Magazine article Information Today

The New DEAL: OA and Digital Access

Magazine article Information Today

The New DEAL: OA and Digital Access

Article excerpt

Talks between a consortium of German universities, research institutes, and academic libraries and publishing giant Elsevier over the terms of continued access to research papers and publications look like they're going to the wire. The consortium, Project DEAL, wants to reach a national licensing agreement with Elsevier, which would give these German institutions access to the full range of relevant ejournals held by the publisher rather than having them pay to access individual publications. It also wants content produced by German academics and researchers to be available on an OA basis.

Project DEAL says more than 100 German universities and research institutions, including the universities of Heidelberg and Tubingen and the German Cancer Research Center, will not renew their contracts with Elsevier beyond 2017. The Helmholtz Association, which comprises 18 research centers in Germany, says in a statement that 16 centers have terminated their license agreements with Elsevier effective from the end of this year. Project DEAL is represented at the negotiations with Elsevier by the Hochschulrektorenkonferenze (HRK), an association of public and government-recognized universities in Germany.

Bernhard Mittermaier, head of the central library at the Julich Research Center and Project DEAL negotiation team member, says negotiators "are currently waiting for an offer from Elsevier which reflects our approach." This would mean that "[a]ll articles of corresponding authors from participating institutions are published open access with a CC BY license" and that all participating institutions get access to all journals, as well as "fair pricing based on publication output." He adds that negotiations "aren't broken down, there is only no movement. Yet, DEAL is very busy with the ongoing negotiations with SpringerNature and Wiley which are on a much better track."

As for the prospect of reaching an agreement with Elsevier, Mittermaier says, "There are two possible outcomes: Either a deal along the lines I have mentioned, or no deal. While I'm looking forward to an agreement according to our principles, we still have to think what a 'no deal' outcome would imply."

He continues, "Germany is currently proving that a country can live without Elsevier subscriptions. Elsevier might be thinking that they can live without revenue from Germany, and I'm sure they actually can. Their respectable margin will drop only by a few percent. Hence the Elsevier-Germany [relationship] actually may end in a stalemate...."

Harald Boersma, director of corporate relations at Elsevier, says, "We remain committed to reaching an agreement that is best for German researchers. We listened and agree with all of HRK's basic principles for a national license, and open access, and our proposals address them all. Reaching an agreement requires constructive discussion, which we've been trying to initiate multiple times. HRK so far has been reluctant to engage in such a conversation."

LIBER's Five Principles for OA Negotiations

Coincidentally, LIBER (Association of European Research Libraries) recently issued five principles for OA negotiations with publishers that are based "on the experiences of LIBER libraries in the past two years": Licensing and Open Access Go Hand-in-Hand; No Open Access, No Price Increase; Transparency for Licensing Deals: No Non-Disclosure; Keep Access Sustainable; and Usage Reports Should Include Open Access. …

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