The University of California system is currently in negotiations to renew its contracts with some of the world’s largest academic journal publishers, including Elsevier. This page offers information for the UC Davis community about:

More information about the negotiations, including the current status (updated monthly) is available on the UC and Elsevier page maintained by the systemwide Office of Scholarly Communication.

Questions? Contact us at

What’s happening? As each of its multiyear contracts with large scholarly journal publishers comes to an end, the UC is working to hold down the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals and to align our journal contracts with the UC’s stance in support of open access. To that end, the UC is seeking a single, integrated contract with each publisher that covers both the university’s subscriptions and open access publishing of UC research in their journals, making open access the default for any article with a UC corresponding author.

Why Elsevier, why now? The UC is negotiating with Elsevier now because the UC’s previous multiyear contract with Elsevier is currently up for renewal. That contract expires on December 31, 2018.

What will happen if a new Elsevier contract is not signed? Nothing will change right away. The University of California and Elsevier are continuing discussions in January in a good-faith effort to conclude negotiations by January 31. As part of both parties’ good-faith efforts, UC and Elsevier have agreed that access will be extended to the University of California in January to allow one more month to conclude discussions.

If the UC and Elsevier are unable to reach an agreement by January 31, UC users’ access to certain Elsevier journal articles through their ScienceDirect platform may be disrupted. It is important to note that:

  • Nothing may change. As long as the parties remain engaged in good faith negotiations, Elsevier may not disrupt UC access to its journals (as is the case in January).
  • Only articles with a publication date after January 1, 2019 would be affected for most journals if Elsevier were to interrupt UC’s access at any point in the future. This is because the UC’s prior contracts provided for perpetual access to previously published content. If you have difficulty accessing an older article via ScienceDirect, please let us know at; there may be a system error.
  • For certain journals for which the UC does not have perpetual access rights, older articles may become unavailable via ScienceDirect if a new agreement cannot be reached. If you have questions about particular journal(s) in your discipline, contact us at
  • For advice on how to access Elsevier articles if the UC were to lose access via ScienceDirect at any point in the future, see the section on Other Ways to Access Articles below.
  • Other Elsevier products licensed by the UC (e.g., Compendex, Reaxys) or by UC Davis (e.g., Scopus, Embase, ClinicalKey) are covered under separate contracts; access to these resources will not be affected by the journal negotiations that are underway.

Are there any restrictions on where I can publish? There are no restrictions on how you may publish in or review for Elsevier’s journals, regardless of what happens with the contract negotiations. It’s up to you.

More questions? Check out the extensive FAQ from the systemwide Office of Scholarly Communication or contact us directly.

If there is a period when the UC is without a contract and our direct access to newly published content is disrupted, here are some other ways to access articles you need.

Different options may be more suitable than others, depending on how soon you need an article and whether or not you need the final published version. (The official version is the final, published version available from the publisher’s website; however, a post-print version, which is the final paper but without the publisher’s editing and layout, or a pre-print version, which is the author’s manuscript as submitted for publication, may be available via green open access or other channels.)

If you have difficulty finding a suitable version of an article yourself, the library can help you get the final, published version via interlibrary loan.
To request an article through the library, please see Placing an Interlibrary Loan request.

As a reminder, the UC will continue to have access on ScienceDirect to all articles published before January 2019 in Elsevier journals for which our prior subscription included perpetual access rights.

Plugins and search tools

  • Unpaywall: If you install the browser plugin, 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; if an open access copy is not available, Unpaywall will prompt you to contact the author. Draws on a database of 10 million legal, open access full-text research papers, compiled by the nonprofit Impactstory.
  • Google ScholarIf there is an open version of an article (10-20% of Elsevier articles), you can often find it via Google Scholar. 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.
  • 1findrAn alternative to Google, this search tool also notes the availability of open access versions in its search results.
  • 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.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals: Find research articles in over 10,000 open access journals.
  • ScienceOpen: Search and discovery platform containing over 33 million article records, which link to full-text articles when open access versions are available.
  • UC eScholarship: Postprints, working papers, monographs, electronic theses, dissertations, student capstone projects, and seminar/conference proceedings by UC-affiliated authors.

Subject-specific repositories

Ask for help

  • Use your network: Most publishers allow responsible sharing of one’s own publications. One way to get an article is to contact the author and ask for a copy.
  • Place a library requestIf you are unable to find an article you need, you can use the library’s Request service to access interlibrary loan (ILL) and document delivery service (DDS) 7 days a week. The UC Davis Library’s ILL unit participates in a global resource-sharing network whose mission is to support your research, and our ILL staff are available and happy to assist you. If you have an urgent request, please submit your request and call us at 530-752-1978 so we can best facilitate your needs.
TO:        UC Davis Academic Community
FROM:  MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian and Vice Provost of Digital Scholarship
Dennis J. Ventry, Jr., Professor of Law and Vice Chair, Academic Senate University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication
RE:       Update on UC Negotiations with Elsevier


As described in our open letter sent November 28, the University of California is in negotiations to renew its systemwide license with scholarly journal publisher Elsevier. If you wish to learn more about the negotiations, the coverage in the Los Angeles Times and Inside Higher Ed provide good overviews.

Our current contract was set to expire on December 31. While a new contract has not yet been signed, on December 21 the UC and Elsevier agreed to extend the UC’s access to Elsevier journals through January 2019 in a good-faith effort to conclude negotiations by January 31.

As a result of this extension, access to Elsevier journals will continue for the UC community. That means that UC scholars will see no change in the way they access Elsevier journal articles in January.

As the negotiations progress and there is more to report, we will keep both the Davis and Sacramento campus communities apprised of any updates and what to expect starting in February.

Our goals for these negotiations have not changed. We remain hopeful that the UC and Elsevier will be able to reach an agreement that facilitates open access publishing of UC research and contains costs by integrating open access article processing charges (APCs) and subscription fees into a single contract.

Whatever happens in February, the UC Davis Library remains committed to working with faculty, clinicians, students and staff to ensure that you can get access to the research articles you need.

To learn more or for updates, visit the website of the UC Office of Scholarly Communication, which offers background and in-depth FAQs. As always, please also feel free to email the Library with any questions.


MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian and Vice Provost of Digital Scholarship
Dennis J. Ventry, Jr., Professor of Law and Vice Chair, Academic Senate University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication

TO:        UC Davis Academic Community
FROM:  MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian and Vice Provost of Digital Scholarship
Dennis J. Ventry, Jr., Professor of Law and Vice Chair, Academic Senate University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication
RE:       Potential Changes to the UC’s Relationship with Elsevier in January 2019


An Open Letter to the Academic Community:

The University of California is renegotiating its systemwide licenses with some of the world’s largest scholarly journal publishers, including industry giant Elsevier. These negotiations may create significant changes in our access to new articles published in Elsevier journals as soon as January 1, 2019. (See below for details on town hall meetings where you can learn more regarding access and timing.)

Importantly, the UC has adopted a new approach to these negotiations, seeking not only to constrain the runaway costs of journal subscriptions, but to make it easier and more affordable for UC authors to publish their research with open access. Depending on how the negotiations proceed, a range of potential outcomes could materialize:

  • If we are successful, the UC may begin to implement a new system for publishing research in Elsevier journals in the near future.
  • On the other hand, if we are unable to reach an agreement before our current contract ends on December 31, we may lose access to future articles in Elsevier’s journals through their ScienceDirect platform.

The proposed change

The agreement that the UC proposed to Elsevier covers both UC’s journal subscriptions and open access publishing of UC research in Elsevier journals, similar to “publish and read” agreements pioneered in Europe. The proposal would give every UC author the opportunity to make their work freely accessible — automatically and upon publication — to readers and researchers around the world.

The UC’s approach is also designed to give UC authors maximum flexibility in determining how to publish. For those who wish to publish open access, discounted open access fees negotiated in bulk, alongside funding support from the UC Libraries to help pay those fees, would remove cost as a barrier to publication. Alternatively, authors could opt out of open access and publish their research behind the journal’s traditional subscription paywall.

Today, UC researchers who wish to publish with open access in a subscription journal must pay 100% of the article processing charge (APC) themselves. Many choose this route; in fact, UC authors pay nearly $1 million a year in voluntary open access publishing charges to Elsevier, in addition to the millions of dollars paid by the UC Libraries for subscriptions to those same journals.

An opportunity to lead

The UC’s efforts to shift its relationship with Elsevier will have implications beyond our University. Indeed, it is part of a global movement to break down paywalls for scholarly journals and to create a more open system of sharing knowledge, facilitating research, and enabling greater global equity of access to knowledge. Much of the action to date has been in Europe, but North American institutions, which represent 42% of Elsevier’s revenue, need to get involved. Because the UC accounts for nearly 10% of all US publishing output and has sizable subscription contracts, we are in a position to lead towards a more open and sustainable scholarly publishing ecosystem.

The UC’s stance on open access

As the UC renegotiates its licenses with scholarly journal publishers like Elsevier, we also have an opportunity to align our journal licensing agreements with the University’s goal of advancing open access. As stated in the UC’s Presidential Open Access Policy:

The University of California is committed to disseminating its research and scholarship as widely as possible [and] recognizes the benefits that accrue to its authors as individual scholars and to the scholarly enterprise from such wide dissemination, including greater recognition, more thorough review, consideration, and critique, and a general increase in scientific, scholarly, and critical knowledge.

The Academic Senate’s open access policy affirms this commitment: “As part of a public university system, the Faculty is dedicated to making its scholarship available to the people of California and the world.”

Next steps

Our current contract with Elsevier expires on December 31, 2018. As that date approaches, the UC Libraries are preparing for various scenarios so that we can continue to provide UC scholars with access to needed articles with minimal disruption or delay, regardless of what happens with the negotiations.

Learn more

This fall, we have briefed campus leadership including the Academic Senate Executive Council, Senate Library Committee, Senate Research Committee, and Provost’s Leadership Council on these negotiations.

To broaden this outreach even further, we will also host a series of town hall meetings on the Davis campus and at the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento to provide an opportunity for all members of the UC Davis community to hear more, provide input and ask questions about the negotiations currently underway.

  • The first of those meetings will be held at noon on Thursday, December 6 at Shields Library, with a simultaneous webcast to UC Davis Health (a viewing location will also be available at the Blaisdell Medical Library)Lunch will be provided.
  • We will hold additional town hall meetings in January with dates TBD depending on the progress of the negotiations. Please check back often for updates, or provide your email address if you would like to be alerted when those dates are announced.

I also invite any deans or department chairs who wish to arrange a meeting with their faculty to reach out to me directly.

I will provide an update as soon as there is news to share on the progress of the negotiations. In the meantime, please feel free to email me with any questions.


MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian and Vice Provost of Digital Scholarship
Dennis J. Ventry, Jr., Professor of Law and Vice Chair, Academic Senate University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication