The University of California system took a bold stand in its push for publicly-funded UC research to be accessible to the world, free of charge. It chose not to renew its nearly $11 million-a-year scholarly journal subscription to publishing industry giant Elsevier, producer of more than 1,500 scientific journals.
The UC had been trying to negotiate a new subscription deal with Elsevier since Dec. 31, when its five-year license ended. But Elsevier was unwilling to provide the main goal of UC’s fight: achieving what’s called universal open access publishing, so that the 10-campus system’s research could be freely available to anyone, anywhere.
“Make no mistake: The prices of scientific journals now are so high that not a single university in the U.S. — not the University of California, not Harvard, no institution — can afford to subscribe to them all,” says professor Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, University Librarian at UC Berkeley and co-chair of UC’s negotiation team.
“Publishing our scholarship behind a paywall deprives people of the access to and benefits of publicly-funded research. That is terrible for society.”A letter to the UC Berkeley academic community from Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, Barbara Spackman, chair of Berkeley’s Academic Senate, and MacKie-Mason breaks down the news to help professors and other researchers understand what happened and what happens next.
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