish vice-chancellors were prepared to suspend subscriptions with a publisher that could not accommodate the needs and requirements of open science. Finally, the cancellation resulted in the signing of a transformative agreement which started on 1 January 2020. If it had not been for the cancellation, the reaching of such an agreement would have been unlikely.

Direct to Full Text Article

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.