Million euro deal with Elsevier about open science

Dutch research and applied sciences universities and research institutions have reached an agreement with science publisher Elsevier about freely accessible publications and open science.

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The 80m euro deal allows Dutch researchers to publish open access articles in 95 percent of Elsevier’s journals. This means that for the next four and a half years, their articles will be publicly available to everyone, including interested outsiders.

Speaking to newspaper Trouw, Robert-Jan Smits - who was the European Commission’s Special Envoy for Open Access before he became president of TU/e’s Executive Board - described the agreement with Elsevier as “a good package. It contains the ambition to make the transition to completely open access, and it rules out exclusive rights to scientific data. That’s a good thing. There is increasing pressure among scientists to make research results publicly available, especially when that research is publicly funded. The corona crisis increases that pressure, for Elsevier as well, because everyone understands that scientific knowledge rapidly needs to be made publicly accessible in times like these.”

Not The Lancet

The institutions and Elsevier are currently still discussing prestigious medical journal The Lancet, which is among that final 5 percent of journals that aren’t part of the agreement, although several similar journals (such as The Lancet Public Health and The Lancet Microbe) are.

Universities and research institutions also reached an agreement with Elsevier about open science: the aim to make as much scientific research and data as possible accessible to all. This includes not only research results, but underlying data and methods as well.


The Netherlands wants all publicly funded research to be freely available to all. The European Union has the same aim. Science publishers like Elsevier have opposed this for a long time: they make more money with subscriptions. They also have the most prestigious journals in which scientists like to publish.

With open access, that business model works the other way around: you don’t pay to read an article, but to publish one. Instead of relying on subscription fees, the publisher now generates revenue by charging publication fees, which will make articles accessible to many more people.

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