SUNY is in the midst of negotiating a new five year, system wide contract with Elsevier for access to ScienceDirect and Cell Press. Our current license expires in December 2019. The SUNY Libraries Consortium is taking the lead on negotiations with Elsevier. We requested pricing proposals for SUNY-wide and individual campus subscriptions, and asked Elsevier consider subscription access as well as support for Open Access. We have not yet received any proposal.
Negotiations with Elsevier are extremely challenging. They have proven to be inflexible with their pricing model and we have had difficulty getting critical information from them. Over a year ago the Elsevier sales team gave a presentation to several deans and library directors about their product roadmap; we reached out asking if they would share their presentation slides, yet they never responded. That request was made more than once. Almost a year ago they were asked for a list of faculty from a specific campus who serve on the editorial boards of Elsevier journals. So far, they have been unwilling to provide this information. We also asked them for documentation showing campus-by-campus post-cancellation rights. We want to be able to verify those titles to which we will continue to have access should this round of negotiations not conclude successfully. These seemingly modest requests have gone unanswered.
It is too early to predict how SUNY’s negotiations with Elsevier will resolve. The financial challenges confronting our libraries and the University have been made explicitly clear to them. Their willingness to respond accordingly will significantly influence how these negotiations will conclude, with both renewal and non-renewal remaining possible outcomes at this time.
Elsevier is part of the immensely profitable Dutch-owned company RELX. Even so, as reported, Elsevier insisted that UC continue to pay not only subscription charges but also in many cases, fees to publish articles. SUNY’s current arrangement is similar to what UC had. We have a subscription with a total valuation well into tens of millions of dollars, yet individual authors must pay what are called APCs or article publishing charges in order to have their works immediately available as open access publications.
We hope that the negotiations will reach an outcome acceptable to all of SUNY however we cannot predict what the outcome will be.
Contact Matthew R. Smith for questions or comments about this guide, or to report broken links. The above is adapted from communications of the SUNY Libraries Consortium Commercial Products Committee ScienceDirect working group and internal communications at ESF.
Last update Dec. 19th, 2019
SUNY – Elsevier Negotiations Communication Chain (most current first)