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Spotlight: MIT Libraries and Faculty Committee on the Library System on UC-Elsevier Deal

As a community committed to the open sharing of knowledge, we at MIT stand in solidarity with our University of California colleagues in the broad goal of advancing openness and equity in scholarly communications, and have been following their negotiations with the publishing giant Elsevier with great interest. UC went nearly two years without immediate access to newly published content before announcing an agreement with Elsevier on Tuesday. The virtue of this agreement is that we are likely to see considerably more future UC-authored work immediately openly available to the entire world upon publication. We recognize this achievement.

At MIT, we have innovated and experimented in open access models for many years.  Our experience has led us to become increasingly concerned about the implications of per-article payment models that serve as the basis for the UC–Elsevier and other agreements.  Locking in a norm where an author, funder, and/or institution must pay an opaque and often costly fee for the right to publish an article risks locking out scholars from less privileged institutions and less well funded disciplines. Equitable opportunity to contribute to scholarly literature is as important for the integrity and usefulness of scholarship as is the open accessibility to read.

As we approach our tenth month since ending our own negotiations with Elsevier, our vision and our actions at MIT with respect to all scholarly publishers will continue to focus on openness, equity, and transparency, as outlined in the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts.

— Chris Bourg, Director of Libraries, and Roger Levy, Associate Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Chair, Faculty Committee on the Library System, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Originally published March 18, 2021