Editorial Snapshot: Pilot National License for Journal Access

- G.A., Senior Editor

The rising cost of subscriptions to academic journals has been identified as a burden at even the most prestigious institutions in academia. To address the financial strain associated with maintaining a world-class library and to encourage publishers to expand their open access offerings, some institutions have threatened to cancel subscriptions to journals published by some major publishers.

Earlier this year, the University of California made the decision to stop paying for access to journals published by Elsevier. The immediate reaction was a large drop in the share price of REXL, the parent company of Elsevier, demonstrating the leverage that large research institutions have in the business of academic publishing.

It remains unclear whether any other major institutions will elect to cancel their subscriptions to publications from one of the major publishers. However, Elsevier has taken the step of making a pilot agreement in Norway to avoid the possibility of another major loss of revenue. This agreement establishes a national license that gives universities and research institutions across Norway access to journals published by Elsevier while allowing Norwegian researchers to publish their findings with open access.

If this 2-year pilot license is successful, we may see other major publishers make similar agreements with other national research organizations. Such licenses may allow large publishers to continue to financially benefit from their journals while meeting the needs of scientists who are eager to see their findings reach a wider audience through open access.

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