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Newcastle University and Elsevier

Newcastle University and Elsevier


The current 5-year agreement between the academic publisher Elsevier and UK Universities is due for renewal in December 2021. A negotiating team led by Universities UK (UUK) and Jisc, on behalf of the UK Higher Education community, are currently meeting regularly with Elsevier to try and reach an agreement over the shape of a new deal for the UK from January 2022.

Current situation

UK universities spend more than £50 million annually with Elsevier and Newcastle University subscribes to Elsevier’s ScienceDirect at a cost of £1.1 million for the current deal which gives University members access to more than 1,800 journals.  

Subscription costs are only part of the picture as increasingly many researchers are required by their funders to make their research outputs open access. Open access to research allows for greater impact, expanding access worldwide and the potential for collaborative work to benefit the national and international research community. Many publishers impose article processing charges to make a publication open access in one of their journals. 

An individual article can incur between £140 and £7,800 in article processing charges when a Newcastle author publishes in an Elsevier journal.

What is the alternative?

Many publishers are offering transformative open access agreements on a Read and Publish basis. These agreements combine access to journals with payments for publishing within one contract and one fee, rather than requiring additional article processing charges (APCs) to make a publication open access.  

These agreements support the Plan S initiative which requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.  

Costs to provide access to Elsevier’s journals are high - higher than with any other publisher and continuing to increase - but do not include an open access agreement.   

This means that additional fees must be paid to allow research to be made openly available through Elsevier, putting increased pressure on institutional funds and making costs unsustainable.  

Elsevier is now the only major publisher that does not have a combined Read and Publish agreement in place. 

The negotiations

This is an important negotiation and universities on behalf of their researchers and students have two main 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 and began negotiations in March 2021. 

The Library is coordinating the University's contribution to the national discussions and has been gathering data about journal usage and costs that will inform our institutional response to proposals.  

Latest news and updates

Latest news on the Elsevier negotiations

The negotiations between Elsevier and the UK higher education sector are ongoing.