Need help accessing an Elsevier journal article? Click here.

As each of its multiyear contracts with large scholarly journal publishers comes to an end, the University of California is working to hold down the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals and to facilitate open access publishing of UC research. 

Update as of July 10, 2019

UC has been out of contract with Elsevier since January. Until now, the publisher continued to allow access to 2019 articles via ScienceDirect. UC’s direct access to new Elsevier articles is now being discontinued. 

Please note that articles published before 2019 in the vast majority of journals used by UC scholars should continue to be available via ScienceDirect.   the process for discontinuing access is complex, so access to specific journals or articles may fluctuate until Elsevier’s rollout of these changes is complete.


Contact us at

To receive updates on the status of the negotiations and the UC’s access to Elsevier journals, please provide your email address.

What is not affected

You can still access the following content in the same way you always have:

  • Most Elsevier articles published in 2018 or earlier: You will still be able to access the full text of many articles via ScienceDirect because UC’s prior contracts included permanent access to previously published content in most Elsevier journals.
  • Open access articles: The article you’re seeking may be available with open access from the journal’s website or elsewhere online (click here for tips on how to search for open access versions).
  • Elsevier e-books and other products licensed by the UC (e.g., Compendex, Reaxys, INSPEC) or by UC Davis (e.g., Scopus, Embase, ClinicalKey for Nursing/Clinical Skills) are covered under separate contracts and remain available as before.

What is affected

Elsevier is now discontinuing UC’s direct access to:

  • Articles with a 2019 publish date
  • Backfiles of certain journals for which the UC’s prior contract did not include permanent access

See below for other ways to access the articles you need.

Plugins and search tools

Unpaywall: Install the browser plugin and a green tab with a padlock icon will appear in your browser with a direct link to the full-text article if a free version is available. Unpaywall will prompt you to contact the author if an open access copy is not available.



Google ScholarFind open versions of articles via Google Scholar or, to make searching more convenient, add the Google Scholar Button to your browser; then select the title of a paper, from any webpage, and click the Scholar button to find it.


Open Access Button:
 Use their website or browser plugin to get free, legal research articles and data delivered immediately or automatically requested from the author.


PubMed CentralSearch this free archive of over 5 million full-text biomedical and life science journal articles.



Ask for help

Get it from the library: Request an article via interlibrary loan. Articles are emailed as soon as possible.

The library has implemented new, faster systems to support interlibrary loan on evenings and weekends, and to deliver requested articles faster, often within a day.

  • If you have an urgent request, please submit your request (use the Note the field to request an expedited copy) and contact us at 530-752-1978 or so we can best meet your needs. UC Davis Library staff are available and happy to assist you 7 days a week.
  • Questions about how to place an interlibrary loan request? See our Quick Guide or video tutorial.
  • Other questions or comments related to UC’s negotiations with Elsevier: Contact us at


Use your network: Contact the author and ask for a copy. Most publishers allow responsible sharing of one’s own publications.


As a reminder, UC continues to have access on ScienceDirect to articles with a publication date of 2018 or earlier in many Elsevier journals, for which our prior subscription included perpetual access rights. This constitutes the vast majority of content used by UC scholars.

Can I continue to edit, review for, or publish in Elsevier journals?
Yes. It is up to you to decide which journals you edit or review for, and where you choose to publish your research.

What happens next in UC’s negotiations with Elsevier?
UC is hoping to reenter formal negotiations with Elsevier if the publisher indicates that they are willing to discuss a contract that integrates our faculty-supported goals of containing costs and facilitating open access to UC research.

Find more information about the negotiations and frequently asked questions on the UC Office of Scholarly Communication website.

Open letters to the UC Davis academic community

Update on access to Elsevier journals
(June 26, 2019)

Important Update on UC Negotiations with Elsevier
(Feb 28, 2019)

Update on UC Negotiations with Elsevier
(Feb 1, 2019)

Update on UC Negotiations with Elsevier
(Dec 28, 2018)

Open Letter to the UC Davis Academic Community
(Nov 28, 2018)

In the News

Opinion: University of California’s break with the biggest academic publisher could shake up scholarly publishing for good
(The Conversation, Mar 7, 2019 — by UC Davis University Librarian and Vice Provost of Digital Scholarship MacKenzie Smith)

The real cost of knowledge
(The Atlantic, Mar 4, 2019)

UC drops Elsevier
(Inside Higher Ed, Mar 1, 2019)

UC takes on publishing giant, fights for open access to publicly-funded research
(KQED Forum, Jan 3, 2019)

Opinion: UC is leading fight for open access to research
(San Jose Mercury News, Dec 30, 2018)

Heavyweight showdown over research access
(Inside Higher Ed, Dec 13, 2018)

In UC’s battle with the world’s largest scientific publisher, the future of information is at stake
(Los Angeles Times, Dec 7, 2018)