Monthly Archives: February 2021

Elsevier agreement in Denmark: (just) one step forward

During the last few months intense negotiations have taken place between Danish universities and publishing giant Elsevier. The topic was of course license agreements and Open Access.

On January 26 it was announced that Danish universities had entered into a new license agreement for the coming four years, which means that Danish researchers can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now.

The main points of the agreement are:

The price of journal subscriptions remains the same for the entire period. It is based on the 2020 price.
The parties mentioned in the agreement have full, unaltered access to 75% of the Elsevier Freedom Collection (this used to be 100%).
Free Open Access publishing of the final Elsevier version of an article, with a Creative Commons BY license, when the author is corresponding author and affiliated with an institution that is a part of the agreement. However, several hundred Gold Open Access Elsevier journals and a list of about 170 titles under the licenses (not yet specified) are not part of this contract.
A price increase of 1,12% on other Elsevier resources, such as Scopus, for all institutions.

For one of the universities under the agreement, The University of Southern Denmark, this means that about 1.2 million Euros, or about 26% of the library budget for electronic materials, will be reserved to Elsevier in 2021. The funding is distributed with around 1 million Euros paid for subscription to the journal package “Freedom Collection”. In addition, the library subscribes to other resources outside the current agreement: e.g. the reference data base Scopus, the bibliometric data base SciVal, various individual journals and digital reference works, and the software underlying the research registration system, PURE.

The University Library of Southern Denmark has also been paying around 100.000 Euro annually for article processing charges (APCs) for Open Access publishing, which meant that the university’s budget had all been fully spent before yet another agreement. Previous agreements with Elsevier have brought annual price increases of 3-5%.

Therefore, the good news is that this part of the universities’ contract with Elsevier has now been settled.

Remaining issues include the following:

the agreement only covers the Freedom Collection;

the limitation to “corresponding author” has a unknown impact on the national Danish Open Access strategy and library services related to Open Access;
Elsevier still denies Open Access to almost 800 journals;
and the library will only have perpetual access to 75% of Elsevier’s journals – in terms of the journals “value”; it is notyet clear which journals this pertains too, as it depends on the price of the individual journals, as set by Elsevier.

However, the agreement should be seen as the first step in the right direction, which we hope will lead to more reasonable agreements between Danish universities and large publishers like Elsevier.

Nationally and internationall, library budgets are still under huge pressure from price increases on licenses, by far exceeding the increases in public funding. Therefor libraries still experience a massive economic pressure and must still face the need to cancel subscriptions and reduce library services, in order to balance their budgets.

So even though the new agreement with Elsevier in Denmark is no doubt an improvement, the current subscription-based scholarly publishing model does by its nature not present a sustainable future for research libraries: true transformative agreements are still ahead.  

Bertil Fabricius Dorch

Library Director, Associate Professor

University Library of Southern Denmark, SDU





Press release from Universities Denmark:

News from University of Southern Denmark: