Q&A about the cancellation of the agreement with Elsevier commencing 1 July

Why was the agreement with Elsevier not renewed?

Elsevier has not been able to meet the demands of the Bibsam Consortium: immediate open access to all articles published in Elsevier’s journals by researchers affiliated to one of the consortium’s participating organisations; reading access to Elsevier’s 1900 journals for participating organisations, and, lastly, a sustainable price model which makes a transition to open access possible.


2018-06-25  This blog post will not be updated. For new and updated questions and answers, please see: 

Elsevier-negotiations at-a-glance

  • Renegotiations started in the spring of 2016.
  • The agreement was renewed on a monthly basis as of January 2017 with a price increase of 3.75 %.
  • Negotiations were renewed during the spring of 2017.
  • A high-level meeting took place in the autumn of 2017 between Elsevier and representatives from the Swedish Government, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Rectors’ Conference, and the National Library of Sweden.
  • Seeing that negotiations could not be closed at the end of 2017, the Agreement was kept running on a monthly basis during 2018 with a 3.75 % price increase and extended with a total of six months.
  • Participating organisations will pay half of their cost for 2017 with an added 3.75 % increase during this six month period.
  • The Swedish Rectors’ Conference discussed the choice of approach on the 14th of March 2018.
  • A new high-level meeting took place on the 6th of April when Elsevier was informed that the business model which they offered does not meet the demands of the Bibsam Consortium.
  • On the 2nd of May, the Agreement was terminated per the 30th of June 2018.
  • A press release to the fact was sent out on the 16th of May 2018.
  • A follow-up meeting with Elsevier was scheduled on the 18th of May 2018.

Which Elsevier products are purchased via the Bibsam Consortium?

The Bibsam Consortium’s agreement with Elsevier comprises of both databases and scholarly journals. The former are Scopus, Reaxys and Compendex. The latter are e-journal packages from ScienceDirect Freedom Collection together with titles outside of Freedom Collection and Cell Press.

How large is the Bibsam Consortium’s annual turnover for Elsevier products?

In 2017 the turnover for Elsevier products within the consortium was € 14 005 202, divided by type of product category as follows:

Databases:      €   1 080 137
Journals:          € 12 559 062

This total sum does not reflect the cost of e-books, reference works etc purchased by Swedish higher education institutions (HEIs) outside of the Bibsam Consortium.

How much do Swedish researchers publish in Elsevier’s journals?

In 2017 researchers affiliated with Swedish HEIs published around 4000 articles in Elsevier’s journals and the yearly projected increase is calculated at 1 %.

How much do Swedish researchers pay Elsevier to make their scientific articles open access?

Publication fees (the so-called Article Processing Charges or APCs) are primarily paid by research funders, university faculties but also by researchers themselves. In 2017 these publication fees amounted to € 1.3 million or about 13 million Swedish Crowns.

When will the Agreement with Elsevier be terminated?

The current agreement for Elsevier’s journals has been cancelled as of the 30th of June 2018.

Will access to Elsevier’s journals be closed?

Yes. Access to articles published from the first of July 2018 can no longer be accessed, but according to the post-termination clause of the Agreement, there will be access to articles published from January 1995 to June 2018.

Will my organisation lose access to Elsevier’s databases?

No. There is a separate Agreement for Elsevier’s database products: Compendex, Reaxys, and Scopus for 2018–2020. This Agreement has not been cancelled.

What are my organisation’s PTA or post-termination access rights to previous content?

According to the current Agreement, after termination at the end of June, access from January 1995 to June 2018 will be allowed for organisations having participated in the Agreement for more than five years. For other organisations there is only post-cancellation access to titles relative to the value it had for subscriptions at the Agreement’s commencement.

There will be two different access ways offered post-cancellation:

  • Through downloading the contents on an organisation’s own server against a one-time fee which will cover the costs of the publisher in connection with downloading articles. The electronic copy cannot include links or other functionality related to the online version.
  • Through online access from the publisher’s platform against a fee which corresponds to the actual costs incurred by the publisher for the service and which is calculated from the amount of downloaded full-text articles from the subscribed collections during the previous 12 months. The number of downloads and the actual cost per download will be calculated by Elsevier once a year. Titles which Elsevier no longer has any rights to will be lost for participating organisations.

How will PTA – post-termination access – work?

Hitherto detailed information is lacking as to how it will work and the exact cost for each higher education institution. The license managers at the National Library of Sweden handle all contacts with Elsevier and will send out more detailed information as soon as it is available.

Who is responsible for handling the details concerning PTA?

Participating organisations are responsible for choosing between the two available alternatives mentioned above. When the license managers have received information from Elsevier it will send out a request to participating organisations regarding their choice. Thereafter the license managers at the National Library of Sweden are responsible for making sure that calculations are correct and also handle contacts with Elsevier. Each organisation will have to bear the cost for PTA individually.

How will I be able to access articles from Elsevier’s journals from 1 July?

Many articles are freely accessible via parallel publishing in subject or institutional repositories. Read more about alternative access routes to scholarly articles on OpenAccess.se [in English].

Please contact your library for detailed information on which access you are entitled to at your own organisation, as access to articles from previous years varies at different organisations.

Can HEI libraries offer document delivery of unavailable articles?

It is up to each participating organisation to decide how they will choose to deal with document delivery options.

As a researcher, will I be able to continue to publish, work as an editor and peer review articles in Elsevier’s journals?

Yes. There are no demands placed on Swedish researchers to abstain from and/or boycott publishing or taking on editorial positions with Elsevier’s journals.

In Finland, a large number of researchers chose to support the Finnish consortium FinELibs negotiations with Elsevier through a boycott they called “No deal, no review.”

In Germany, where negotiations with Elsevier stalled, researchers chose to abstain from taking on editorial work for Elsevier’s journals in order to support the German universities’ negotiations with Elsevier. https://www.hrk.de/press/press-releases/press-release/meldung/researchers-resign-editorship-of-elsevier-journals-4237/

How are negotiations proceeding with Elsevier in other European countries?

The Netherlands

A subscription deal for 2016–2018 with reading access together with a rebate of up to 30 % on publication fees (APCs) for open access articles.  The chief negotiator of the Netherlands, Koen Becking, says: “At the end of the day our goal is full open access. And just like our German colleagues we solely want to pay for output, nothing more.” https://www.scienceguide.nl/2018/01/we-are-prepared-for-a-no-deal/

The UK

A traditional subscription deal for 2016–2020 with reading access and a yearly price increase of 2 %, plus a separate deal for open access.


A traditional subscription deal with a yearly price increase of about 2.25 % (estimated based on the total yearly fee per subscribing institution) together with a 50 % discount on publication fees (APCs) for 1600 journals.


The negotiation team demands 100 % open access together with reading access without a yearly price increase. Since 2016/17 over 200 universities have no agreement and no access to Elsevier journals. Germany’s chief negotiator, Professor Hippler, says: “We see that the transition to open access is too slow, and I am utterly upset and concerned about this.” https://www.hrk.de/press/press-releases/press-release/meldung/european-high-level-summit-meeting-on-open-access-negotiations-4364

Austria, Switzerland, and France

These countries apply the same strategy as Germany: 100 % open access together with reading access without a yearly price increase.


There are ongoing discussions within the consortium and the higher education institutions in preparation for renegotiations in 2019.

Will Scopus work after 30 June?

Yes. It is a database with a renewed agreement and can be accessed even after the 30th of June, with the exception of access to articles in Elsevier’s journals published after this date.

What about renewals of individual organisations’ agreements?

The recommendation is to wait and see as long as possible before renewing individual organisations’ agreements for 2019 and not to sign any new agreements while renegotiations continue.

When will the invoice for 2018 be sent out?

The invoice will be sent out shortly. Participating organisations shall pay half their cost for 2017 with an increase of 3.75 %.

Where can I find Elsevier’s title lists for 2018?

The title lists for 2018 can be found in Consortia Manager on the pages for 2017, for the time being. You will find them under each product respectively, under the heading “attachment.”


Open Access

Open access gives everyone the right to read, download, copy and disseminate research publications, such as scholarly journal articles. Open access to the scholarly corpus of literature is a prerequisite for open science. When it is possible for everyone to partake of scientific information it fosters the growth of knowledge, innovation, competitiveness and the participation, commitment and interest of citizens in research and knowledge production, the so-called citizen science.

The Bibsam Consortium

Since 1996 the National Library of Sweden negotiates agreements for e-journals and databases including open access publications on behalf of Swedish universities, university colleges, governmental agencies and research institutes. This is called the Bibsam Consortium. Today 85 organisations participate in at least one of the current agreements and the total turnover is € 36 million.

The Bibsam Consortium administers around 40 agreements comprising a total of 100 e-resource packages. The Consortium is administered by the NLS and governed by a steering committee consisting of representatives nominated by the Swedish Rectors’ Conference, the Association of Special Libraries and the National Library of Sweden. The steering committee is headed by the Vice-Chancellor of Stockholm University, Astrid Söderbergh Widding.

For more information:


Elsevier is the world’s largest scientific publisher with over 2500 subscription and open access journals accessible via their platform ScienceDirect. Elsevier’s turnover in 2017 was € 2 825 million. Elsevier is also an information analytics company belonging to the RELX Group, whose large portfolio includes not only Elsevier journals, such as Cell and The Lancet, but also Scopus, an abstract and citation database, and legal databases, such as LexisNexis etc.

For more information:


OA2020 is a global alliance committed to accelerating the transition to open access. In order to achieve this mission, the existing corpus of scholarly journals should be converted from subscription to open access. OA2020’s guiding principle, confirmed by recent developments and studies, is that this transition process can be realised with currently available resources and replace the subscription business model with new models that ensure research outputs are open and re-usable. The Swedish stakeholders: the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Rectors’ Conference and the National Library of Sweden have all signed the OA2020 Expression of Interest.

For more information:

Further information

The English press release 2018-05-16


Link to the original blog post 2018-05-16


Link to the Swedish Q&A 2018-05-16



Britt-Marie Wideberg, Head of Licensing, National Library of Sweden
+46 (0)70 007 36 60


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