More on the UC and Elsevier Split

On February 28, the University of California (UC) announced that it would not be renewing its subscription with Elsevier. In its negotiations, UC was trying to ensure that research produced by its campuses would be freely available to researchers around the globe immediately. According to UC, Elsevier was proposing to charge UC authors large fees on top of the existing multi-million dollar contract the University had for access to Elsevier journals. In a stance in support of open access, UC decided to walk away from Elsevier entirely. The UC Academic Council released a statement on the same day, supporting the efforts to negotiate to ensure open access to research. Elsevier released a statement in response via twitter. In the statement, Elsevier expresses disappointment that the negotiations were broken off by UC and says that it put forward a proposal to support the multi-payer open access requests by allowing researchers the choice to publish for open access as well as a “scaled path to reduce costs for each campus library.”  Berkeley News interviewed University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, who served as the co-chair of the negotiation team for UC. According to MacKie-Mason, UC wanted to reduce costs (the University was paying $11 million in subscriptions to Elsevier each year) and ensure open access for UC authors publishing with Elsevier. UC was asking for a contract that integrated a paid subscription fee with the open access publishing fees, which is a new approach. The offer by Elsevier agreed to do this, but at a much higher cost of around $30 million more per three year contract. The main idea is to makeup the loss in subscriptions by moving to a market that charges for the publishing, rather than for the reading as it works now. MacKie-Mason pointed out that although UC is the first University system to cut ties with Elsevier in the U.S., the Max Planck Society, University Alliance in Sweden, and University Alliance in Hungary have already done so.

In Canada, Artificial Intelligence is coming… for your legal research fees?

Some information vendors have been touting the value and benefit – specifically the apparent efficiency in legal research – of AI for a few years now, and it seems that the Honourable Mr. Justice A.C.R. Whitten of the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice is a believer.

In a recent decision [Cass v. 1410088 Ontario Inc., 2018 ONSC 6959], the Justice denies a $900.00 “legal research” disbursement for a number of reasons, and mentions – albeit in what would likely be considered dicta – that “[i]f artificial intelligence sources were employed, no doubt counsel’s preparation time would have been significantly reduced.” [¶ 34]

Also interesting, however, was that the Justice declined to adopt the simple suggestion of the plaintiff to strike the disbursement based on the query – “why is there a legal research fee for case precedents which are available for free through CanLII or publically accessible websites?”

h/t – Law Librarian Blog

SocArXiv – a new open access legal repository?

Introducing SocArXiv, an institutional repository for social sciences.

SocArXiv is modeled on ArXiv, the successful open access preprint repository for scientists. Still in the development stage, SocArXiv is currently a partnership with the University of Maryland and the non-profit Center for Open Science that will be a “free, open access, open source archive for social science research.” ( The “temporary home” of SocArXiv already holds many preprints. At the time of this writing, one preprint has nearly 700 downloads. While there is currently no organizational structure, a quick and dirty search for “law” reveals that legal scholars have discovered and are submitting preprints to SocArXiv.

SocArXiv launched just about a month after the acquisition of SSRN by Elsevier when speculation about maintaining availability of open access scholarship was rampant. Concerns about SSRN include a spate of take-down notices (now abated), questions about Elsevier’s commitment to open access, and its motivation in making the purchase. See Paul Caron’s blog post Is it Time for Authors to Leave SSRN?, Prawfsblog’s SSRN, Elsevier and the Alternatives (again) and In the Open’s For the 1000th time: who will own (and mine) the scholarly record? blog post.

In addition to SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network, law schools often archive scholarly work at open access repositories that are self-managed (e.g., DSpace) or outsourced to the Digital Commons run by bepress.* Dspace is open source code that requires sufficient institutional technology infrastructure to self-manage the platform. Bepress and Elsevier are vendors of the electronic platforms that hold and organize scholarly output.

From the academic viewpoint, SSRN was generally “free” for scholars submitting research and fee-based for both institutional ejournals and for current awareness services. We’ve received no indication from Elsevier that the fee structure has changed. Bepress has no “free” level – scholars or their institutions must purchase a Selected Works page or Digital Commons package to submit materials. For a more detailed discussion of payment models see Sharing for Social Scientists by Ruth Lewis (May 2016).

If you want to follow development of SocArXiv, the permanent URL will be and the development blog is at In the blawgosphere, information about SocArXiv may be found at LLRX and Prawfsblog.

* For a more complete list of legal repositories, see Robert Richard’s Legal Information System & Legal Informatics Resources: Institutional & Scholarly Repositories: Legal (Selected) at (last retrieved 9/15/2016)

“Beyond Beall’s List: Better Understanding Predatory Publishers”

Of possible interest:

Margie Maes
AALL Vendor Liaison

Information has value

ACRL recently released its Final Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. It reminds us that users, whether college students or not, start with the perception that information is “free” and lack understanding of how personal information is being commodified.The third frame – “Information has value” – addresses the complex values associated with information by introducing concepts of publishing and intellectual property. It speaks of information “as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.” Read the full framework for tools to incorporate in your reference consults, training or teaching.