It was a close call, but all is well. After more than a year of negotiations between Elsevier and the Dutch universities, they came to an agreement.

The next five years, universities will have access to the scientific articles in Elsevier journals. The aim that in 2018, 30 percent of the Dutch authors will publish open access is now part of the agreement.

Big deal for open access

Gerard Meijer
Gerard Meijer Image credit: Radboud Universiteit

“We are pleased with this agreement which provides a sustainable transition to open access,” said Gerard Meijer, chief negotiator on behalf of the VSNU and chairman of the board at the Radboud University Nijmegen. “This frees scientists to access Elsevier Journals and it gives them the ability to publish open access to a selection of those journals. This really is great news and a ‘big deal’ for open access. “

Biggest obstacle

Open access publishing was the biggest point of discussion during the negotiations. In recent years, the dissatisfaction among scientists increased. The profit margin of Elsevier was getting bigger, while scientists performed the editorial work for the scientific journals for free. Besides that, all the articles were not available for the public since they disappeared behind a pay wall. The debate focused increasingly on whether articles funded by public money should not also be open to the public.

Universities kept putting pressure on Elsevier

The Association of Universities (VSNU) negotiate once every five years on the deal which they conclude with Elsevier. The deal involves a so-called ‘package deal’. These universities make one deal with Elsevier about the access to several of their journals. During that deal VSNU took the opportunity to discuss the possibility of open access.

This possibility was also discussed with publishers Springer and Wiley. These publishers agreed in April this year to take steps towards open access. Elsevier was initially hesitant. The VSNU then decided to announce several actions to put pressure, such as the call to scientists to submit their work for Elsevier journals down.