Edition 223 - November 2019

The Netherlands: Controversy around negotiations between universities and Elsevier

While more and more universities and policy makers are advocating for Open Science, publishers are trying to find “innovative” business models to insure that their profit margins, estimated at between 30 - 40 %, and higher than those of Apple, Google and of large oil companies, are preserved.


According to Science Guide, Elsevier is proposing a new model for Dutch universities.  As a negotiating offer, the publisher seems to have proposed to grant open access to all its journals with no increase in contract costs. The company looks willing to do this in exchange for an extensive pilot program on metadata. This model would be “based on publication and on targeted software that can advance the interests of Dutch academics and institutions in their analysis and production of scientific output.” Questions are raised though whether Elsevier should be granted with the power to influence public policy with its data, having in mind the company’s notoriety of being openly anti Open Science.


There has already been a backlash. University libraries and research institutes in California, Germany and Sweden have cancelled their subscriptions with Elsevier.


Interestingly, Elsevier is collaborating with the European Commission, who has Open Science high on the agenda for the upcoming Horizon Europe programme, being the subcontractor for Commission’s Open Science Monitor. And this although it has been campaigning against open science in the US and Europe for the last 15 years.

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