The Impacts of Elsevier’s Multi-Million Dollar Deal with University of California

What is a True Sustainable Read & Publish Model?

By IGI Global on Apr 7, 2021

On March 16, the University of California (UC) system signed a multimillion-dollar read and publish deal with Elsevier. This year-long negotiation was followed by the university system’s highly publicized cancelling their $11 million journal subscriptions from the publisher in 2019, and, historically, is now the largest read and publish agreement in North America. Although, on the surface, this negotiation has been seen as a positive push for larger publishers to become more in line with Plan S and the OA movement; however, the entire academic community is questioning the long-term impacts of this negotiation. This includes how it will impact future funding opportunities, library budgets, researchers’ OA publishing opportunities, and publishers’ opportunity
to offer.

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  • Access to 6,000+ E-Books & 140+ E-Journals
  • Maximizes Library Budgets
  • Sustainable OA Model
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The Elsevier Deal at a Glance

According to Inside Higher Education article, under this deal the UC library system will pay US$ 10.7 million to Elsevier for the first year and will pay an increase of 2.6% per year. Through this investment, all ten (10) campuses will regain access to their lapsed e-journal collections, articles contributed by UC authors, and they will be granted access to a few additional journals. Additionally, UC researchers will be able to submit and publish OA articles to any of Elsevier’s 2,500 journals and receive a 15% discount on the standard OA article processing charges (APCs). Based on this model, in the first year:

  • Each institution will have to pay up to US$ 1,070,000 for access to Elsevier’s scholarly journals. According to our calculations based on the numbers available, the average cost per journal as a part of this deal will be over US$ 428.
  • UC researchers will receive a 15% discount on OA APCs and a 10% discount on OA APCs for journals from Cell Press and The Lancet. According to the publishers’ website, Elsevier’s OA APCs range from US$ 150-9,900 (the highly indexed journals average approximately US$ 5,000).
  • The UC libraries will also automatically contribute US$ 1,000 towards the OA fees for UC corresponding authors. According to UC’s website, if the researcher does not have grant funding for their APC, the library will outright cover the entire cost after the discount.

Additionally, according to a response from Elsevier for a Scholarly Kitchen article, “The UC agreement includes all Elsevier journals that offer an OA option and are eligible for inclusion in transformative agreements. This represents the overwhelming majority of our portfolio and covers the overwhelming majority of UC articles published with Elsevier. There are a small number of journals we publish on behalf of society or other third-party partners, where we do not have permission to include these in transformative agreements and/or that are subscription-only.”

How Does This Compare with IGI Global’s Read & Publish Model?

Due to these factors and breakdowns, publishers, librarians, and researchers are questioning the overall sustainability of this model, with many factors unknown, including:

  • “How many journals are actually offered in this deal?”
  • “What will the future negotiations truly look like for UC libraries?”
  • “How much will OA APCs be for researchers long-term?”

Additionally, for other publishers, it puts into question – “Is this the future of acquisitions?” As larger publishers will be set to absorb most library budgets and monopolize researchers’ publishing endeavors, not only will other publishers’ communities of researchers start to decline, but the researchers are also being impacted as their options to work with various publishers narrow.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of questions remaining, but one thing is clear is that through these negotiations, the threat of double-dipping and difficulty for researchers to afford OA APCs is still looming. Additionally, the astronomical costs of these deals may limit the ability of libraries to strike future deals with Elsevier and the other larger publishers.

Understanding this threat, early in 2018 (before mandates like Plan S), IGI Global unveiled their OA Fee Waiver (Read and Publish) Initiative that provides a truly sustainable and highly transparent solution to read and publish models. Under this initiative, when libraries invest in IGI Global’s e-Book Collections or e-Journal Collections, IGI Global will match their investment to provide 100% OA APC subsidies for their students, faculty, and staff at their institution when their work is submitted and accepted (following the peer review process) under OA into any IGI Global reference book or journal.

“IGI Global’s philosophy from day one has been, and will continue to be, publishing content based on the innovative nature and quality presented in the work as opposed to focusing purely on profitability,” stated Dr. Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, President and CEO of IGI Global. “So, while we understand the need for there to be article processing charges associated with publishing under open access in order to cover the costs of producing peer-reviewed journal content, we also feel that it is important for publishers to review these fees, and determine in what ways could these costs be subsidized?”

This read and publish model has been adopted by thousands of institutions worldwide as well as by leading consortia, including the Carolina Consortia, Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL), German National Library of Economics (ZBW), The National Science and Technology Library (NSTL) in China, Saudi Digital Library. Taiwan Academic E-Book & Database Consortium (TAEBDC), and more. Understanding that IGI Global’s e-Journal Collections are more focused than the “Big Five Publishers,” the overall costs of the collections are nominally lower, but when you factor in all of the elements this model is much more beneficial for librarians and researchers alike. Additionally, this model is not only limited to e-journals, but our e-Book Collections, as well.

IGI Global Read & Publish Model vs. Elsevier’s Read & Publish Model


IGI Global


Purchasing Options and Models

Subscription, Perpetual, EBA & DDA


Average Cost Per E-Journal

US$ 38

Over US$ 428

Average Discount Per Journal

96% Discount

10% Discount

Average Cost of Journal OA APCs

US$ 1,000
(including Web of Science and Scopus journals)

US$ 2,800
(Web of Science and Scopus Average OA APC US$ 5,000)

Average OA APC Discount through Read & Publish

100% Discount

15% Discount

Benefits for Researchers:

As noted above, when libraries invest in IGI Global’s e-Journal or e-Book Collections, researchers will receive 100% OA APC subsidies when their work is submitted and accepted into an IGI Global reference book or journal. The average cost of IGI Global’s OA APCs is US$ 1,000 and the lowest cost of our e-Journal Collection (140+ e-journals) is US$ 5,650; therefore, institutions will receive up to six waivers. However, IGI Global’s flexibility allows for additional waivers to be assigned based on interest in publishing OA with IGI Global, multi-year commitments, and we are able to retroactively open research from patrons of the institution based on the customers’ needs to ensure that no institutions are experiencing “the double-dip.”

IGI Global offers 32 full Gold OA journals and 140+ hybrid journals that enable researchers to publish under OA. These journals are indexed in prestigious indices, including Web of Science and Scopus and the average OA APC is much lower than other publishers. Therefore, when they are accepted into any of these journals (following the peer review) and their institution has invested in our e-Book and/or e-Journal collections, they are able to take advantage of these waivers. Additionally, through IGI Global’s OA publishing offering, they can benefit from:

  • Rigorous and Expedite OA Publishing Process Taking as Little as 30 Days
  • Research is Fully Free and Accessible to All (Creative Commons BY License)
  • Increased Discoverability of Published Content (89% Higher Download Rate)
  • Acceleration of Citation Impact & Increased Indexing Potential
  • Greater Visibility & Wider Professional Recognition
  • Opportunities for Networking & Collaboration
  • Supports Overall Career Advancement
  • And More.

Additionally, they benefit from having access to IGI Global’s titles for their personal research, course syllabi, and professional development. It also supports IGI Global editors’ and authors’ research, as it provides more exposure to IGI Global’s entire collection of titles increasing the overall citation impact of their titles.

Benefits from Librarians:

The benefits to librarians are that they can truly maximize their budget and access high-quality research at affordable rates. Through working directly with IGI Global (and many other medium- and smaller-sized publishers), they are able to receive a deal that fully meets their needs and provides flexibility. This includes:

  • Acquiring peer-reviewed research at a fraction of the individual title cost.
  • Provide OA funding support for their patrons and boost the recognition for the institution’s research.
  • Provide a credible OA publishing outlet for their institution.
  • Benefit from flexible acquisitions models (perpetual, subscription, EBA & DDA models).
  • Receive 100% credits for previously purchased titles to go toward IGI Global’s eCollections.
  • Support the overall OA movement and mandates like Plan S.
  • And more.

One of the most advantageous benefits are the price points of IGI Global’s e-Book and e-Journal Collections:

  • IGI Global e-Book Collection (©2000-2021; 6,000+ e-Books) One-Time Perpetual Purchase: US$ 49,950 (average cost per e-book as a part of this collection: US$ 8)
  • IGI Global e-Journal Collection(©2000-2021; 140+ e-Journals) Annual Subscription Cost Offered Starting at: US$ 5,650 (average cost per e-journal as a part of this collection: US$ 38)

“We are transparent in regards to all of our pricing and are willing to be flexible and provide options for libraries of all sizes. At the end of the day, our goal is to ensure that libraries are able to acquire our research, researchers are able to share their research, and we are able to pay our employees while covering the costs of publishing our publications.” explains Mr. Nick Newcomer, Senior Director of Marketing and Sales. “The more our research is utilized and made available the better it is for institutions, researchers, and us, as a publisher.”

Additionally, all of IGI Global’s digital resources are hosted on the InfoSci® platform, which provides:

  • Remote Access Options (IP Authentication with Proxy, Referral URLs, and More)
  • No DRM and No Additional Charge for Multi-User Licensing
  • No Embargo of Content (Research Available Months in Advance of Print Release)
  • No Maintenance, Hosting, or Archiving Fees
  • Remote Access Options (IP Authentication with Proxy, Referral URLs, and More)
  • COUNTER Compliant and Free Marc Records
  • Archival Access through CLOCKSS and LOCKSS
  • Advanced, Fast, Full-Text Search Engine with Ranked Results
  • Full-Text HTML and PDF Viewing Options
  • Formatted Citations with Ability to Export to RefWorks and EasyBib
  • And More.

Although, IGI Global’s eCollections are more focused than Elsevier’s; overall, it showcases how advantageous it is for librarians to collaborate with medium-sized publishers and through investing in similar collections from other publishers, they are able to increase negotiation power with the larger publishers. Additionally, the library is able to provide 100% OA APCs without having to negotiate upfront with IGI Global for additional discounts and then, still be faced with paying a portion of the APC out of their own funding.

“While many institutions support open-access publications, some do not have the budget, staff or administrative systems in place to support the successful implementation of a drastically different kind of big deal to what they are used to,” Ms. Elaine Westbrooks, Vice Provost for University Libraries and University Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explained to Inside Higher Ed, regarding the Elsevier deal.

Through IGI Global’s model, libraries have a clear-cut and flexible option to easily benefit from a read and publish model without the need to negotiate over the level of OA funding or pricing of the eCollections. 

What is the Future of Read & Publish Models?

According to SPARC’s database of negotiations and cancellations, 16 major institutions have either cancelled or cut their investment in Elsevier’s collections for the 2020-2021 year. Leading industry experts to predict that similar negotiations will be offered with the larger institution systems, including the University of North Carolina system and State University of New York Libraries Consortium. Additionally, other larger publishers are working or have solidified similar agreements, which include Springer and Wiley. Although this is one step forward in negotiating with the larger publishers and providing an opportunity for researchers to publish affordably under OA, many experts fear that in the long run, it will continue the monopolization of academic publishing. Through models like IGI Global’s OA Fee Waiver (Read and Publish) Initiative, librarians, researchers, and publishers alike can create a sustainable open access model, as it will provide a holistic approach to:

  • Sustaining or increasing research funding, providing a credible publishing outlet, as well as increasing the discoverability of researchers’ published works under open access.
  • Maximizing libraries’ budgets and increasing the availability of peer-reviewed research to institutions worldwide and to underfunded institutions.
  • Sustaining the financial costs associated with publishing peer-reviewed research (i.e. peer review process, staffing, metadata feeds, MARC records, etc.) of academic publishers.
  • Supporting the OA movement through a sustainable model and strengthening the collaboration between publishers, librarians, and researchers.

 “We feel so privileged to continue our long-standing tradition of publishing some of the most innovative research results available by researchers from all over the world. We truly believe that it is incredibly important to allow the researchers to have a variety of publishing and content access options, and I cannot stress enough how critical it is to ensure that small to medium-sized publishers are still part of the picture and not edged out by some of these wider known publishers and the big deal. When we launched IGI Global’s OA Fee Waiver (Read and Publish) Initiative our aim was for this program to be incomparable, keeping it simple and straightforward with a high level of transparency, a truly mutually beneficial arrangement for all parties. And to date, the program has lived up to our expectations, and more," explained Ms. Lindsay Wertman, Managing Director of IGI Global

For more information regarding IGI Global’s OA Fee Waiver Initiative, IGI Global’s eCollections, or OA visit IGI Global’s website or contact your regional representative below:

Mr. Nick Newcomer,
Senior Director of Marketing and Sales

Ms. Brittany Haynes,
Assistant Director of e-Collections (Southeast, Southwest, & Midwest)

Mr. Jared Peterman,
e-Collections Specialist Coordinator (Northeast & Pacific Coast)

Ms. Genevieve Robinson,
e-Collections Specialist Coordinator (West & Canada)


Mr. Richard Illingworth, Director of Sales (EMEA, Australia & New Zealand)

Ms. Yvonne Li, Managing Director of IGI Science and Technology, Ltd. (IGI Global’s Subsidiary Office in Beijing, China)

Ms. Jiayan Fu,
Account Manager (IGI Global’s Subsidiary Office in Beijing, China)

Ms. Lingxi Kong,
Customer Service Specialist (IGI Global’s Subsidiary Office in Beijing, China)

Mr. Patrick Hoffman,
e-Collections Specialist


About IGI Global

About IGI Global: Founded in 1988, IGI Global, an international academic publisher, is committed to producing the highest quality research (as an active full member of the Committee on Publication Ethics “COPE”) and ensuring the timely dissemination of innovative research findings through an expeditious and technologically advanced publishing process. Through their commitment to supporting the research community ahead of profitability, and taking a chance on virtually untapped topic coverage, IGI Global has been able to collaborate with over 100,000+ researchers from some of the most prominent research institutions around the world to publish the most emerging, peer-reviewed research across 350+ topics in 11 subject areas including business, computer science, education, engineering, social sciences, and more. To learn more about IGI Global, click here.

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