A fight for open access

A dispute between the University of California (UC) and the publishing giant Elsevier echoes in academia. After months of negotiations, UC decided to terminate the agreement with the publisher as the latter was not willing to agree to UC’s terms. UC, where almost 10% of scientific articles in US are published, wanted to make those articles available to the public. Instead, Elsevier insisted on double payment for “open access” articles.

In May 2019, UC joined more than 135 educational institutions and organizations advocating open access, more financial transparency and less barriers in publishing scientific articles. Professor Steven Brenner from UC Berkeley said in an interview for The Daily Californian that the main purpose of the research at UC is to make the works available to the general public. He explained on the example of text and data mining that open access facilitates the process, whereas the traditional subscription model makes it almost impossible to mine.

Because of the termination of the contract with Elsevier, many researchers at UC are now unable to access important articles from their database. UC Berkeley Library helped and redirected them to alternative sources amongst which also open access articles. UC’s decision to terminate the contract might result in a change of perspective on scientific writing and publishing. The scientific community hopes this will encourage major changes in this area.