March 4, 2019


SUBJECT:    Outcome of UC Negotiations with Elsevier

University Colleagues:

We are writing to share the outcome of the University of California's negotiations to renew its systemwide license with scholarly journal publisher Elsevier, which have been underway for many months.

While we did make progress, particularly in the past few weeks, toward defining a model for open access publishing of UC research, Elsevier was ultimately unwilling to meet UC's key goal: securing universal open access to UC research, as stated in UC's faculty-driven principles on scholarly communication (1), while integrating open access publishing fees and subscription fees into a single cost-controlled contract.

The UC Academic Council also expressed its support for UC's position with regard to the Elsevier negotiations

In the end, cost, in particular, proved to be an insurmountable challenge. For example, Elsevier's most recent proposal did not include any cap on the total amount UC faculty could end up paying in article publishing fees. Their model also would not have allowed us to fully subsidize article fees for authors who lack the funds themselves. To meet UC's goal of open access publication for all UC authors, Elsevier would have charged authors over $10 million per year in addition to the libraries' current multi-million dollar subscription. The university is not willing to accept a deal that increases Elsevier's profits at the expense of our faculty. As a result, UC has announced that it will not be signing a new contract with Elsevier at this time. This announcement can be viewed at:

While we do not know exactly when, Elsevier is expected to begin limiting UC's access to new articles through its online platform, ScienceDirect, possibly very soon. This will mean some changes to how UC scholars access certain Elsevier journal articles.

What Content Will - And Won't - Be Affected

If you use Elsevier articles in your research, here are the most important things to know:

Most Elsevier articles published in 2018 or earlier will still be accessible via ScienceDirect. Because UC's prior contracts included permanent access to previously published content, you will still be able to get immediate access to the full text of most articles via Elsevier's ScienceDirect backfiles, just as you have in the past. More information on specific titles is available at

Open access articles in Elsevier journals are also unaffected. Many authors choose to pay an open access fee (called an article processing charge, or APC) when they publish, so it's always worth checking to see if the article you're seeking is available open access from the journal's website or elsewhere online.

Elsevier e-books and other products licensed by UC (e.g., Compendex, Reaxys) are covered under separate contracts and remain available as before.

What Is Affected:
At some point, Elsevier may begin to turn off UC's direct access to articles with a 2019 publish date and the backfiles of certain journals (2). However, open access versions of many of these articles are available. More information on how to gain access as well as how to submit a request for an article is available at

Although access to some content will be disrupted, the Library is committed to helping UC San Diego faculty, staff and students get access to the resources they need in other ways. For more information on how the UC Libraries are working to support access please visit the UC Office of Scholarly Communication website (3) or our Library access guide

If you are in doubt about why you can't reach a particular article, please contact the Library at

For more information regarding our negotiation goals, visit OSC's Top 3 Things to Know and FAQ pages at

For continued updates and information on affected content and access, visit

If you have any questions or feedback please feel free to contact University Librarian Erik Mitchell at any time (


Elizabeth H. Simmons
Executive Vice Chancellor

Robert Horwitz
Chair, Academic Senate
San Diego Division

Erik Mitchell
The Audrey Geisel University Librarian