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Evaluation of cancellation of journal agreement with Elsevier 2018

For 17 months, the Bibsam Consortium did not have an agreement with the world’s largest scholarly publisher, Elsevier. There is now a summary of the consequences for the consortium, the concerned organizations and their researchers.

In May 2018, the Bibsam Consortium announced that they would cancel the agreement with Elsevier as of June 30 of the same year. The cancellation has stirred attention, both in the media and in academia. Open access and how open access is negotiated into publisher agreements has become known in more parts of the research community.

4,221 researchers and staff responded to an open survey. Many of them chose to submit free text responses about how the cancellation had affected them.

The evaluation shows that the cancellation affected researchers differently. While some were not affected at all in their work (37%), others were negatively (39%) or very negatively (15%) affected. There was no consensus on whether the cancellation was good or not. Many were ambivalent. For example, they understood or supported the reason for the cancellation but were still harmed by it.

The organisations participating in the Bibsam Consortium were less affected than expected by the cancellation. The cost of information work, interlibrary loans, and alternative access services relating to the cancellation were deemed marginal.

The Swedish vice chancellors recommended the cancellation at their general assembly in March 2018. The cancellation shows that they were ready to take a stand and suspend subscriptions with a publisher that cannot accommodate the needs and requirements of open science. This is a leap forward in the advancement of OA in Sweden. The cancellation was also crucial for finally arriving at a new agreement in November 2019.

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