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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has ended negotiations over a new contract with the major journal publisher Elsevier, making it the latest high-profile academic institution to walk away from Elsevier amid an escalating fight that could shape the way that academic research gets read and paid for.

The decision, announced on Thursday, is the result of an ongoing dispute over open-access research, which is made freely available to the public online. MIT’s move follows the giant University of California system, which last year decided not to renew its subscriptions to Elsevier-published journals after months of negotiations, and the SUNY system in New York, which announced this spring that it would not renew its bundled journal subscription deal with Elsevier and instead only pay for a core list of a few hundred journals. A consortium representing universities and research institutes in Germany has also walked away from the negotiating table with Elsevier.


These universities are raising the question of what value, exactly, Elsevier adds to the publishing process in exchange for costly fees. After all, the articles that Elsevier publishes are produced by academics, often funded by government grants, and peer reviewed for free by other academics.

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