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Cancellation of the current Elsevier contract as of 31 December 2016

The Oberwolfach Library terminates contract with Elsevier1

Since 2006, research guests of the MFO have been able to access about 80 mathematical journals provided by Elsevier Publishing.

In consultation with more than 60 major German academic and research institutions, the Oberwolfach Library cancelled all subscriptions to online journals provided by Elsevier Publishing, effective 31 December 2016.

Starting 1 January 2017, the current issues of all Elsevier journals will no longer be accessible online. However, you will still be able to obtain the articles via inter-library loan or other document delivery services. Please feel free to contact the Library staff if you need any assistance.

Fortunately, users will still be able to access issues of Elsevier journals published between 1907 and 2002. These will remain permanently accessible to online users thanks to a DFG-financed national licence.


The cancellation came about during negotiations with Elsevier which were being conducted by the DEAL project group. The "Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany"2 launched the DEAL Project under the aegis of the German Rectors' Conference3. The aim was to secure nationwide licensing rights to information services provided by the major scientific publishers, such as Elsevier, Wiley and Springer/Nature. The DEAL Project represents more than 100 negotiation mandates by German universities and research institutions.

Since June 2016, the DEAL project group has been conducting negotiations with Elsevier Publishing. The objective was to broker a new contract which would provide permanent access rights to all Elsevier journals for all German universities and research organisations, including an automatic open‐access switch for all publications by German institutions and an acceptable pricing model based on publication quantity.

Elsevier categorically rejected the conversion to open‐access service on the grounds that it did not correspond with its business model. The publisher aims to continue its policy of strictly separating subscription‐based access and open‐access to its electronic journals. Elsevier insisted that its subscribers extend their contracts, which are due to expire at the end of 2016, by 14 October 2016. In close consultation with the DEAL project group, some 60 German academic and research institutions decided against prolonging their individual contracts with Elsevier after 2016.

During negotiations on 29 November 2016, Elsevier submitted an initial proposal for a national licensing agreement which rejected the principles of open access and all arguments for implementing a fair and transparent pricing policy. For this reason, negotiations were called off until further notice. In response, Elsevier has threatened to abruptly discontinue service to all German academic and research institutions whose contracts are expiring at the end of 2016.

The MFO will continue to monitor the ongoing negotiations with a view to an outcome that combines access to all publications for our guests with a sustainable pricing model. We are interested in hearing your comments on this issue. You may contact us at

1 This notice has been partially taken over with friendly permission of Universität Münster  (see:
2 Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Leibniz Association, Helmholtz Association, German Research Foundation (DFG) and German Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, HRK)

  • 2018