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Changes to FSU's Elsevier 2019 subscriptions
- 27 Apr 2018

The Florida State University Libraries have announced plans to cancel FSU's comprehensive 'big deal' subscription to Elsevier journals. Instead, the Libraries will subscribe to a subset of most-needed journals, as identified by faculty and usage statistics. This change will take place in January 2019.

 In March, the Faculty Senate, at the recommendation of the Senate Library Committee, voted unanimously to endorse this plan. Provost McRorie also strongly supports this move.

The exceptionally high and ever-increasing cost of the Elsevier 'big deal' is seen to have made it unsustainable. Florida State University currently pays just under $2 million a year, and the cost increases by at least four percent annually.

FSU is being charged too much as the result of a poorly thought-out 20-year-old contract between Elsevier and the State University System. Through this contract, UCF pays less than $1M for the exact same product. FIU pays just over a million. USF pays about $1.5 million.

Over the last 8 years, FSU's provosts have tried every possible way to negotiate a reduction to FSU's disproportionately high cost, without success. A partial cancellation seems to be the only remaining option.

 Much of the demand for articles will be met seamlessly through individually subscribed titles. For unsubscribed content, access will be available by interlibrary loan delivery to the desktop guaranteed within 24 hours (no cost); or expedited delivery within minutes ($30, subsidised by the library.)

Librarians have been working with faculty during recent weeks to choose the best titles for continued subscriptions. STEM areas are particularly affected. Some disciplines (arts, humanities, law, etc.) much less so.

With some of the savings, they will be able to acquire a variety of other materials that faculty have requested - requests they have had to deny because so much of the budget has been consumed by Elsevier.

Other major research libraries have taken this approach and have been surprised at how well faculty and student needs can be met without the 'big deal' subscription.

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Scientific journal Nature Methods officially retracts contentious CRISPR study
- 03 Apr 2018

In 2017, a study published in the journal Nature Methods caused controversy in the scientific community after claiming to find over 100 unintended large genetic deletions or insertions related to the CRISPR gene-editing process. The journal has now officially retracted the paper after a thorough review found that the main claims in the study were not sufficiently backed up by data.

With several human clinical trials involving the CRISPR gene-editing process moving forward, the original study resulted in a flurry of criticism from many scientists in the field. Geneticists argued the study was fundamentally flawed, with a low sample size and conclusions that could not be reasonably attributed to the data gathered.

Gaetan Burgio, a geneticist from Australia National University, was one of the researchers ardently critical of the study, directing a degree of concern at the journal for publishing such as dubious paper in the first place.

Nature Methods has finally responded to the controversy, publishing several critiques of the original study and officially retracting the paper after a review by four independent referees. An accompanying editorial from the journal concluded that the paper's conclusions were not sufficiently supported by the data. The journal also notes its peer review process for this particular paper was not suitably rigorous.

Although this study has now officially been retracted it does not mean that CRISPR is 100 percent safe. While many geneticists are undoubtedly breathing a sigh of relief and continuing their research, there still is much more work to be done to understand the broader genomic effects of this revolutionary technique.

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French research organisations and universities and SpringerNature unable to reach consensus for access to journals; publisher continues access while talks continue
- 02 Apr 2018

French research organisations and universities have reportedly cancelled their subscriptions to Springer journals. The move is the result of an impasse in fee negotiations between the publisher and Couperin.org, a national consortium representing over 250 academic institutions in France.

After more than a year of negotiations, Couperin.org and SpringerNature have failed to reach an agreement on subscriptions for Springer journals. SpringerNature publishes over 2,000 scholarly journals belonging to Springer, Nature, and BioMedCentral. The publisher's proposal includes a rise in price, which the consortium has refused to accept.

Couperin.org and its members' access to Springer journals ended March 31, 2018. According to a SpringerNature spokesperson, the publisher will continue to provide French institutions with access to its journals while talks continue. The spokesperson notes that as requested by Couperin, SpringerNature is considering a further proposal and during this time access will remain open.

According to a statement published by Couperin.org on March 30, the consortium was pushing for a reduction in subscription costs to account for the increasing proportion of open-access articles-for which authors pay an article processing fee to publish-in Springer's journals. The continuous increase in the share of articles published as open access makes it difficult to maintain a policy of increasing subscription costs, they write. On the contrary, it justifies Couperin.org's request for a price reduction.

The French impasse is the latest in a series of disputes between publishers and universities. Recently, around 200 institutions terminated their Elsevier subscriptions in Germany, in order to put pressure on the publisher during ongoing negotiations for a new nationwide licensing agreement. Discussions between Elsevier and Project Deal, an alliance of German universities and research institutions, have made little process since they began in 2016.

Subscription negotiations between library consortia and Elsevier in Finland and South Korea had also become heated. The publisher, however, reached an agreement in these countries in the last few months.

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Journals access negotiations with universities in the Netherlands, the Royal Society of Chemistry responds
- 19 Mar 2018

The Royal Society of Chemistry has issued a statement in response to a recent VSNU statement earlier last week announcing the failure to reach a new agreement on access to scientific journals from the Society.

The Society, in the statement notes that a recent journals subscription negotiations with SURF, a consortium that represents the VSNU association of Dutch universities, resulted in a range of offers presented being turned down. The Society extended a period of grace access to its journals content after the previous deal expired at the end of 2017, an arrangement that will come to an end on March 31, unless SURF are prepared to reopen discussions.

The Society's approach to the negotiations was based on finding a sustainable way to meet the publishing needs of the chemistry community in the Netherlands and underlines their ongoing support for open access publishing. As a not-for-profit society publisher RSC is committed to advancing excellence in the chemical sciences and one of the ways they do this is by disseminating high quality chemical science knowledge.

RSC offered SURF several options for their members, ranging from a standard subscription model to transition 'Read and Publish' option - and a fully Open Access model.

A number of successful 'Read and Publish' agreements are in place, including the Max Planck Society in Germany, several UK institutions and, more recently, a number of university partners in Sweden, Finland and other European countries.

Historically, the Society's subscription prices for Dutch consortium members were based on access to their content and have not taken publishing costs into account. As the output from the Netherland is now much higher in Royal Society of Chemistry journals in relation to their subscription, there is a gap to bridge.

The statement further notes that these models ensure the Society can sustainably continue to reinvest in the chemical science community, an approach that is not mirrored by purely commercial publishers. The Society reinvests into the community by supporting chemists in their careers, disseminating knowledge through their journals, books and databases and being a voice for the chemical science community, ensuring chemistry is listened to by governments and other important bodies.

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The All Party Parliamentary Group on Publishing call for evidence on how to maintain a world-leading publishing sector
- 16 Feb 2018

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Publishing has called for evidence into how to maintain a world-leading publishing sector in the UK.

The publishing industry generates up to 7.8bn gross value added (GVA) for the wider economy and supports more than 70,000 jobs directly and indirectly. It is also far greater than the sum of its parts. The sector is extraordinarily wide-ranging in its economic and social impact, from playing a fundamental role in children's education and furthering global science and R&D, through to blockbuster fiction that inspires West End hits and Oscar-winning films.

Fundamentally linked to the success of the publishing industry is the bookselling sector, which makes a strong economic contribution to the health of the UK economy in its own right, with a turnover to the value of 1.3bn and employing 24,400 directly.

The industry as a whole is fundamental in safeguarding the UK's cultural identity and standing in the world, with the UK already being the world's biggest exporter of physical books and punching well above its weight in contributing to global academic research.

However, the sector faces a number of challenges in the coming years. From copyright and IP protection abroad, to future trading relationship with the EU and the rest of world, and from work to end the VAT discrimination on digital publications, to promoting wider literacy and accessibility for all, 2018 will prove a decisive year for the industry and will likely set its regulatory framework for years to come.

Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South, is now urging the trade to share their views on future challenges such as the impact of Brexit, export growth, copyright and IP protection, education and research and piracy. The information will inform a report produced by the APPG towards the end of the year, with policy recommendations for government.

Written evidence can be submitted to ileana.grigorescu@parliament.uk until 5pm on March 15, 2018. Each submission should be no more than 3,000 words in length; be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible; and have numbered paragraphs.

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