University of California at Santa Cruz: Resolution on ties with Elsevier Journals, adopted by the Committee on the Library and sent to the Faculty Senate, October 24, 2003.
Summary: Elsevier journals cost 50% of the UC online serials budget but attracted only 25% of the usage. Elsevier profits rose 26% the previous year. Elsevier has been inflexible in negotiations. Taking the University of California system in its entirety, 10-15% of Elsevier content was written by UC faculty, 1,000 UC faculty serve on Elsevier editorial boards, and 150 serve as senior editors. The resolution recommends using the California Digital Library, the related eScholarship Repository, and peer-reviewed OA journals from PLoS and BMC. It urges faculty to retain copyright, the right of postprint archiving, and the right to distribute copies of their work to their classes. "Therefore, the UCSC Academic Senate resolves to call upon its tenured members to give serious and careful consideration to cutting their ties with Elsevier: no longer submitting papers to Elsevier journals, refusing to referee the submissions of others, and relinquishing editorial posts. The Senate also calls upon its Committee on Academic Personnel to recognize that some faculty may choose not to submit papers to Elsevier journals even when those journals are highly ranked. Faculty choosing to follow the advice of this resolution should not be penalized."
* University of California at San Francisco: Challenges to Sustaining Subscriptions for Scholarly Publications, memorandum to all UCSF faculty from Karen Butter, the University Librarian, and Leonard Zegans and David Rempel, co-chairs of the Committee on Library, November 1 2003.
* University of California at Berkeley: Journal Prices and Scholarly Communication, memorandum to the Academic Senate Faculty from Thomas Leonard, University Librarian, and Anthony Newcomb and Elaine Tennant, co-chairs of the Academic Senate Library Committee, September 4, 2003. The memorandum contains an introduction by Robert M. Berdahl, Chancellor.
Summary: The University cancelled an undisclosed number of journals. It emphasized that the problem was runaway journal prices, not the library budget: "Berkeley will continue to face this runaway serials pricing even after the present budget crisis is over." Recommendations: "Faculty need to become aware of the pricing policies of journals (including commercial electronic journals) in their fields....Submit papers to quality journals that have reasonable pricing practices. Modify any contract you sign with a commercial publisher to ensure that you retain the rights to use your work as you see fit, including posting it to a public archive. Consider declining offers to review for unreasonably expensive journals and to serve on their editorial boards....Make changes in scholarly communication a recurring topic at departmental meetings. Consider taking over the publication and distribution of research within your scholarly community. This has already begun at Berkeley, particularly with our colleagues in the Sciences and the Social Sciences....Encourage your professional associations to maintain reasonable prices for scholarship and to establish access terms that are friendly to faculty and other users....The appearance of unconscionable pricing for academic journals...is a problem that has come upon the academy suddenly and has now reached crisis proportions. We will have no one to blame but ourselves if we do not begin to address it at once."
Public statement by the Berkeley Graduate Assembly on the pricing crisis and journal cancellations, September 15, 2003.
"The success of alternate models requires awareness on the part of faculty and students of the problems inherent in the current model. The Graduate Assembly calls on faculty, administrators, and graduate students to support a significant culture change in academia; we must create an environment in which faculty and students can choose to publish their cutting-edge research outside the standard academic publishing industry."
Also see the Berkeley library's web site with background information on the problem and more detail on the Berkeley response.
* Harvard University: Letter to the Harvard faculty from Sidney Verba, Director of the University Library, December 9, 2003.
Summary: The letter announces Elsevier cancellations, which took effect January 1, 2004. The cancellations were "driven not only by current financial realities, but also —and perhaps more importantly— by the need to reassert control over our collections and to encourage new models for research publication at Harvard....Elsevier journals are by far the most expensive....Elsevier's 2004 contract proposal to NERL was not responsive to Harvard's objectives....Of greatest concern to the Digital Acquisitions Committee and to the University Library Council was the lack of any option by which Harvard could prune its holdings and reduce its level of spending. Libraries wishing to cancel subscriptions could do so, but only by incurring steeply increased fees that obliterate any potential savings —while Elsevier's revenues continued to rise....Toward this end, we have foregone the NERL Elsevier license in 2004 in order to regain control over Harvard library collections in a manner that responds to the University's academic programs. Instead, the libraries will purchase online access to Elsevier journals individually and selectively....Declining the bundled agreement and intentionally reducing our outlay for Elsevier titles will ultimately give us the ability to respond to the marketplace unfettered by such artificial constraints....We believe this action can be a springboard for a vigorous and sustained effort to foster new models of research publication at Harvard. This effort could take many forms, all of which will require the active involvement of Harvard's research community. On many levels, Harvard is changing the ways in which it does business."
Jeffrey Aguero, Libraries to Cut Academic Journals, Harvard Crimson, November 24, 2003.
Anon., Libraries take a stand, Harvard University Gazette, Feburary 5, 2004, p.10-11.
* Cornell University: Resolution regarding the University Library's Policies on Serials Acquisitions, with Special Reference to Negotiations with Elsevier, adopted by the Faculty Senate, December 17, 2003.
Summary: "At Cornell, Ithaca campus library budgets for materials increased by 149% during [the period 1986-2001], but the number of serials titles purchased increased by only 5% —at a time when the number of serials published increased by approximately 138%....Over the last decade Elsevier's price increases have often been over 10% and occasionally over 20% on a year to year basis....The [Elsevier] contract has been priced as a 'bundle,' that is, in such a way that, if the library cancels any of the Elsevier journals it currently subscribes to, the pricing of the other individual journals the library chooses to keep increases substantially. (The actual process is somewhat more complicated than this, but this is the end result.) Because the prices of the journals that are retained greatly increase when others are cancelled, the only way to achieve any real savings is to cancel a great many journals....The library, in consultation with affected faculty, has identified several hundred Elsevier journals for cancellation at the end of 2003....[T]he University Faculty Senate endorses the library's decision to withdraw from Elsevier's bundled pricing plan and undertake selective cancellation of Elsevier journals....Recognizing that the cost of Elsevier journals in particular is radically out of proportion with the importance of those journals to the library's serials collection (measured both in terms of the proportion of the total collection they represent and in terms of their use by and value to faculty and students), the University Faculty Senate encourages the library to seek in the near term, in consultation with the faculty, to reduce its expenditures on Elsevier journals to no more than 15% of its total annual serials acquisitions expenditures (from in excess of 20% in 2003)....Recognizing that the increasing control by large commercial publishers over the publication and distribution of the faculty's scholarship and research threatens to undermine core academic values promoting broad and rapid dissemination of new knowledge and unrestricted access to the results of scholarship and research, the University Faculty Senate encourages the library and the faculty vigorously to explore and support alternatives to commercial venues for scholarly communication."
Also see the Cornell web site with background information on the problem and more details on the Cornell response.
Paula Hane, Cornell and Other University Libraries to Cancel Elsevier Titles, Information Today, November 17, 2003.
Jonathan Knight, Cornell axes Elsevier journals as prices rise, Nature, November 20, 2003 (accessible only to subscribers).
Anon., After failed negotiations, CU Library cancels Elsevier journal package, Cornell Chronicle, December 11, 2003.
* Stanford University: Faculty senate approves measure targeting for-profit journal publishers, a press release issued February 24, 2004. The press release is based on a February 19 vote of the Faculty Senate.
Summary: With one dissenting vote, the Faculty Senate voted to encourage "libraries to cancel some costly journal subscriptions and faculty to withhold articles and reviews from publishers who engage in questionable pricing practices. The motion singled out publishing giant Elsevier as deserving special attention. 'We're not doing this to position ourselves to negotiate more effectively with Elsevier,' said University Librarian Michael Keller. 'We're doing this to change the whole scene. We're trying to change the fundamental nature of scholarly communication in the journal industry.'...'I think it's going to take a long time for its prestige and cachet to wear out,' [biology professor Robert] Simoni said. 'There are still so many people who think publishing in Cell is going to make their career that they'll still get submissions. But if institutions like Stanford and others stop subscribing to journals like Cell, authors will eventually realize that their work is not being seen. This is an evolutionary change and it will take time."
Michael Miller, Fac Sen discusses journal fees, The Stanford Daily, February 6, 2004. Stanford discusses how to respond to the serials crisis.
Ryan Sands, Fac Sen addresses costly journals, The Stanford Daily, February 20, 2004.