nationwide licensing

The journal market has seen ever greater concentrations of publishers in recent decades. Now, three major publishers in particular publish about two-thirds of all scientific journals. Since scientific publications are not interchangeable - libraries cannot subscribe to a cheaper journal instead of an expensive renowned journal because it does not contain the desired articles - libraries have to accept the conditions dictated to them by the publishers. To improve their negotiating position, libraries have been joining together in consortia for years, yet the room for negotiation is often very small.

Project DEAL is a new way to enter into negotiations with publishers. Under the auspices of the Alliance of Science Organizations, all academic libraries in Germany have joined forces and, with the agreement of their sponsoring organizations, have promised the negotiating team that they would do everything necessary to support the negotiations. In doing so, the following four points in particular were to be achieved:

  • Eligibility for participation for all scientific institutions in Germany
  • Full-text access to the publisher's entire portfolio
  • Open access publishing for all authors of participating institutions
  • Fair publication-based prices

Initially, negotiations were to start with the publishers Elsevier, SpringerNature and Wiley. Here, the negotiation team initially focused on the publisher Elsevier in the first year (2016). Unfortunately, the negotiations in 2016 did not lead to success, so that all participating institutions that were not bound by long-term contracts were asked to terminate their contracts with Elsevier as of December 31, 2016. TU Clausthal was also involved, so our accesses were switched off at the beginning of 2017. However, shortly thereafter, in February 2016, Elsevier re-enabled some journals as negotiations continued. But again in 2017, no agreement could be reached with the publisher Elsevier, so by the end of 2017, more institutions terminated their contracts with Elsevier. Elsevier initially kept the accesses open, but then when negotiations stalled in the summer of 2018, Elsevier shut down these accesses. At that time, Sweden had also terminated its contract with Elsevier, so Elsevier had to be consistent here as well. Officially, nothing else has happened since then.

In 2017, additional negotiations began with the publishers SpringerNature and Wiley. A contract was not concluded with these publishers in 2017 either, but since the negotiations were already further advanced than Elsevier had managed, a transitional contract was negotiated with these two publishers for 2018 on the same terms as in 2017. This contract was also extended with SpringerNature for 2019, with the intention of negotiating a final contract in 2019.

This was successful with the publisher Wiley. In early 2019, the successful conclusion of a framework agreement between the DEAL consortium and the publisher Wiley was announced. This contract was published under DOI: The desired negotiation points could all be implemented, although the pricing model can only gradually be converted into a publication-based model, as otherwise publication-heavy institutions would have to cope with excessive price increases. For TU Clausthal this means, among other things:

Access to all Wiley journals at least back to 1997 and permanently, which means that access to these volumes will continue even if the contract is not continued after its three-year term. In addition, all authors (first-time or corresponding authors) are allowed to publish their articles under a CC-BY license at no additional cost, accepted after July 1, 2019. They do not have to do anything else for this. The formalities and costs of settlement will be covered by the library. The Publication Fund will continue to be available for articles in open access-only journals. A 20% discount will be given for these articles.

With this success, there should be new momentum in negotiations with the other two publishers. It is worth fighting for improved conditions, because it leads to a better literature supply for everyone in Germany and also to a higher visibility of German research and the publications of the TU Clausthal. It also helps to implement the Open Access Policy of the TU Clausthal.

For the further negotiations, I would like to see more support from all sides so that the remaining negotiations can also be concluded successfully. We are not alone in this. In addition to Sweden, Norway has now also terminated its contract with Elsevier and the University of California (one of the larger associations in the USA) has also not renewed its contract with Elsevier.

I would like to thank all scientists again for their patience, because I know that the contractless situation with Elsevier makes literature research more difficult. I would like to point out once again that the University Library will cover the cost of interlibrary loans for Elsevier articles in order to provide a small compensation.

I encourage you all to publish many open access articles at Wiley. Then positive effects for science in Germany will surely appear soon.

DEAL nationwide licensing by Silke Frank is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.