The University of Salford and Elsevier

A person works with a laptop and note book


UK Universities and Jisc have successfully negotiated a three-year deal with Elsevier that reduces the costs of accessing paywalled content and allows for unlimited open access publishing in the vast majority of Elsevier journals. This was the seventh proposal from Elsevier (and the world’s largest current open access agreement), and meets the key requirements set out by the UK HE sector.

This ensures that research published by our academic staff in Elsevier journals will be fully compliant with the new UKRI Open Access Policy, which comes into effect on 1st April 2022, as well as other funder and future REF policies. Researchers will be able to publish open access in almost 2,000 hybrid subscription journals without needing to submit a funding application; this will also transition content that would have been published behind a paywall into open access content, and ultimately flip these journals into being fully gold open access. The deal also includes unlimited open access publishing in the Cell Press and the Lancet, and a 15% APC reduction for the remaining gold open access journals. Furthermore, the deal will be retroactively applied to any articles published since 01/01/22.

You can read Jisc’s response to the negotiations and find out more about our other publisher deals on our website. If you have any questions or would like more information, please get in touch with the Library research team on


The contract between academic publisher Elsevier and UK Universities is due for renewal in December 2021.
What will happen as that date approaches?

Published 08 June 2021

The University of Salford subscribes to over 135 Elsevier ScienceDirect journals - a significant portion of the literature that our students and researchers engage with daily.

The University pays £319,728* for the current subscription deal with Elsevier, enabling University members and users of our libraries to access Elsevier journals online.

Authors at the University also publish extensively in Elsevier journals. This can incur a separate cost - why?

Most major research funders mandate that grant-holders provide open access to the outputs of their research: authors are required to make their publications openly accessible by academic and non-academic audiences.

The University of Salford supports open access for both funded and non-funded research. As stated in our Open Access Policy "Embracing a culture of open research – sharing the outputs of our research widely and rapidly – is essential to achieving our institutional mission. By providing unrestricted online access, wherever possible, to the full range of our research outputs we aim to maximise visibility, accessibility and use, and help realise their potential to make significant academic, economic, social and cultural impacts."

Likewise, this principle is central to the international Plan S initiative which requires that, from 2021, publications that result from research funded by public grants be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms. This is reflected in the new UKRI open access policy, which requires immediate open access for research articles submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022.

*The University received a refund from Elsevier of £33,451 on this amount in 2021.

Many publishers impose article processing charges to make a publication open access in one of their journals.

The average Article Processing Charge (APC) paid when a Salford author publishes in an Elsevier journal is £2,500. In 2020/21 38% APCs paid by Salford, either via our institutional fund or UKRI block grant, were paid to Elsevier, at an estimated cost of £35,000.

Is there an alternative?

Publishers and research institutions are developing a range of new business models to find sustainable approaches to open access publishing.

The University of Salford has entered into 'transitional' open access agreements with many major publishers and Learned Societies on a read & publish model. Under these agreements, the publisher receives payment for providing access to their journal portfolio and payment for publishing, bundled into a single contract.

In this way, the University supports the wide dissemination of its research and scholarship at a sustainable cost - with the further benefit that the process of publishing open access in these journals is simpler for Salford authors.

Transitional agreements are supported by cOAlition S funders: they help to transform scholarly publishing towards the Plan S goal of achieving full and immediate open access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications from research funded by public and private grants.

There is currently no open access agreement in place with Elsevier, and open access fees are paid on an article-by article basis where funding is available.

Despite publishing over 20% of UK output, Elsevier is unusual in not having established a transitional and Plan S-compliant open access agreement with UK universities.

The contract between Elsevier and UK Universities is due for renewal in December 2021.

The UK Universities sector is entering negotiations with Elsevier with two core objectives: to reduce costs to levels UK universities can sustain, and to provide full and immediate open access to UK research.

The aim is to secure a read and publish agreement with Elsevier, converting subscription expenditure to support immediate open access publishing, and maintaining access to paywalled content for a reduced fee.

UK Universities agreed their priorities for the next Elsevier agreement in 2020 and began negotiations in March 2021. The negotiations are governed by two groups; the Universities UK content negotiation strategy group and the content expert group. Representatives from each group will sit on the official negotiation team Jisc, the UK not-for-profit digital services provider for education and research, facilitates the overall negotiations.

Jisc has produced the following video to highlight the key issues.

To represent the University of Salford's teaching and research requirements, the Library gathering data and actively responding to JISC's consultations on their negotiations with Elsevier. We are engaging with Schools and research leads and would welcome the opportunity talk to you and hear your views; we are keen to hear all voices, from across disciplines and roles, to ensure the University's decision is rooted in the interests of researchers at all levels.

Plans for a broad University consultation are being developed and notices about this will be circulated in due course. In addition, data about past usage of, and publishing in, Elsevier journals will help us to form a picture about the implications of any future proposed deals.

At this stage, we welcome feedback and expressions of interest from anyone wishing to participate in future events and engagement plans.

You can contribute through this form or write to us at

Text adapted from (licensed under CC BY). Thanks to the University of Cambridge and Jisc for the use of their materials.