The official banner for The State University of New York (SUNY). The SUNY system reached a deal with scientific and medical journal publisher, Elsevier, that will save SUNY $7 million per year. PUBLIC DOMAIN

After more than a year of negotiations, the State University of New York (SUNY) system has reached a new 3-year agreement with Elsevier that will save SUNY institutions $7 million per year. 

The State University of New York Libraries Consortium announced on April 7 that it will not renew its bundled journal subscription deal with the scientific and medical journal publisher, Elsevier, but it will instead reduce its subscription package. 

The bundled subscription is also known as the “big deal” with Elsevier, meaning that the publisher provides full-text access to all or most of its journal collection to a subscribing institution. 

The costs saved from the agreement will be returned to SUNY campuses. 

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“While Elsevier did make some accommodations in recognition of our requirements, a vast difference remained between their proposed charges and our assessment of the value of the collection,” according to the announcement. 

ScienceDirect, a database of scientific and medical research and a part of the bundled package, was the only Elsevier product that was affected in the negotiation. 

The SUNY-wide subscription to ScienceDirect previously included about 3,800 journal titles. However, the new agreement will include a core list of approximately 250 titles hosted on the ScienceDirect platform, eliminating inactive and low-use titles. The titles were chosen based on the volume and intensity of usage across the SUNY system.

An agreement on access to the full ScienceDirect journal package has not yet been reached.

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“We regret that we weren’t able to reach such an agreement for the complete journal collection,” Heath Martin, the associate dean of collection strategy and management at the University Libraries, said. “But we believe the new agreement represents a fair and reasonable value to the university by securing access to a streamlined collection of the most needed Elsevier content at a significantly reduced cost.”

The new agreement was structured to provide the best balance of content flexibility and cost controls. SUNY paid more than $9 million for access to ScienceDirect last year — the reduced package will save 70% of their costs annually. 

Similarly, after months of trying to negotiate a contract with Elsevier for access to ScienceDirect offerings, the University of California decided not to renew its Elsevier subscriptions last year. Their subscription cost up to $10 million a year and Elsevier wasn’t willing to meet a new reduced price. 

Elsevier also requires faculty authors to pay article publication charges for publication in Elsevier journals. Once published, authors need to pay extra to make it open access, meaning anyone in the world can read the papers for free. These fees can reach thousands of dollars per journal article. 

The University of California terminated their subscription in a push for open access to publicly funded research. 

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The SUNY University Faculty Senate recommended that the state system use the saved funds to pay for access to scholarly works outside Elsevier, and to fund article processing charges in open access peer-reviewed journals, according to an October 2019 resolution

The new agreement includes a 10% discount on article processing charges for all SUNY authors wishing to publish open access articles in Elsevier journals, according to an announcement from the Stony Brook University Libraries.

“The University Libraries will continue to work with the SBU community to assess needs related to Elsevier journal content and, whenever possible, to facilitate access through the best possible means,” Martin said. 

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