UK Universities are coming to the end of 5-year agreement with Elsevier which provides Edge Hill staff and students with access to more than 1,800 journals on the Elsevier ScienceDirect platform. Edge Hill are part of a UK-wide consortium that is working in partnership with Jisc to negotiate a new deal for 2022 and beyond after the current agreement expires on 31 December 2021. The negotiations are aiming to secure a transformative journal agreement, otherwise known as a ‘Read and publish’ (R&P) deal that seeks to constrain costs and ensure full and immediate open access to UK research published by Elsevier.

What is a Read and publish (R&P) agreement?

Read and publish agreements aim to transition spend from paying for subscription services (paywalled content) to paying for reading and open access (OA) publishing services. Edge Hill has already signed several Read and publish deals with major publishers. These deals allow EHU authors to publish gold open access (OA) without incurring article processing charges (APCs), whilst continuing to gain access to subscription content. Elsevier are now the only large commercial publisher without a Read and publish agreement in place with the sector.

Why is this important?

Edge Hill promotes and supports the open and unfettered dissemination of research, underpinned by the University’s Statement of support for open research. Securing a Read and publish agreement with Elsevier will enable EHU authors publishing research in Elsevier journals to do so open access without charge, as well as ensuring that authors can comply with funder mandates as required by the ‘Plan S’ initiative for open access publishing.

As a sector our spend on Elsevier journals now exceeds £50m annually, comprised of subscription spend and charges for open access publishing. Elsevier frequently reports some of the highest profits in publishing and spend on their content takes up an increasing proportion of university budgets. Jisc reports that in 2019, 34% of the total amount paid to the top twelve publishers on Jisc negotiated agreements was to Elsevier ( It is now crucial that the sector secures an agreement that supports full and immediate open access to research whilst also reducing total sector spend to sustainable levels. Some additional facts about the negotiation are shared below and further information can be found on the Jisc negotiation web pages.

This slide was created by Jisc and the University of Leeds and is shared under a CC-BY licence

What will happen if a deal can’t be reached?

We are exploring a range of alternative options to provide access should an agreement with Elsevier not be reached. In this scenario Edge Hill would retain access to some material published up to the end of 2021 (known as perpetual access rights), and access to articles already published as open access would continue. Articles no longer available could be requested through our Interlibrary Loan service (branded ‘You want it, We get it’). At this stage in the negotiations we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached, but the sector is taking a cautious approach by preparing for every eventuality to minimise potential disruption to students, staff, and researchers.

As negotiations continue, Library and Learning Services will share important updates with staff, as well as discussing the potential impact of any changes to Elsevier access on your teaching and research. If you have any comments or questions about the negotiation then please do get in touch with Anna Franca, Collections Manager – [email protected]

Update 2nd November 2021

Following an evaluation of the latest proposal from Elsevier, the sector has issued a strong recommendation to reject the offer on the basis that it does not reduce costs to a sustainable level for all institutions or enable UK researchers to publish open access across all Elsevier titles. UK Universities have issued a joint statement supporting the recommendation and requesting the continuation of negotiations.

Update 13th January 2021

Following the clear rejection of Elsevier’s 6th proposal in November 2021, Elsevier has presented a 7th proposal for a Read & Publish agreement to the sector. This latest proposal provides unlimited Open Access publishing for UK authors in hybrid journals including in Cell Press and the Lancet, whilst also reducing sector spend to more sustainable levels. The offer is closer to delivering against the key priorities identified by the sector at the outset of the negotiation. Some aspects of the agreement are still being negotiated and finalised, and access will be maintained while negotiations continue.