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Queen Mary University of London and Elsevier

The contract between the publisher Elsevier and UK Universities ends in December 2021.  

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London access subscription content, as well as publishing, extensively in Elsevier journals.  The current agreement covers access (subscription) content through Elsevier's ScienceDirect platform, but does not include article processing charges for open access publishing, which are paid for separately.  Negotiations began in March 2021, and are ongoing.   

2,048Elsevier journals in the collections at Queen Mary

33Papers published OA in Elsevier journals by Queen Mary authors 2020

£98,355Total cost to publish papers open access 2020

How is this different? 

In recent years, many major publishers have begun to provide combined agreements covering both the subscription (read) and publishing (publish) elements.  These agreements help to manage the cost of access and publishing, as well as supporting the open research agenda Elsevier does not currently offer a read and publish agreement. 

The changing landscape 

Research funders continue to have a significant role in the changing landscape around open scholarship Many now require that publications and other outputs from funded research are made openly accessible; revised open access policy from major UK funders, including UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Wellcome Trust, are taking this further, implementing the Coalition S Plan S principles, and requiring publishers to commit to transformative (or transitional) agreements. 

Queen Mary supports the principles of open access to research, including both the published output and the data that supports the publication, viewing this as a public good as well as supporting widening access to research outcomes and academic scholarship globally. 

New business models 

A number of organisations, both publishers and universities, are exploring a range of business models to ensure sustainability of academic publishing whilst supporting the overarching aim of widening access to research, free at the point of use. 

Queen Mary has entered into several “Read and Publish” agreements, as well as investing in platforms moving wholly to open access (eg. Open Library of Humanities) seeking to achieve sustainable funding models. 

Negotiation objectives 

The UK Universities sector is entering negotiations with Elsevier with two core objectives:

  • To reduce costs to levels UK universities can sustain
  • To provide full and immediate open access to UK research. 
The aim is to secure a read and publish agreement with Elsevier, converting subscription expenditure to support immediate open access publishing, and maintaining access to paywalled content for a reduced fee.

UK Universities agreed their priorities for the next Elsevier agreement in 2020 and began negotiations in March 2021. The negotiations are governed by two groups; the Universities UK content negotiation strategy group and the content expert group. Representatives from each group sit on the official negotiation team and Jisc, the UK not-for-profit digital services provider for education and research, facilitates the overall negotiations. 

Who and how is this being coordinated at Queen Mary? 

Queen Mary Library Services is coordinating engagement and the consultation process with faculties and academic schools, Deans for Research and Education, as well as the Vice-Principals for Research and Innovation, and Education. 

In addition, we are gathering and analysing data on usage, spending and publishing, as well as exploring alternative routes to research publishing, including the role of inter-library loan. You can find out more on the internal site Elsevier Negotiations 2021 (Queen Mary institutional login required).

How to keep up to date 

Updates on the negotiations as well as any consultations will be provided via this webpage.

You can contact a member of the Senior Management Team in Library Services via with enquiries or feedback. 

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