Provost Woodruff-Borden et al. deliver ultimatum to exploitative Elsevier

Dear University of Oregon community,

I write with an important update on the status of our institutional negotiations with Elsevier, a major provider of scholarly content through UO Libraries. This follows earlier campus updates about collecting input and entering contract negotiations, and many months of engagement from our researchers across campus through town halls, meetings, our faculty senate library subcommittee, and online open feedback forms.

The cost of access to Elsevier’s journals package is the UO Libraries’ single-largest annual expenditure, taking up approximately 10% of the entire collections budget, with annual price increases that have vastly outpaced inflation and squeezed other collections and services. These unsustainably high and escalating costs ignore modern realities, such as the increasing prevalence of open scholarship, and undermine our very purpose as a public research institution—to advance the creation and dissemination of new knowledge.

Working in partnership with Oregon State University and Portland State University, with whom our agreement is shared, our librarians have pushed hard to break the status quo, advocating for our scholarly community and making reasonable proposals to Elsevier throughout the spring and summer.

These proposals have offered a fair price for access to content and data for researchers, and sought to advance a more open, inclusive, and sustainable future for scholarly publishing, as outlined in the UO Libraries’ common negotiating goals this past March. The Oregon State University faculty senate endorsed these principles in May, and they reflect the values in UO’s Open Access Scholarship Policyadopted by our faculty senate in March 2021.

Elsevier’s response and counter proposals to date have failed to meaningfully address these goals or provide a clear rationale for pricing beyond profit-seeking at the three institutions’ expense. The pace of negotiation has further been delayed by Elsevier’s slow response times and repeated postponement and rescheduling of negotiation meetings.

As a result, no deal has been reached, and our libraries have little choice but to allow our current contract to lapse. We stand alongside institutions such as the University of Washington, which just weeks ago announced a similar failure to reach agreement with Elsevier and will also enter 2023 with no big deal package in place.

Our three institutional libraries agree that further negotiation with Elsevier this year will not be productive, and all three will pause further engagement with Elsevier until they can assess the impact of the contract lapse. We intend to reopen negotiations together in 2023. Our librarians will continue to gather feedback and input from our campus communities to inform proposals and to push for a fair and sustainable resolution.

What this means for you:

  • Our contract with Elsevier will end on December 31, 2022. At that time, and until any new agreement is reached, we will cease receiving access to new 2023 Elsevier-published subscription content.
  • We will retain access to the content of our 189 most-used subscribed journals, that were published up to and including December 31, 2022.
  • We will also retain access to 609 journal backfiles with pre-1994 content that we purchased several years ago.
  • We will have access to a growing share of open access articles published in Elsevier journals, which are free to read, and for some journal titles this includes more than 70% of newly published content.
  • Our Libraries are committed to minimizing any inconvenience to researchers and ensuring that researchers are able to access the content they need, through a raft of alternative access measures, including interlibrary loan.
  • You will still be able to publish your work in or review for Elsevier journals; these activities are unaffected.

Learn more with our alternative access quick guide. For questions regarding Elsevier negotiations and alternative access to content, use our feedback form or contact [email protected].


Janet Woodruff-Borden
Acting Provost and Executive Vice President

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8 Responses to Provost Woodruff-Borden et al. deliver ultimatum to exploitative Elsevier

  1. uomatters says:

    It’s interesting: while UO’s provost starts with “I write with an important update on the status of our institutional negotiations with Elsevier, …”, OSU’s Ed Feser starts by giving credit to the librarians: “OSU’s librarians, together with colleagues from the University of Oregon and Portland State University, have been working for several months to negotiate their respective contracts with Elsevier,…”

    The OSU press release is at

  2. thedude says:

    The AAU should negotiate togther. Monopoly, meet monopsony. Oregon’s universities are too small to have much power.

  3. Foxtail says:

    Question for research faculty: Would this change make you hesitate to publish in Elsevier journals in the future?

    Before this, has anyone already stop publishing in Elsevier journals for the reason of their stranglehold on the academic journal market?

  4. Thedude says:

    Ted Bergstrom has I believe.

  5. Dogmatic Ratios says:

    Find any Elsevier article here:

  6. Uncle Bernie's nephew says:

    arxiv is a big part of the solution.

  7. honest Uncle Gangsta says:

    UOM you need more excitement in your life. 12 days without a post is a long time. Things can’t be that boring at UO!