Go back

UK universities sign ‘world’s largest’ OA deal with Elsevier

Image: ll.studio, via Shutterstock

Deal offers “significant reduction on current institutional spend”, unlocking 80 per cent of UK research

UK universities have finalised a three-year, open-access deal with Elsevier, following protracted negotiations on the replacement of the UK’s largest subscription agreement.

The agreement between the academic publisher and the higher education IT organisation Jisc will enable UK universities to publish open access in Elsevier journals. UK researchers will also have access to paywalled journal articles. 

The announcement follows protracted negotiations to replace the Jisc Collections Elsevier ScienceDirect Journal agreement that commenced in 2017 and was to end on 31 December 2021.

Elsevier says is it “one of the fastest-growing open access publishers in the world” with “nearly all” of its 2,700 journals enabling open access publishing, including 600 fully open access journals.

Gemma Hersh, SVP for global academic and government sales at Elsevier, said the publisher was “proud to continue to support the UK’s world-class research community”.

“This agreement is a significant step towards a sustainable transition to immediate open access for UK research that supports authors in sharing their work and enables researchers to read the high quality, trusted research published in Elsevier journals,” she said.

“We appreciate the challenges the UK institutions face, especially because of the pandemic, and worked collaboratively with Jisc to create a tailored agreement which meets all the requirements set out on behalf of the sector.”

Jisc’s managing director of higher education and research, Liam Earney, said: “This agreement meets all the core requirements of the sector and the contract has now been signed.

“This is the world’s largest open-access agreement with Elsevier and is unique both in the level of savings and the access it delivers, and is a major step in the transition towards full, equitable and affordable transition to open scholarship.”

He added that the agreement provided “significant savings on total sector spend”, meaning that, alongside the sector’s other OA agreements, “80 per cent of UK research can be made open access at no cost to authors”.

A spokesperson for Jisc told Research Professional News that the agreement “significantly reduces sector spend and delivers a 15 per cent reduction on previous subscription spend to all universities. All previous article processing charges, which equated to £7.2 million in 2020 for example, have been removed.” 

“At a total cost of £38.6m, the agreement will enable unlimited and immediate OA publishing in Elsevier’s subscription journals including the Lancet and Cell Press titles and maintain access to content behind a paywall without giving up any associated rights.”

However, Earney said, “there is still much more work to be done, and Jisc will continue to work with the sector through the negotiation of transitional and OA agreements which enable UK research output to be published OA in accordance with UK funder policies”.

UPDATE 24/03 – Added information about the cost of the agreement.