Could This be THE Breakthrough for Open Access: ' Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts' - The Scientist - Health Resource International West Africa (HRI)

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Monday, 24 July 2017

Could This be THE Breakthrough for Open Access: ' Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts' - The Scientist



Courtesy of The Scientist - 

'  Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts 

These institutions join around 60 others that hope to put increasing pressure on the publishing giant in ongoing negotiations for a new nationwide licensing agreement.
By Diana Kwon | July 17, 2017 


SATALINO
I n Germany, the fight for open access and favorable pricing for journals is getting heated. At the end of last month (June 30), four major academic institutions in Berlin announced that they would not renew their subscriptions with the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier once they end this December. Then on July 7, nine universities in Baden-Württemberg, another large German state, also declared their intention to cancel their contracts with the publisher at the end of 2017.
These institutions join around 60 others across the country that allowed their contracts to expire last year.
The decision to cancel subscriptions was made in order to put pressure on Elsevier during ongoing negotiations. “Nobody wants Elsevier to starve—they should be paid fairly for their good service,” says Ursula Flitner, the head of the medical library at Charité–Berlin University of Medicine. “The problem is, we no longer see what their good service is.”
Charité–Berlin University of Medicine is joined by Humboldt University of Berlin, Free University of Berlin, and Technical University of Berlin in letting its Elsevier subscriptions lapse.
“The general issue is that large parts of the research done is publicly funded, the type setting and quality control [peer review] is done by people who are paid by the public, [and] the purchase of the journals is also paid by the public,” says Christian Thomsen, the president of the Technical University of Berlin. “So it’s a bit too much payment.”
Project DEAL, an alliance of German institutions led by the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (German Rectors’ Conference), has been working to establish a new nationwide licensing agreement with three major scientific publishers, Elsevier, Springer Nature, and Wiley, since 2016. “The ‘big three’ cover up to 50 to 60 percent of many library budgets in Germany,” says Andreas Degkwitz, the director of the library at Humboldt University, which is among those represented by DEAL. “Elsevier is the biggest of these.”
Sources would not disclose the costs of subscriptions because their contracts are confidential. But according to Degkwitz, in general, the price of journal subscriptions across all publishers has been increasing on an average of about 5 percent per year.
The universities that cancelled their contracts are supporting DEAL’s three key demands: fair pricing based on the number of publications, open access to all publications by scientists at German institutions, and permanent access to Elsevier’s electronic journals for scientific bodies represented by the DEAL project. If these objectives are met, payments would no longer be made for journal subscriptions—instead, scientific institutions and funders would pay a certain sum per published article, which would immediately become openly available, Flitner explains.
“I don’t see an immediate end [to the negotiations with Elsevier],” Degkwitz adds. “With Springer and Wiley we might have a contract in the beginning or in the first months of 2018, and so far the cancellations of those subscriptions have not been discussed.” He also points out that Springer has already agreed to implement the “publish and read model,” which combines reading and publishing into one combined fee, with some European institutions.
When asked for comment, Elsevier pointed to a statement it released in June and would not provide further details. “Researchers should also know that Elsevier is working diligently to find a mutually acceptable solution with the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK) and to put a new agreement in place this year, ensuring uninterrupted access,” the company writes in the release. “Elsevier agrees with all of HRK’s basic requests for a national license and open access, and this is reflected in the numerous constructive proposals that we have submitted to HRK.” However, what this means with respect to DEAL’s three objectives remains unclear.
The DEAL project also declined The Scientist’s request for comment. ’’

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