Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Elsevier and the University of California

Our University of California (UC) colleagues (and their students) are shouldering a tremendous burden on our behalf as they stand up to Elsevier. What may be less apparent is why their opposition is so important. In recent decades through mergers, acquisitions, and a rebranding of their business strategies, Elsevier has increased their control over scholarship by offering products, services, and data to governments, funders, higher ed institutions, learned societies, libraries, multilateral agencies, and ranking agencies. This has resulted in substantial dependence on Elsevier to extract and analyze data, and to determine what counts as prestigious and of high-quality. This is the domain of scholars (who provide our time, labor, and monies) yet Elsevier (and other publishers) are often seen as authorities of quality. Elsevier’s recent profit margins rest comfortably at or above 30which come at the expense of library book budgets and learned societies. Scholars must work collectively to limit corporate authority (in prestige and pricing) given the damage to research integrity and financial sustainability for universities, libraries, and students (e.g., textbooks). (See the Armacost Library Manifesto; additional citations available upon request.) 

As responsible stewards, Library faculty have resisted Big Deals, defended patron privacy, developed an open-access repository, and begun to discuss how to challenge this emerging model of business. (See the Armacost Library Manifesto.) With the support of our new Associate Provost and Director, we ask that you join us in support of our UC colleagues to rebalance power in the circulation of our own scholarly communications. 
  • Upload your scholarship and creative work to Our House in InSPIRe, as permitted by your contracts 
  • Support libraries as they negotiate fair contracts; back them up when negotiations fail. 
  • Support mission-driven, academic-led publishers with your content 
  • Support mission-driven, academic-led publishing with your labor. 
  • Support mission-driven, academic-led initiatives by committing funds. 


Les Canterbury 
Lua Gregory 
Shana Higgins 
Bill Kennedy 
Janelle Julagay 
Paige Mann 
Sanjeet Mann 

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