"No Deal: German Researchers’ Publishing and Citing Behaviours after Big Deal Negotiations with Elsevier"

In 2014, a union of German research organisations established Projekt DEAL, a national-level project to negotiate licensing agreements with large scientific publishers. Negotiations between DEAL and Elsevier began in 2016, and broke down without a successful agreement in 2018; in this time, around 200 German research institutions cancelled their license agreements with Elsevier, leading Elsevier to restrict journal access at those institutions. We investigated the effect on researchers’ publishing and citing behaviours from a bibliometric perspective, using a dataset of ~400,000 articles published by researchers at DEAL institutions between 2012–2020. We further investigated these effects with respect to the timing of contract cancellations, research disciplines, collaboration patterns, and article open-access status. We find evidence for a decrease in Elsevier’s market share of articles from DEAL institutions, with the largest year-on-year market share decreases occuring from 2018 to 2020 following the implementation of access restrictions. We also observe year-on-year decreases in the proportion of citations, although the decrease is smaller. We conclude that negotiations with Elsevier and access restrictions have led to some reduced willingness to publish in Elsevier journals, but that researchers are not strongly affected in their ability to cite Elsevier articles, implying that researchers use other methods to access scientific literature.


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Author: Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.