UC Ends Negotiations with Elsevier

Update, February 28, 2019

The University of California has made the difficult decision to end negotiations with Elsevier on a new contract for its package of journals. Elsevier has not provided a date on which its new journal content will no longer be accessible to UC students, faculty, and staff, but it is expected to be very soon.

Please note that this action affects access to journals only. It does not affect access to e-books, reference and patient care resources, or non-journal research tools.

Alternative Access Methods and Additional Resources

To access most articles published in Elsevier journals prior to January 1, 2019, use ScienceDirect. The UC has permanent access to about 86% of titles covered by UC’s expired contract; a complete list (Excel spreadsheet) is available online. To access articles published in Elsevier journals on January 1, 2019, or after, use one of the following methods.


Delivery Speed

Access to final published version? Cost to UCLA/UC
Interlibrary loan or UC e-Links 2-4 days
Regular turnaround time. Urgent delivery in 24 hours M-F in patient care emergencies.
Yes $/$$
Open repositories Immediate, if article is available


Maybe None
Browser extensions Immediate, if article is available Maybe None
Contact the author Depends on author responsiveness Maybe None


If you have questions or would like further assistance, contact your UCLA Library subject librarian.

Find an open access version through browser extensions:

  • Open Access Button: Enter an article’s URL, DOI, title, or other information on the OA Button website to find free, legal, open access versions. Or install the Chrome or Firefox extension, then click on it from a paywalled article to initiate a search for an open version and, when available, instantly get free access. When free access is not found, the service can contact the author directly to help them make the article available.
  • Unpaywall: Directly search an open, legal database of millions of millions of open access scholarly articles. Or install the Chrome/Firefox extension to connect to open access versions of paywalled articles. It is integrated with tools like UC-eLinks and Web of Science.

Search a general or subject-specific open repository:

Searching for articles through Google Scholar will find them in well-indexed repositories. The repository versions will be those deposited by the authors and may include versions prior to peer review.

Request the article through a UCLA Library or UC Libraries service:

These can obtain closed content as well as link to open content.

  • UCLA Library Interlibrary loan: If you need an article urgently for patient care purposes, include "Patient Care Emergency" in the Notes field on your request. The turnaround time for these urgent requests is twenty-four hours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..
  • UC-eLinks

Contact the author:

Most publishers allow authors to responsibly share their own publications. Contact the author and ask for a PDF of a reprint. The author’s name and institution are usually shown on the preview page of the article.

  • Some authors are open to receiving requests for articles via social networking sites for researchers such as Academia.edu, ResearchGate, Mendeley, and HumanitiesCommons.
  • Make a request to the author via Twitter using the hashtag #icanhazpdf, along with a link to the article.


Elsevier’s most recent offer failed to address UC’s central goal of a new contract that controlled costs while offering open access to research articles by its faculty and staff. Specifically, the Elsevier offer added more than $10 million per year in article publishing fees to make articles open access immediately upon publication, in addition to a multi-million-dollar annual subscription simply to read the journals.

The negotiating team consulted with the UC Academic Senate and the UC university librarians; both groups advised quite strongly against accepting the offer. With this decision, UC has joined a number of prestigious universities and consortia around the world that have rejected Elsevier’s extortionate prices and inflexible terms. This includes academic consortia in Germany, Hungary, Peru, Sweden, and Taiwan as well as Florida State University and University of Oklahoma.

UC is determined to make published research by its authors as accessible as possible, but not at such a steep price. The system cannot spend more taxpayer dollars on one academic publisher when it significantly reduces funds available to spend on all other collections, which UCLA students, faculty, and staff rely on daily for teaching and research.

UCLA librarians and staff are redoubling efforts to work with UCLA faculty and staff authors to support compliance with UC’s open access policies and to encourage UCLA authors who write, review, and edit for Elsevier journals to consider taking any or all of the action steps outlined below.

The actions that have led to this current situation of unsustainable price increases have been taken over the years by authors, publishers, and consumers individually as well as collectively. Developing robust international scholarly publishing alternatives that meet the needs of authors, support a diverse community of publishers earning sustainable profits, expand access, and remain affordable to institutions will require the active involvement of colleagues at academic and research institutions around the world. We welcome your support for and participation in this ambitious effort.

Action Steps for Faculty, Researchers, and Staff

All UCLA authors who write, review, or edit for Elsevier journals may want to consider taking any or all of the following actions:

  • Declining to review articles for Elsevier journals. Possible language to use in response to requests: "I decline to review articles for Elsevier journals in light of the unsuccessful conclusion to negotiations with the University of California on a new contract."
  • Looking at other journal publishing options, including prestigious open access journals in your discipline.
  • Contacting the publisher, if you’re on the editorial board of an Elsevier journal, and letting them know that you share the negotiators’ concerns.
  • Using UC’s open access policies to make your final pre-publication manuscript publicly accessible.