Elsevier Tries To Lie About University Of California's Contract Negotiation; UC Shows Its Receipts

from the don't-fuck-with-uc dept

You may recall that, back in March, we were excited to hear the news that the University of California had cancelled its Elsevier subscription, after Elsevier was unwilling to support UC's goal of universal open access to all of its research (while simultaneously cutting back on the insane costs that Elsevier charged). Apparently the fight between Elsevier and UC has continued, and it's getting nasty. Recently, UC put out a blog post that accused Elsevier of playing dirty and making a bunch of bullshit claims about UC and the negotiations:

  • Elsevier also asserts that it “proposed a series of arrangements that would contain costs.”

Elsevier’s proposal would only have contained costs under the narrowest of interpretations, in which two-thirds of UC-authored articles would remain behind Elsevier’s paywall. To meet UC’s goal of making all UC research freely accessible, the final proposal from Elsevier would have cost UC 80 percent more than its most recent agreement

  • A point Elsevier has made repeatedly is that they offered UC “a five-fold increase in open access publishing.”

Elsevier’s offer to increase open access publishing “five-fold” would have resulted in only 30 percent of UC’s research, all of which is supported by public funding, being freely available to the public. Under the past Elsevier contract, which required UC authors to pay an additional charge for open access (after the libraries already paid Elsevier for subscriptions), only 6 percent of UC authors made that second payment — making the majority of UC research published in Elsevier journals inaccessible to the public who helped fund it.

  • The publisher states that it has “opened over 1,900 of its subscription journals to open access submissions.”

Elsevier has not “opened” its subscription journals. Rather, it is asking authors, after the libraries have already paid Elsevier for subscriptions, to pay a second charge (generally thousands of dollars) if authors want their individual articles to be available open access. Under this model, Elsevier gets paid twice for publishing such articles.

It goes on like this for a while. Given Elsevier's long history of sketchy practices, it probably should have thought better than sending out emails to people lying about what was happening with UC, but this is Elsevier that we're talking about: when has it ever "thought better"?

Filed Under: university of california
Companies: elsevier


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2019 @ 2:53pm

    Maybe it's time for UC to choose SCI-Hub as its official publisher....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2019 @ 3:06pm

    Re:

    They could use all of the extra funds that used to go to Elsevier for even more research. What a novel concept.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2019 @ 3:40pm

    Perhaps it's time for ALL libraries to boycott Elsevier.

    Elsevier has a lot of nerve to charge the authors of the articles it publishes to have the articles appear as "open access." It isn't enough that the publisher gets the authors' institutions to subscribe to their journals at their outlandish prices without actually supporting the research necessary behind the articles' creation? Their annual price increases exceed inflation many times over. Their paper warehouse storage and shipping costs have dropped dramatically with the creation of electronic journal publishing but Elsevier's prices have not. Their economic moral and ethical practices rival Donald Trump's. I think it's time for ALL libraries to boycott Elsevier.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    fairuse (profile), 9 Aug 2019 @ 4:39pm

    Re: Re:

    The $11m paid to Elsevier, which I call an operating expense should be used to lower tuition cost. Research is already paid by grants.

    I'm not going to say I know how this works but it is a sorry state of publishing when one issue of a journal costs more money than most people make in a month. One paper in said journal costs $400 if I want PDF. Note: This is based on a few lookups I have done when the abstract was useless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    DNY (profile), 10 Aug 2019 @ 8:05am

    It's past time for EVERYONE to boycotte Elsevier

    It's not just time for ALL libraries to boycott Elsevier, it's way past time for everyone in academe to boycott Elsevier. Don't publish in their journals, don't serve on their editorial boards, don't referee for their journals, don't buy their journals.

    Some of us have already started. The Cost of Knowledge boycott has 17654 signatories.

    Libraries boycotting them might have more of an effect since it will hit their medical journals -- the signatories of the boycott mostly mathematicians and computer scientists -- but we've made a start.

    What is really needed to fix academic publishing now that beautifully typesetting and distributing scientific papers can be done from a laptop, rather than requiring a specialized typesetting equipment, printing presses, binderies and mailing infrastructure, is for every academic discipline to do what my own field of mathematics, category theory, has done: gather a goodly number of the éminences grises in the field as an editorial board, find a university willing to donate server space in perpetuity and start a free, peer-reviewed online journal that only requires authors sign over the right to maintain an online copy and create a few print copies of the paper.

    Theory and Applications of Categories is the flagship category theory journal, and operates on such a model. The online copies are on a server provided by Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and every issue has two copies printed, one for the MAU library and one for the National Library of Canada.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    DNY (profile), 10 Aug 2019 @ 8:12am

    Re: It's past time for EVERYONE to boycotte Elsevier

    Oh, and TAC is free, free to publish in, free to users who want to download copies of the papers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2019 @ 4:07pm

    Elsevier charges to 'publicize' any old pseudoscientific nonsense. Doesn't have to be peer reviewed if you pay them a nice lump sum.

    So Elsevier effectively has rendered itself less reliable and accurate than a Google search.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2019 @ 4:34am

    Re: Re: Re:

    How is $400 "more than most people make in a month"? A bit of quick Googling turns up the average monthly wage in the USA is a bit north of $4000, over 10 times the price of that journal. (Which is not to say the journal isn't overpriced. It obviously is. But wild hyperbole doesn't help things.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2019 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    An issue of a journal contains more than one article...10 articles to an issue is pretty plausible, even, from my recollection of the last time I looked at paper journals :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    TFG, 12 Aug 2019 @ 8:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yep. Given one paper in a journal costs $400, the whole issue of the journal costs $4000 if there are 10 articles, which is definitely more than most people make in a month.

    Pay attention to wording.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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