The University of California is a major creator and consumer of scholarly publications. As a state university system with a strong public service mission and a large research institution with worldwide influence, UC can play an important role in helping to reimagine models of scholarly publishing to make them more affordable, equitable, and open.

Different communities of UC’s faculty, staff, and librarians are working on a number of approaches to advocate for change in scholarly communication. Recent notable efforts include:

Journal negotiations

In 2018 and 2019, UC is negotiating for open access and affordable subscription costs with Elsevier and other publishers as contracts with those publishers come up for renewal.

  • Read the UC and Elsevier page for the latest update on UC’s negotiations with Elsevier, key things to know, statements from faculty, and selected news coverage.
  • The UC Libraries Journal Negotiations FAQs provide information about negotiation goals, status, and likely impact on the university community, with a particular focus on UC’s negotiation with Elsevier.
  • The Alternative Access to Articles guide provides information on ways to access articles that the library does not subscribe to.

Systemwide UC committees laid the groundwork for negotiations with public statements explaining the context, rationale, and principles driving these efforts, and continue to express support.

  • In April 2018 the UC Academic Senate University Committee On Library And Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC) endorsed and distributed The Declaration of Rights and Principles to Transform Scholarly Communication, a list of 18 principles to guide journal license negotiations with commercial publishers.
  • Championing Change in Journal Negotiations: a Call to Action was issued by the UC Systemwide Library And Scholarly Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC). It was endorsed by the UC Academic Senate University Committee On Library And Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC) (see 5/29/2018 letter of endorsement [PDF]) and the UC Council of University Librarians (CoUL).
  • The Academic Senate’s UCOLASC also unanimously endorsed the convening of a publisher negotiation task force by the Council of University Librarians (CoUL), and that task force’s priorities for negotiations (see 5/29/2018 letter of endorsement [PDF]).
  • The Council of Vice Chancellors (COVC) wrote a letter to the Chairs of CoUL and UCOLASC expressing support for the Elsevier negotiations (see 12/18/2018 letter of support [PDF]). The UC Systemwide Library And Scholarly Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC) also sent a letter in support of the negotiations to Provost Michael Brown (see 12/1/2018 letter of support [PDF]).

Pathways to Open Access

In March 2018, the UC Libraries shared a toolkit that will be used to help guide decision-making in redirecting library funds to support open access (OA). In order to make informed and data-driven decisions about which endeavors to pursue at scale, the UC Libraries analyzed the various approaches to or models for achieving open access and the actionable strategies that exist to implement each approach.

This analysis, compiled in the Pathways to OA documents, was endorsed by the UC Council of University Librarians (CoUL) in February 2018. Pathways to OA will now assist campus libraries and the California Digital Library with individual and, where appropriate, collective decision-making about which OA strategies, possible next steps, or experiments to pursue in order to achieve large-scale transition to OA.

The release of the Pathways to OA documents was followed by a blog post discussing next steps and a two-day working forum at UC Berkeley attended by 125 participants from around North America.

More UC support for open access

The University of California is supporting the transition to a more open and sustainable scholarly communication through additional initiatives and work with publishers, including:

  • UC has negotiated Publishing Discounts for authors who pay Article Processing charges (APCs) to make their publications open access.
  • A number of UC campuses have signed on to OA2020. OA2020 is an international effort to convert the existing corpus of scholarly journals from subscription-based (“paywall”) access to Open Access (“OA”). The OA2020 movement intends to accomplish this through institutions converting resources currently spent on journal subscriptions into funds that support sustainable OA business models. OA2020 is not dependent upon a particular OA business model, but rather the reapportioning of funds from subscriptions to OA publishing—resulting in journal literature that is readable and shareable by all.
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