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CSU - Elsevier Negotiations

Published November 15, 2019

The CSU Libraries’ contract for Science Direct, an interdisciplinary package of Elsevier journals,  is scheduled to end December 31, 2019. The Chancellor’s Office and the CSUs are negotiating for a transformative agreement that seeks to limit excessive price increases, allows CSU authors to retain their copyrights, and eliminates all Article Publishing Charges (APCs).

These negotiations promise to be difficult considering a history of rapidly increasing costs and a push back against faculty publishing rights by Elsevier. Similar negotiations between libraries asking Elsevier for transformative agreements have been unsuccessful. The UC system ended negotiations for a new journal subscription contract, with the support of its Academic Senate.  (Other publishers such as Cambridge University Press and Springer Nature have arrived at satisfactory transformative agreements with library consortia.) Given Elsevier’s reluctance to negotiate along these lines libraries worldwide are walking away from large bundles of Elsevier content, such as Science Direct.

Elsevier content is important to our campus; however, it is also expensive and continually increasing in cost. The CSU paid $3,949,602 for its 2018-2019 subscription to current journals in ScienceDirect at a 4.5% increase over the previous year. The CSULB portion of this subscription cost for the 2019 calendar year was $306,745, consuming 12% of the University Library’s materials expenditure for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and representing 3-times the total amount spent on book purchases for all disciplines. The relentless rise in subscription costs means that over time CSU libraries purchase fewer titles. This erosion in access is further exacerbated by Elsevier’s resistance to allowing CSU authors to publish their work open access at no charge.

The current environment in scholarly communications is transitioning toward transformative agreements that prioritize open access and control costs. We encourage faculty to read further about these matters by reviewing the following documents:


We also ask that you support the work of the Council of Library Deans (COLD) Elsevier SWAT Team and the Chancellor’s Office as they negotiate with Elsevier. The survey below is to ascertain our campus’ commitment to working within the COLD/CO process and to not engage in conversations with Elsevier.