The centralised management of APCs will build a knowledge from open access charges

Last week we reported on APC discounts in Elsevier’s publications for researchers at the University of Helsinki. This has sparked a debate in the scientific community. For its part, the Helsinki University Library is answering some of the questions the debate has raised.

The agreement between the national FinELib consortium and Elsevier offers researchers an opportunity to publish open access articles with a 50 percent discount on article processing charges (APC). The discount covers 1500 subscription journals and over 100 open access journals. All corresponding authors in organisations that are parties to the agreement are entitled to the discount.

Furthermore, researchers affiliated with the University of Helsinki are able to publish their open access articles in Elsevier journals free of charge, because the University of Helsinki pays the remaining half of the APC for the researcher. This has also raised questions. From the point of view of the Helsinki University Library, it is a practical solution. The purpose of this arrangement is to acquire centralised information on how many articles attached to the Elsevier agreement are published and how much this increases the University of Helsinki’s costs. The monitoring of APC payments without centralised management of APCs is very difficult, especially in a large and research-intensive university such as the University of Helsinki.

The decision to subsidise open access publishing in Elsevier’s journals is a fixed-term arrangement with a clear objective. The main purpose is to gather information about the real costs of hybrid open access publishing for the next round of negotiations with major scholarly publishers. The centralised management of APCs provides reliable and valuable basis of information on the total cost of the hybrid OA model, for future contract negotiations.

The position of the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Library on hybrid OA publishing is unchanged: hybrid OA publishing is not recommended. This position was stated by the Rector of the University of Helsinki on June 21, 2017 in paragraph four of the Principles of Open Publishing: “The University of Helsinki does not recommend hybrid publication (…) However, hybrid publication may be justified at the moment, if it facilitates the transfer to a fully open publication model. The University monitors the development of open access publication and the overall costs of publishing, and will take the necessary steps in good time to ensure open research.” Hybrid OA publishing is considered justified if it speeds up the transition to an open publication. On this issue, the University of Helsinki holds the same view as the Academy of Finland.

The University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Library support the transition to open access publishing by helping University researchers publish in both open access journals and subscription journals. The starting point for publishing at the University of Helsinki is that researchers publish in high-quality scientific journals – this is also stated in the first paragraph of the Principles of Open Publishing. The Publication Forum (Julkaisufoorumi, JUFO in Finnish) classification system greatly influences which journal a researcher chooses. The library does not make science policy, but it does try to support University of Helsinki researchers in the best possible way with its services.

The potential impact of Elsevier discounts on self-archiving (green OA) has been brought out during the debate. However, the compensation of APC payments does not in any way undermine other open access services offered by the library. Rather, the Helsinki University Library intends to significantly increase its efforts to promote self-archiving in 2018.

How, then, are APC discounts determined in general? The Helsinki University Library coordinates the discounts and negotiates with publishers. The information about current APC charges and discounts has been collected in the APC Guide. Negotiations on the discounts are carried out with one publisher at a time. For this reason, the discounts vary – and there are also many different APC discount models (see Jisc report: Financial and administrative issues around the article publishing costs for open access, 2017, 19). The negotiation process always begins from the proposals of University of Helsinki researchers. Based on these proposals, the library will study the benefits of a possible agreement.

The FinELib agreements represent offsetting deals in which the OA element is included in the subscription contracts with major publishers. APC discounts for Elsevier journals are an example of this. Offset agreements have been made with Taylor & Francis, Sage and Elsevier, and each contract is different.

Publish Open Access, Free of Charge in Elsevier journals

All researchers affiliated with University of Helsinki have now the possibility to publish their articles open access in Elsevier journals free of charge.

University of Helsinki provides support for open access publishing fees in over 1600 Elsevier journals. The following terms and conditions apply for financial publishing support:

  • University of Helsinki affiliated researcher is the corresponding author of the article.
  • Correspondence with the publisher from -email address (if possible).
  • The article is accepted to one of the journals listed in the contract.
  • The article is accepted for publishing during the period of 1.1.2018-31.12.2020.

Helsinki University Library pays any article processing fee for the researcher.

Instructions for the Elsevier open access publishing process and more information on the Article Processing Fee (ACP) discounts.

Kirjasto neuvottelee sopimukset digitaalisista opiskelumateriaaleista
Kuva: Helsingin yliopisto / Elias Kilkki 2017

New open access publishing model is part of the three year agreement between Finnish universities and research institutions and Elsevier. Read more about the agreement. In addition to the current Elsevier journals you have access to all Elsevier back-file issues. All these journals can be found via Helka database.

If you have any questions, please contact Helsinki University Library: We are happy to help!

No advancement in FinELib-Elsevier negotiations

The FinELib consortium that centrally acquires electronic materials for Finnish universities, universities of applied sciences, research institutes and public libraries, and the international science publisher Elsevier continue the negotiations started in 2016.Currently the agreement makes it possible for researchers to continue using Elsevier’s journals until end of 2017.

The ongoing negotiations try to speed up the transition to open access by getting Finnish researchers the right to publish open access in as many high quality scholarly journals as possible without extra charge (Article Processing Charges). Unfortunately the first meeting showed that Elsevier is not willing to develop open access business models. Elsevier insists on keeping up the traditional subscription model and the price increases linked to it.

FinELib and Elsevier will continue the negotiations in June.

FinELib negotiations: -campaign

Finnish Higher Education Institutions Continue Negotiations On Open Access with Elsevier

International science publisher Elsevier and Finland’s higher education and research institutes have agreed on one year’s extension to negotiations on electronic journals. More time is needed in order to find a solution for advancing open access, which is an extremely important goal for the Finnish research community.

This one year agreement makes it possible for researchers at University of Helsinki to continue using Elsevier’s journals in 2017 while the negotiations continue.

FinELib consortium, which s represents Finnish universities, universities of applied sciences, and research institutes in the negotiations, has two primary objectives: Getting the increasing price of scientific journal subscriptions under control, and reaching an agreement that improves the opportunities of Finnish researchers for publishing their articles openly online for all to use.

During the negotiations this autumn, it became clear that regardless of the will of the international research community, Elsevier is reluctant to develop open publishing business models, and instead wants to maintain the old subscription model. The publisher still sees open publishing as a marginal operating model, and not as the future of scientific publishing. It is a delaying tactic from the publisher to charge high additional fees for open articles when higher education and research institutes already pay constantly increasing subscription fees. Now we demand that Elsevier over the next year shows the ability to change and take a new direction towards open access which research community needs and expects.” says Keijo Hämäläinen, Vice-Rector of the University of Helsinki and chairman of the negotiations.

Finland’s course is set towards open publishing through the goals laid out by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Open Science and Research Initiative and the European Union. Open publishing increases the visibility of science and improves the opportunities for the whole society to utilise research conducted with public funds.

Finland’s scientific community has given its support to FinELib’s negotiation goals. Released in late November, the site has received 2700 signatures from the scientific research community. The signatories abstain from refereeing and editorial duties for the journals of the publishers involved in FinELib’s negotiations until FinELib can reach the negotiation goals.

Open publishing and the price of scientific knowledge are themes that are emphasised in similar negotiations all over the world, for example in the current negotiations in Germany” says Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen, a member of the negotiation group and Director of Library Network Services at the National Library of Finland. “Perseverance and a united front are the only way that the scientific community may affect large commercial publishers and effect a permanent change in the models of scientific publishing.

One year extension to the agreement makes it possible to find an open access model that genuinely promotes open access publishing without increasing the cost of publishing. If no agreement on open access is reached during 2017, the Finnish scientific community might at the end of year 2017 lose access to many important scientific journals.

Further information:

Keijo Hämäläinen, Vice-Rector of the University of Helsinki, chair of the contract negotiation group, tel. + 358 29 415 0640, Keijo.Hamalainen(at)

Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen, Director, National Library of Finland/Library Network Services, tel. +358 50 552 3056, kristiina.hormia(at)

FinELib science journal negotiations page