[Faculty] UC libraries’ negotiations

Marlene Odel marlene at citrus.ucr.edu
Thu Jan 8 07:46:28 PST 2004

January 7, 2004

Dear UC Faculty,

We are pleased to report the successful conclusion of the UC libraries' 
negotiations with the publisher Reed Elsevier, and to announce actions 
being taken by UC Libraries and the Academic Senate to address the crisis 
inherent in a scholarly communication process that is economically no 
longer sustainable.

Elsevier contract
 From January 1, 2004, the UC community will have access to a selected list 
of c.1,200 of the company's scholarly journals, including titles produced 
by Harcourt Health Sciences, Academic Press, and Cell Press.*  The 
five-year contract accommodates the University's deteriorating budget 
situation without sacrificing access to the titles selected by each campus. 
We are not announcing the negotiated price but we have arrested for now the 
price inflation that has been common in this market.

We believe that this outcome which is in harmony with UC proposals, is 
sensitive to the significant concerns expressed by faculty and others, 
q          individual faculty actions (such as the protest raised by 
Professors Walter and Yamamoto, and by the faculty editors, authors, and 
reviewers of Elsevier publications who voiced their opinions and concern 
via a variety of means);
q          the formal actions of divisional senates as reflected in a 
resolution passed at UC Santa Cruz on 10/24/03 (see 
q          the numerous formal and informal actions of divisional senate 
library committees including letters to campus faculty circulated at 
and San Francisco (<http://senate.ucsc.edu/>http://senate.ucsc.edu/), and 
public meetings convened at, Davis, Irvine, Riverside, and UCLA; and
q          the consistent support and leadership shown by the Academic 
Council, the Systemwide Senate leadership, and by the Councils of 
Chancellors and Vice Chancellors.

Actions addressing the economic challenges of scholarly communication

However great our success in securing an acceptable contract with a single 
publisher, we have only just begun to address the deeper structural 
problems in scholarly communication that fundamentally threaten the academy.

The economics of scholarly journal publishing are incontrovertibly 
unsustainable. Taming price inflation is not enough. Unless we change the 
current model, academic libraries and universities will be unable to 
continue providing faculty, students, and staff with the access they 
require to the world's scholarship and knowledge. Scholars will be unable 
to make the results of their research widely available.

These are not statements about any single company, about the strengths and 
weaknesses of for- and not-for-profit publishing, or about the prospects of 
open-access versus subscription-based journal models. They are merely 
observations about economic reality. The unit cost of scholarly journals 
increased 200% between 1986 and 2002, while the Consumer Price Index rose 
only 50%. Some of this increase undoubtedly reflects the knowledge 
explosion; some may reflect inefficiencies in the market. In any case, in 
recent years we are have been paying more for access to a smaller 
proportion of the world's published knowledge. If we are to halt or even 
reverse that trend, we must aggressively ramp up and institutionalize our 
efforts to change the scholarly communication process. Harvard, Cornell, 
and many other leading universities are also grappling with these same issues.

Of course we appreciate the value contributed voluntarily to the publishing 
process by scholars (as authors, reviewers, and editors) and by libraries 
(who facilitate and manage the use and availability of the scholarly 
record). We also appreciate the value that publishers add, yet we question 
the equitability of its price tag in a number of cases. At a time when so 
many US universities are fundamentally re-thinking how they can continue to 
support high-quality research and teaching, it would be irresponsible not 
to do so.

Accordingly, the University's libraries, the Systemwide Senate leadership, 
and the UC administration are taking action and committing themselves to 
evaluating scholarly communication in all forms including periodicals and 
monographs, and to finding the most cost effective methods of making 
scholarly work available to the world.

The UC Libraries are working aggressively to:
q          stretch collections dollars by acting consortially to license 
online journals and reference databases;
q          inform themselves and faculty colleagues about the dimensions of 
and possible ways to address the crisis in the economics of scholarly 
communication; and
q          support alternative means for publishing scholarly materials 
that make high-quality peer-reviewed work available at an affordable price.

In the years ahead our work will be accelerated and expanded, and described 
along with periodic updates at 

The University of California Academic Council has recently established a 
Special Committee on Scholarly Communication (SCSC). It will soon begin a 
careful analysis of alternative publications methods for both scholarly 
periodicals and monographs; methods of evaluating and ensuring high-quality 
publications that can be used in academic promotion and tenure; the most 
appropriate business model(s) for publications; and possible effects on 
scholarly societies of different publication methods, among topics related 
to scholarly communications.
The SCSC looks forward to working with other universities to optimize 
dissemination of faculties' discovery of knowledge, both in terms of 
availability and cost.

The success of these actions, like that of our negotiations with Elsevier, 
will depend inevitably on faculty's proactive support. We look forward to 
and encourage that support and activism over the coming years. Faculty will 
be consulted closely in our work and kept informed about our progress. This 
level of consultation is essential because, ultimately, the power to change 
the economics of scholarly publishing lies with those who produce its 
intellectual contents.

Lawrence H. Pitts, Chair
University of California Academic Senate

Thomas Leonard, Berkeley
Daniel Greenstein, California Digital Library
Marilyn Sharrow, Davis
Gerald Munoff, Irvine
Gary Strong, Los Angeles
Bruce Miller, Merced
Ruth M. Jackson, Riverside
Brian Schottlaender, San Diego
Karen Butter, San Francisco
Sarah Pritchard, Santa Barbara
Robert White (Acting), Santa Cruz

* From January 1, 2004, the University of California will lose access to 
approximately 200 journals that were not selected by any campus.
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