Friday 10 July 2020

Elsevier and Dutch universities reach agreement on open access

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Publisher and data analysis company Elsevier and association of Dutch universities VSNU have reached an unprecedented €80m deal which will make new articles by Dutch scientists publicly available for the next four and a half years, the NRC reports.

Part of the deal is a stipulation that Dutch universities will buy new data analysis methods from Elsevier.

The agreement puts an end to two years of wrangling over open access to scientific articles, the paper said. University libraries and Dutch research finance institute NWO have long complained about what they claim are the prohibitive prices for subscriptions to prestigious medical journals such as Cell and The Lancet, which are among Elsevier’s titles.

Their lobby to introduce a model in which scientists pays a one-off amount to cover publication costs after which the – often publicly funded – research becomes publicly available has now paid off, the paper said.

Elsevier and the VSNU will together decide the kind of data analysis projects that will be needed. ‘We don’t simply want to know how many times the research has been cited but what the impact of the research is on society,’ VSNU negotiator Tim van der Hagen told the paper.

One example could be a large-scale analysis of data which would show which scientists or faculties have influenced climate policy, Van der Hagen said.

Not everyone is happy about Elsevier’s new role, the paper said, with many academics worried about becoming more, not less, dependent on the publisher.

But Van der Hagen said the contract with Elsevier stipulates that the publisher will not become the owner of any data and that projects can be stopped at any time. Universities are also free to work with other parties or refrain from working with Elsevier altogether.

Elsevier, headquartered in Amsterdam, is part of British multinational RELX which had a turnover of €8.7bn in 2019. It had dual British-Dutch status until 2018.

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