The University of California doesn’t want scientific knowledge locked up behind paywalls, and thinks the costs of academic publishing have grown out of control.
“I fully support our faculty, staff, and students in breaking down paywalls that hinder the sharing of groundbreaking research,” said UC president and former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. “This issue does not just impact UC, but also countless scholars, researchers, and scientists across the globe — and we stand with them in their push for full, unfettered access.”
The break came, as Stat News reports, after months of failed negotiations between the California university system and the publisher.
Academics often have to pay publishers like Elsevier (which owns 2,500 journals) to print their work, and then have to pay extra to make it open access, meaning anyone in the world can read the papers for free. These fees can top thousands of dollars per journal article.
At the same time, academic institutions have to pay journal subscription costs. This setup — where academic institutions pay for both publishing and subscription — has helped make academic publishing an absurdly profitable business.
UC wanted to pay a single, reduced lump sum for open access publishing and subscriptions in Elsevier’s journals. Elsevier wasn’t willing to meet its price. So UC dropped its Elsevier subscriptions, which had cost $10 million a year.