Wiley has announced a combined open access and subscription agreement with Norway's research institutions, just as the country made public that it had decided not to renew contracts with Elsevier.
UNIT, the Norwegian Directorate of ICT and Joint Services in Higher Education and Research, said in a statement that "despite good discussions", the offer it had received from Elsevier was "a long way from fulfilling the Norwegian requirements for open access to research articles", with "no movement in transitioning the agreement from paying to read to paying for open publishing."
The Norwegian government aims at making all publicly funded research articles openly available by 2024, and one of its stated guiding principles is that "publishing open access shall not increase total costs".
UNIT said the rectorates at the universities of Bergen, Oslo, Tromso and Trondheim all supported its position.
The vice rector for research at the University of Bergen Margarethe Hagen commented: "It is very disappointing that we did not manage to reach an acceptable agreement with Elsevier, a publisher that accounts for a substantial proportion of Norwegian publishing output and is an important stakeholder for us on the road towards open research. We wish to co-operate with all publishers in order to create a good framework for open publishing, but sometimes we simply stand too far apart." At the university of Oslo, rector Rector Svein Stølen stated: "The offers we have received from the publisher do not fulfil our demands of Open Access. Elsevier are not showing any inclination towards reducing costs for reading access and to shift their business model towards charging for publishing instead."
Elsevier said: "While Elsevier is working hard to accommodate the desire of some for an author-pays-to-publish (open access) world, the reality is that current author choices mean that 85% of journal articles globally are published under the reader-pays (subscription) model, where authors publish for free.
"It’s possible to come up with a negotiated agreement at reasonable costs, and Elsevier offered Norway multiple low-cost options for a rapid transition to gold open access publishing, but open access is a service that has to be funded in some form. Norway is essentially asking to receive two services for the price of one.
"Elsevier remains open to restarting constructive talks to help and support Norway’s transition to open access. UNIT’s decision to discontinue access to Elsevier’s latest high-quality content is unfortunate for everyone, particularly researchers, especially as Elsevier cannot continue service indefinitely without being paid. We will continue to seek an agreement with UNIT directly and by communicating with the research community."
Meanwhile the three-year deal with Wiley will provide 33 Norwegian institutions with continued access to approximately 1,500 Wiley subscription journals and enables their affiliated authors to publish open access articles in Wiley titles in an agreement described as "the first of its kind in Norway."
Under the agreement, all eligible researchers and students will be automatically identified and notified of the opportunity to publish OA through their institutional connection, at no additional charge.
Judy Verses, executive vice president of Research at Wiley, said: "This partnership with the Norwegian Directorate for ICT and Joint Services in Higher Education and Research will drive us towards a more open research landscape. This collaborative agreement is another example of how critical partnerships are in creating impact for researchers' work, enhancing publishing services for authors and librarians, and the importance of offering sustainable publishing models."
Roar Olsen, the director of UNIT, said: "This agreement is the first of its kind in Norway, and it is UNIT's goal to enter into similar agreements with a number of publishers."
The University of California recently announced it had decided not to renew subscriptions with Elsevier for 2019, saying it was taking a "firm stand" because the publisher was unwilling to meet its open access goals.