Thousands of scientists in Germany, Peru and Taiwan are preparing for a new year without online access to journals from the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier. Contract negotiations in both Germany and Taiwan broke down in December, while Peru’s government has cut off funding for a licence.
“It’s very unpleasant,” says Horst Hippler, spokesperson for the DEAL consortium of state-funded universities and research organizations, which is overseeing negotiations in Germany. “But we just cannot accept what Elsevier has proposed so far.”
Universities regularly complain about the rising costs of academic journals, and sometimes threaten to cancel their subscriptions. But negotiators usually strike a deal to avoid cutting researchers off. Last year, for example, a consortium of 14 universities in the Netherlands threatened to boycott Elsevier if it could not agree that articles by Dutch authors would be made open access. In the end, it thrashed out a compromise: 30% of its Dutch papers will be open access by 2018. And this month, a Finnish consortium that could not agree on terms with major publishers including Elsevier settled for a one-year extension deal while talks continue.
That hasn’t happened in Germany or Taiwan. In Germany, the DEAL consortium was supposed to broker its first nationwide licence agreement for the beginning of 2017. It wants all German-authored articles to be made open access. But Hippler says that Elsevier’s proposed contract cost too much, and didn’t include an open-access clause. Negotiations ended in December without agreement; Hippler says they are likely to resume in January. An Elsevier spokesperson declined to comment.
Before the DEAL collective formed, German institutions had negotiated their own contracts with Elsevier individually. Hundreds of universities are still on multi-year individual contracts, so are not yet affected.
But for more than 60 institutions, access licences ran out at the end of 2016. …