On behalf of UK institutions, Jisc Collections has signed an agreement with Elsevier, covering access to research publications. The five-year, opt-in agreement offers subscription access to around 2,116 journals on Elsevier’s ScienceDirect online platform.
The agreement comes as a result of over 18 months of considerable consultation across the 160 participating institutions (and the bodies that represent them). The agreement has raised several questions, so here are some answers to the more common ones.
The basics of the deal
- It is an opt-in agreement with price rises capped at a lower rate per annum than currently in place
- The agreement is for five years with an economic opt-out clause after three years, should a subscribing institution see a material decline in budget
- The agreement includes the opportunity for the consortium to migrate from historical print spend and reallocate costs
- A separate agreement is currently being negotiated with Elsevier which will assist institutions in implementing the requirements of green open access
- A separate prepayment scheme agreement offering a 10% discount on article processing charges will be made available
- We have secured some important improvements on the existing agreement: The terminology concerning post-cancellation access rights is clearer, and the provisions for usage and text & data mining more permissive
- Although we did not succeed in achieving full transparency over the financial aspects of the deal, for the first time Jisc has the right to say publically how much the sector as a whole spends on the Elsevier agreement
With over 160 subscribing institutions, nearly £40m of expenditure, access to around 2,000 journals and at least 65 million downloads, the Elsevier ScienceDirect agreement is the largest journal agreement in the UK and one that quite rightly attracts a great deal of scrutiny.
Jisc worked with representatives of the subscribing universities and research institutions for some 18 months on the agreement, seeking their input throughout. During 2015 we worked with the sector, through workshops, surveys and focus groups, to establish what a minimum acceptable agreement with Elsevier would include.
What was important when negotiating the deal?
From the consultation we received very clear feedback that institutions wanted to renew the agreement, and that in our negotiations we should prioritise value for money, open access, the move away from legacy pricing models and increasing transparency. We were also made aware that the agreement wasn’t only important to research-intensive institutions, but teaching intensive ones as well.
Do all institutions have to sign up to the agreement?
No institution is required to sign up to this agreement, it is entirely opt-in. There are no dependencies across institutions, so they can continue to sign up to subject packages or individual titles should they wish to. These decisions are entirely at the discretion of the institutions.
Does Jisc Collections have the right to publish the total spend of the sector on the agreement?
Once those institutions that wish to have entered the agreement, Jisc Collections will publish the total spend of the sector. We will be working with institutions and the publisher throughout the term of the agreement to monitor its effectiveness and value against other agreements, to ensure all agreements continue to deliver the best value to subscribers.
Although one negotiation cycle is unlikely to achieve the larger systemic changes, particularly in addressing the very great payment differences in existence as a result of historical print spend (HPS) - Jisc Collections and Elsevier have committed to working with institutions to reduce the impact of HPS and investigate the move toward more equitable pricing between institutions.
Are authors required to sign up to additional terms to undertake text and data mining?
No. In the Jisc ScienceDirect agreement there is no requirement to sign up to additional terms to undertake text and data mining, and no other rights in the previous agreement or provided via the exceptions or limitations in copyright law have been lost or curtailed.
Institutions and users may download copies of the material for the purposes of text and data mining - an improvement on the current terms and exceptions.
The licence does not stipulate the use of Elsevier’s API to undertake text and data mining.
Which parts of the agreement have been signed?
So far only the subscription agreement has been signed, the remaining aspects covering ‘open’ are still being worked on.
These discussions are informed by Jisc colleagues who work on relevant services to ensure that they accurately reflect the requirements that Jisc has captured from the sector (both institutions and funders). In the first instance the agreement will focus on what can be done to help institutions populate their institutional repositories.
When were the negotiations concluded and why?
In October, following meetings between senior managers at Elsevier, vice chancellors and Jisc, a proposal was put to institutions (and accepted by respondents) for a five-year deal that maintained access to ScienceDirect, offered improved pricing and a commitment to improve institutions’ ability to support green open access in line with Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) policy.
The negotiations only concluded when the board overseeing the negotiations, the vice chancellors involved and institutions themselves felt we had achieved an acceptable result.
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