In May of 2019 we wrote about the University of California Library System’s rejection of the Elsevier “big deal” subscription. Since then multiple other institutions have not renewed their own big deal packages, including MIT. MIT has also published the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts and cited differences between the framework and Elsevier’s proposed contract as the reason for their decision not to renew.

The Framework stipulates that the “published scholarship originates in the labor of authors, peer reviewers, and editors, and the institutions that support them.” While journals and publishers do often provide valuable services to authors and the scholarly community, the framework developed by MIT also ensures that research is available in an equitable way to a broad audience.

While MIT intended the framework for its own internal guidance, it has also been endorsed by over a hundred other institutions. Some of those institutions, such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Virginia research libraries, have also declined to renew their own “big deal” packages with Elsevier.

Meanwhile, the University of California announced earlier this year that the cancellation “may have had less impact than expected.” Apart from a poll they conducted the library received only around six emails regarding the cancellation and saw only a 15-20 percent rise in inter-library loan requests. It appears that instead of being an aberration University of California’s decision marked the beginning of a much wider move away from the “big deal” model and towards a wider movement that acknowledged the contributions of publishers but also emphasized more open, equitable access to scholarly materials for researchers.

ISU ReD is our institutional repository and is committed to providing Open Access publishing options for our faculty, staff, and students. Authors can often place pre-prints and published articles in a wide variety of formats on ISU ReD. If you wish to discuss these options further, for current or already published research, please contact Milner Library’s Scholarly Communication Team at

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