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The New DEAL: OA and Digital Access.

Talks between a consortium of German universities, research institutes, and academic libraries and publishing giant Elsevier over the terms of continued access to research papers and publications look like they're going to the wire. The consortium, Project DEAL, wants to reach a national licensing agreement with Elsevier, which would give these German institutions access to the full range of relevant ejournals held by the publisher rather than having them pay to access individual publications. It also wants content produced by German academics and researchers to be available on an OA basis.

Project DEAL says more than 100 German universities and research institutions, including the universities of Heidelberg and Tubingen and the German Cancer Research Center, will not renew their contracts with Elsevier beyond 2017. The Helmholtz Association, which comprises 18 research centers in Germany, says in a statement that 16 centers have terminated their license agreements with Elsevier effective from the end of this year. Project DEAL is represented at the negotiations with Elsevier by the Hochschulrektorenkonferenze (HRK), an association of public and government-recognized universities in Germany.

Bernhard Mittermaier, head of the central library at the Julich Research Center and Project DEAL negotiation team member, says negotiators "are currently waiting for an offer from Elsevier which reflects our approach." This would mean that "[a]ll articles of corresponding authors from participating institutions are published open access with a CC BY license" and that all participating institutions get access to all journals, as well as "fair pricing based on publication output." He adds that negotiations "aren't broken down, there is only no movement. Yet, DEAL is very busy with the ongoing negotiations with SpringerNature and Wiley which are on a much better track."

As for the prospect of reaching an agreement with Elsevier, Mittermaier says, "There are two possible outcomes: Either a deal along the lines I have mentioned, or no deal. While I'm looking forward to an agreement according to our principles, we still have to think what a 'no deal' outcome would imply."

He continues, "Germany is currently proving that a country can live without Elsevier subscriptions. Elsevier might be thinking that they can live without revenue from Germany, and I'm sure they actually can. Their respectable margin will drop only by a few percent. Hence the Elsevier-Germany [relationship] actually may end in a stalemate...."

Harald Boersma, director of corporate relations at Elsevier, says, "We remain committed to reaching an agreement that is best for German researchers. We listened and agree with all of HRK's basic principles for a national license, and open access, and our proposals address them all. Reaching an agreement requires constructive discussion, which we've been trying to initiate multiple times. HRK so far has been reluctant to engage in such a conversation."

LIBER's Five Principles for OA Negotiations

Coincidentally, LIBER (Association of European Research Libraries) recently issued five principles for OA negotiations with publishers that are based "on the experiences of LIBER libraries in the past two years": Licensing and Open Access Go Hand-in-Hand; No Open Access, No Price Increase; Transparency for Licensing Deals: No Non-Disclosure; Keep Access Sustainable; and Usage Reports Should Include Open Access.

For No Open Access, No Price Increase, LIBER notes, "There is enough money in the system already. Libraries have paid annual price increases of up to 8% for years, supposedly to allow publishers to innovate. A key feature of innovation for the research community is that research outputs are freely available. Therefore if an agreement with publishers on open access cannot be reached in our contracts, future price increases should not be accepted."

Matthijs van Otegem, director of Erasmus University Rotterdam's University Library and co-chairman of LIBER's Working Group on Open Access, says, "Right now in many European countries library consortia are negotiating about new licenses that should bring about more open access. These principles are meant to support libraries to make this move."

For the principle Keep Access Sustainable, LIBER says that "some libraries have given up their rights to perpetual access in license agreement[s]. Perpetual access is, however, critical in a quickly-changing publishing environment. Libraries must secure sustainable access to content."

van Otegem explains, "Libraries are under financial pressure and in most negotiations a full flip to gold OA appears to cost more than the old subscription license. This is clearly the case in the UK, where extra funding was made available. In most countries there is no extra funding so libraries tend to accept less favourable licensing conditions in exchange for more open access. This is understandable, but we strongly feel that libraries should keep perpetual access."

Survey on Digital Services in Indian Libraries

In India, a survey of 116 academic libraries found that about 75% of them are digitizing their services, with more than 80% planning to go fully digital by 2020. Some 72% said they perceive costs to be a barrier to digitization, while about 61% said a lack of infrastructure is a major barrier. A mobile device or laptop is the preferred medium for 56% of respondents when accessing library services, while 60% said anytime and anywhere access of e-resources and a diverse range of content all at one place are the biggest benefits of a digital library.

The survey was recently undertaken by Indian digital library software and services supplier Knimbus. Its CEO, Rahul Agarwalla, says, "Over 80% of the respondents were librarians, while in a few cases the decision makers [surveyed] were the principal or a professor at the institution. Current customers of Knimbus were not included in the survey." He continues, "Although there is a clear understanding of the benefits accrued through a digital library, the assumption that it will be too expensive to implement is the main hurdle in the path of libraries going all out digital."

Links to the Source

Project DEAL'S contract notice for Elsevier

"Helmholtz Centers Terminate Agreements With Elsevier" ier

LIBER's principles for negotiations with publishers

Knimbus' website

John Charlton writes about technology law, and education for several publications Send your comments about this column to
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Title Annotation:INTERNATIONAL REPORT; open access
Author:Charlton, John
Publication:Information Today
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2017
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