UC-Elsevier Transformative Agreement Contrasted with the CSU-Elsevier Transformative Agreement

Big news today in the Academic Publishing world: the University of California and Elsevier reached a Transformative Agreement, the biggest of its kind in history. Congrats to the UC negotiation team for achieving a truly transformative, transformative agreement! The unique leverage of the UC as the world’s largest producer of academic journal literature and a system with a decade of leadership and innovation in the Open Access movement made this moment possible. It will certainly be a blueprint for other institutions, including the CSUs, to follow.

By way of contributing something to the broader conversation, I’ve put together a list of some of the most salient differences between the respective Elsevier transformative agreements entered into by the CSU and the UC:

  • While the CSU deal covers publishing costs for only a subset of mostly hybrid Elsevier journals, the UC deal covers publishing costs for authors across all Elsevier journals, including both gold open access and hybrid, even Cell and Lancet journals for the first time in history.
  • While the CSU deal is opt-in for authors (nudging them via the Author Journey platform user experience to select Open Access and have their APC covered), the UC deal is expressly opt-out for authors.
  • While the CSU deal covers the full amount of APCs under the Transformative Agreement out of system-wide Library funding, the UCs follow a multi-payer model in which costs are shared by Libraries and grant funders.
  • While the CSU deal was a pilot deal with a flat price over two years, the UC deal is four years, whose core price covering publication fees is set to inflate at 2.6%/year.
  • While the CSU deal is on track to cover about 400 total articles (200/year) being published open access by our corresponding authors, the UC deal will cover about 4400 articles/year.

It will be fascinating to see how the UC agreement unfolds and how it impacts our internal deliberations and decisions in the CSU.