U of California breaks with major publisher over subscription fee terms

The University of California opted not to renew its subscriptions with a major academic research publisher because the organization reportedly rejected UC's terms for its subscription fee, the university said in a Feb. 28 statement.

UC officials sought to allow research produced across the university's 10 campuses to be immediately available to scholars for free. However, Elsevier, one of the world's largest academic research publishers, "was unwilling to meet UC's reasonable contract terms, which would integrate subscription charges and open-access publishing fees, making open access the default for any article by a UC scholar and stabilizing journal costs for the university."

"[Elsevier] would have charged UC authors large publishing fees on top of the university's multimillion dollar subscription, resulting in much greater cost to the university and much higher profits for Elsevier," the university said in its statement.

Under a previous contract that expired in 2018, the university paid Elsevier more than $10 million to allow its affiliates access to hundreds of Elsevier journals, STAT News reports. Researchers were also made to pay a total of $1 million each year in preparation fees for open-access articles, which could each cost thousands of dollars in fees.

"Knowledge should not be accessible only to those who can pay," said Robert May, PhD, chair of the university's faculty academic senate, said in a Feb. 28 statement. "The quest for full open access is essential if we are to truly uphold the mission of this university."

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