Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dutch vs. Elsevier

The discussions between libraries and major publishers about subscriptions have only rarely been actual negotiations. In almost all cases the libraries have been unwilling to walk away and the publishers have known this. This may be starting to change; Dutch libraries have walked away from the table with Elsevier. Below the fold, the details.

VNSU, the association representing the 14 Dutch research universities, negotiates on their behalf with journal publishers. Earlier this month they announced that their current negotiations with Elsevier are at an impasse, on the issues of costs and the Dutch government's Open Access mandate:
Negotiations between the Dutch universities and publishing company Elsevier on subscription fees and Open Access have ground to a halt. In line with the policy pursued by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the universities want academic publications to be freely accessible. To that end, agreements will have to be made with the publishers. The proposal presented by Elsevier last week totally fails to address this inevitable change.
In their detailed explanation for scientists (PDF), VNSU elaborates:
During several round[s] of talks, no offer was made which would have led to a real, and much-needed, transition to open access. Moreover, Elsevier has failed to deliver an offer that would have kept the rising costs of library subscriptions at an acceptable level. ... In the meantime, universities will prepare for the possible consequences of an expiration of journal subscriptions. In case this happens researchers will still be able to publish in Elsevier journals. They will also have access to back issues of these journals. New issues of Elsevier journals as of 1-1-2015 will not be accessible anymore.
I assume that this means that post-cancellation access will be provided by Elsevier directly, rather than by an archiving service. The government and the Dutch research funder have expressed support for VNSU's position.

This stand by the Dutch is commendable; the outcome will be very interesting. In a related development, if my marginal French is not misleading me, a new law in Germany allows authors of publicly funded research to make their accepted manuscripts freely available 1 year after initial publication. Both stand in direct contrast to the French "negotiation" with Elsevier:
France may not have any money left for its universities but it does have money for academic publishers.
While university presidents learn that their funding is to be reduced by EUR 400 million, the Ministry of Research has decided, under great secrecy, to pay EUR 172 million to the world leader in scientific publishing Elsevier .


David. said...

Cameron Neylon of the PLoS Advocacy Team has an interesting analysis of the economics of the Dutch situation vis-a-vis Elsevier.

David. said...

Observant writes on the looming license expiration for Dutch researchers.