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Collection Development and Maintenance

Elsevier Negotiations

A message from Dean of Libraries, Anne-Marie Deitering:

Welcome back and I hope your preparations for the start of fall term are going well.  I am writing today to update you on our Elsevier contract. This is a long email, so here is what I will be covering: 

  • Background
  • Elsevier usage data
  • How to provide input on essential titles
  • Better ways to access Elsevier journal articles
  • Resources for ongoing updates


As we shared last year, the library works through hundreds of contracts annually.  To do this work, we are guided by the Principles Guiding Negotiations with Journal Vendors that we created collaboratively with OSU faculty, and which were endorsed by the Faculty Senate in 2022. Last year, after seven months of unproductive negotiations, we made the decision to allow OSU’s contract with Elsevier to lapse starting January 1, 2023. UW, UO and PSU made similar decisions at about the same time. 

At the end of the summer, we reached out to Elsevier to find out if they would be willing to reopen negotiations towards a new contract based on a transparent pricing model. They are still unwilling to consider any models outside of multi-year, multi-title package deals or the Read and Publish agreements they have negotiated with universities like our colleagues to the south in the UC system. Read and Publish models are very expensive, and becoming more expensive every year. They further entrench the pay-to-publish business model that currently drives open access publishing in the US and Europe. We believe that this business model is inequitable, opaque and unsustainable. And we are not alone in this. Last year, some of the best-resourced universities in the US came out strong against this model, and in Europe, where pay-to-publish agreements are in widespread use, an influential coalition of funding agencies recently ended its financial support for these agreements. We have made it clear to Elsevier that we need them to work with us on a pricing model that is transparent, and based on the real value they add. We are willing to be creative, and to work with Elsevier towards this goal in the future. 

Analysis of Elsevier usage data in 2023

OSU Libraries acquired new tools to make it easier for OSU researchers to acquire articles on demand. These tools have two benefits: 

  • You can place requests for articles to be purchased on demand and receive them within an hour (usually within 10 minutes).  The library pays the per article fee.
  • The library now has access to richer data about OSU’s use of Elsevier articles

Now, we need to identify essential titles – titles where immediate, subscription access makes the most sense for OSU -- to take to Elsevier later this year.  Over the summer we analyzed the usage data generated on our various platforms and delivery systems in the first half of 2023. We used that data to create an initial draft list of high-use titles. To finalize this list, we need participation from you. There are some important limitations to the data we have available, and we rely on you to provide nuance: 

  • This draft list reflects the usage and request levels that we can see on our platforms in the first half of 2023. It does not include usage that occurred outside of library platforms.
  • Depending on how we provided access to Elsevier journals in the past, the data we have available varies. Seriously, read the ReadME document before you try and use the data. We don’t have the same information about every title. 
  • We can see how many clicks or downloads an article gets.  But usage data will not tell us if a user clicked on an article, read the abstract and decided it did not meet their needs or if they clicked on an article, scrolled down to the section they needed, and read it on the screen.  

We need you to tell us what we are not able to see in these data.

To help shape our essential titles list: 

  • Look at the initial draft list of titles built from usage data. 
  • If you would like to see more about the data we considered for any Elsevier title you can find that in the Elsevier Data Points spreadsheet
  • Read the README document first to understand what you are looking at. The numbers may not be complicated, but the different access methods and contract terms they reflect are.  
  • If you have information or insight that would add nuance to this list, please share it. If you would like one of us to follow up with you to answer questions or provide additional information, please let us know that.  
  • You can use this survey to provide input any time, but we expect to bring a refined list to Elsevier by the end of October.  If you would like to give input on that list, please do as soon as possible, but no later than October 22, 2023

A side note about access – requesting articles is much easier and faster using new workflows

We are spending about $20,000 per month to purchase articles on demand right now. We think we should be purchasing more. We will not know how much subscriptions to our essential title list will cost until we receive that information from Elsevier. At the print-only price, the draft list alone would cost $200,000, which does not include the 15 titles for which there is no print price. Elsevier’s digital pricing model is not transparent, but we can assume based on past experience that the price for digital subscriptions will be much higher. On-demand services allow us to provide quick access to more people than subscriptions do. We want to be sure we are getting the most out of what we spend on subscriptions, and out of what we spend on on-demand services.

We have heard from some researchers that they are not using interlibrary loan or Article Delivery Service (purchase on demand) because the workflows are too onerous.  In almost every case, the workflows they were using are outdated. It is these cases – where people want to be using the library to access but don’t know how that we would like to address.

If you are entering every Interlibrary Loan request manually, or if you do not know how to find the Article Delivery links to purchase on demand --  please Ask a Librarian or use this page to find out how to do these things using these new tools.  In almost all cases, asking the library to purchase an article for you should take no more than a few clicks and a minutes-long wait.  If it is taking more time or effort than that, let us know. 

Where can I find current updates on journal negotiations? 

You have a few options here.  We will also be sending out another update by email in December of 2023 (or sooner if there is significant news to report. 

Thank you for bearing with me through this long email.  If you have input for us, please provide it, and if you would like someone from the libraries to come and talk to your department, program, lab or other unit, please let us know.

Elsevier Data and Potential Title List

Provide Feedback

We are interested in getting your feedback to use in our decision-making process.  Please complete the survey to tell us how not having immediate, unmediated access to the content will impact your teaching, learning and/or research.  As a reminder, OSU Libraries is committed to providing alternative access to content we do not subscribe.

Preferred Licensing Terms

Oregon State University Libraries worked with interested parties across campus to establish principles supporting open and sustainable scholarly communication.This work is strongly in alignment with our Collection Values Framework that prioritizes equity of access, protecting user privacy, stewardship, and transparency of our work in managing collections. We work individually or through our consortial partners to establish licenses that align with our preferred licensing terms.We strive to complete the licensing approval process as quickly as possible to ensure timely access to content needed by our researchers, teachers and learners. When licenses contain our Open and Sustainable Scholarly Communication (OSSC) preferred terms (see table below), our contracts office can typically review and sign within 2-4 weeks. We understand that our preferred licensing terms may be new or different for some publishers and we will engage in the work to make incremental changes.

The typical review and approval process:

  • Vendor/publisher sends license as a Word document.
  • Collection Council reviews for alignment with our preferred licensing terms.
  • Draft license with updates is sent to our central contracts office for review.
  • Draft license is sent back to publisher for approval and a clean copy for signature.
  • Collection Council seeks signature from central contracts office and sends signed license back to vendor/publisher for counter signature.
  • Counter signed license is sent to central contracts office and held locally in library.

OSSC Principles Preferred Licensing Terms
Authorized Users
  • Active students of OSU
  • Employees affiliated with OSU (whether on a permanent, temporary, contract, or visiting basis
  • Regardless of geographic location
  • Walk-in users of OSU Libraries
Open Access
  • Ensure no language negates Green OA as defined by our existing OA policy.
  • Reduce barriers to access by asking the publisher to auto-ingest into our IR, or to allow us to implement a workflow, system, tool or solution.
  • Recognize the labor already invested in the research article by making OSU-authored articles and book chapters from 1997-2013 open at no additional charge. (Back-Flip model)
  • Move a journal to fully open when 60% of published articles are from OSU researchers and/or OSU researchers sit on editorial boards. (Flip to Open model)
  • Request that OSU authors can submit the version of record into the IR. (Gold OA)
Author's Rights
  • The OSU Open Access agreement will be honored by the publisher.
Preservation and Accessibility
  • Perpetual access rights will be granted for the content years paid for through the contract.
  • Publisher will use archiving systems such as LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, Portico, etc. If a publisher is unable to archive content, OSU can pursue this option.
  • Complies with current guidelines for accessibility (WCAG).
  • In situations where content is not in an accessible format, OSU has the right to alter the format to meet the accessibility needs of individual users.
  • Allow ongoing negotiations to be made available on OSUL website.
  • Allow signed agreeements to be made publicly available on the library's website, or Open APC site, no earlier than 30 days after the customer and publisher have signed the Agreement.
User Data
  • Publisher provides the data we identify as necessary for our business purposes.
  • Publisher will get written permission from OSU for data they want to give or sell to a 3rd party.
  • Publisher will notify OSU within 72 hours if compelled to share user data.
  • Publisher will provide their response to a data breach. They will notify OSU within 72 hours if they have a data breach that impacts OSU data.
Research Support
  • Authorized users may use the licensed materials to perform and engage in text mining and data mining activities for legitimate academic research and other educational purposed at no additional cost to OSU. Those uses beyond research and educational use shall require publisher's permission.
Sharing and Fair Use
  • Nothing in the agreement shall be construed to limit the right of the licensee or any authorized user to use the information in accordance with the Fair Use provision of U.S. copyright law.
  • Interlibrary Loan requests will be filled in compliance with Section 108 of the United States Copyright Law (17 USC 108, "Limitation on exclusive rights:  Reproduction by libraries and archives").