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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Thursday that it is ceasing negotiations with academic publisher Elsevier for a new journal subscription contract. The institution currently subscribes to nearly 700 journals on a title-by-title basis. 

MIT joins a growing number of institutions that have decided to walk away from negotiations with the publisher, including the University of California system, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the State University of New York system.

MIT said in a news release that Elsevier “was not able to present a proposal that aligned with the principles of the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts.”

This framework was published in October 2019 as part of the final recommendations of an open-access task force created by MIT to promote the open sharing of MIT publications, data, software and educational materials.

A key proposal in the framework for publisher contracts is that no author should be required to relinquish copyright of their work, and must have "generous rights to reuse their own work." 

“We’ve seen widespread support in all quarters of the MIT community -- faculty, students, postdocs and staff alike -- for the core grounding of the framework: that the value in published scholarship originates in our work and in the institutions that support us,” said Roger Levy, associate professor in the department of brain and cognitive sciences and chair of the Committee on the Library System (CLS), which collaborated in drafting the framework.

“CLS was unanimous in its recommendation to end negotiations. We are publicly committed to supporting the rights of MIT community members to freely share the scholarship we create and stand by the principles articulated in the MIT Framework in our recommendation,” said Levy.

Chris Bourg, director of the MIT Libraries, said that in the face of unprecedented global challenges, “equitable and open access to knowledge is more critical than ever.”

“We hope to be able to resume productive negotiations if and when Elsevier is able to provide a contract that reflects our communities' needs and values and advances MIT’s mission,” said Bourg. “In the meantime, we will continue to use the framework to pursue new paths to achieving open access to knowledge.”

(Note: This article has been updated to clarify the nature of MIT's current contract with Elsevier).