Elsevier’s Confidentiality Clauses

I came across this a little while ago (here, where the context is explained in more detail). It comes from a conference about the future of scientific publishing, and features David Tempest of Elsevier responding to a question from Dr Stephen Curry.

I hadn’t realised before this question that Elsevier not only charges eye-wateringly expensive subscription rates for its journals but also often requires institutional libraries to sign a confidentiality clause under which they are forbidden from revealing how much the subscription costs. Here Mr Tempest attempts to explain this policy:

So there you have it. If people actually knew what other people were being charged there’s a danger that prices would be driven relentlessly downward. Shocking.

You have to feel some sympathy for Elsevier, struggling along on a profit margin of a mere 36%. It must be so difficult for them to make ends meet…

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9 Responses to “Elsevier’s Confidentiality Clauses”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Go away.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Peter, is your librarian unable to supply you with those numbers for U Sussex?

    • telescoper Says:

      I don’t know – I haven’t asked her yet!

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I hope you will, and report what happens.

        Frankly I think it’s time to fight dirty, and there are some fairly obvious ways how.

    • Adrian Burd Says:

      Hmmm…..curious. I’m sure I’ve seen lists of exactly how much our library is paying for each individual journal. During those dark days of cost cutting, faculty were asked to select which journals could be cut, and as part of the information provided to us was a spreadsheet listing the journal, publisher and cost to the library. That was a few years ago now, so maybe policies have changed, or maybe this is something that is only done in the UK?

  3. […] “I came across this a little while ago (here, where the context is explained in more detail). It comes from a conference about the future of scientific publishing …” (more) […]

  4. […] your institution (of which your institution may not be able to disclose the details of, because of confidentiality clauses!), the publisher could even ask for additional fees to be paid to cover this […]

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