Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Purdue University Purdue Logo Purdue Libraries

Sustainable Scholarship : FAQ

Learn more about ongoing negotiations with publishers, alternative access resources, and the future of sustainable scholarship at Purdue.


Questions? Contact:

Purdue West Lafayette: Rebecca Richardson,

Purdue Fort Wayne: Nathan Rupp, and/or refer to this document on PFW document delivery services and library policies here

Purdue Northwest: Tricia Jauquet,

Sustainable Scholarship FAQ

How did we get into this situation in the first place? 

The system of traditional academic publishing and its impact on promotion and tenure processes and academic culture is broken, but we can fix it! Read more about the root of the problem here.  


I believe strongly in this work. What can an individual faculty member or graduate student do to help?

There are several ways that the campus community can assist the Libraries in addressing the problem of unsustainable scholarship:

  • Work with librarians in your subject areas to identify open access alternatives for course readings and research. We need the help of faculty and other informed users to make the best, most sustainable decisions possible and lead the way for other campus colleagues to do the same.
  • Support efforts by professional associations and other groups to identify sustainable and affordable ways to distribute scholarly information.
  • Consider publisher behavior—especially in terms of pricing—when you are choosing where to publish articles, which editorial boards to serve on, and what you do with your copyright.

Take an interest in the future of publishing and communication within your field. Reduced access to information caused by high prices is a problem faculty can help solve.

Elsevier Negotiations FAQ

Elsevier Negotiations: FAQ


How will you decide which titles to keep? 

Our decisions will be largely informed by local usage data and data from Unsub, a tool that identifies high value titles and projects future spending. The great news is that Unsub revealed a high rate of usage retention under the new title-by-title model. West Lafayette campus is projected to retain access to 90% of its usage, while Purdue Northwest and Fort Wayne are projected to retain 88% and 85% of their usage, respectively.


What role will feedback from faculty, staff, and students from all three Purdue campuses play in your final decisions?

While this decision is largely data-driven, data cannot tell us the entire story. Feedback from our campus communities about what titles matter to you most, especially in regard to teaching and research, will play a qualitative factor in finalizing our cancelation and renewal lists. While advocating for a particular title does not guarantee that it will be renewed, we rely on your feedback to determine the resource needs of our campuses, and your insights will help us make decisions on titles that fall into "gray areas" in terms of usage data and quantitative factors. 

What does "retain 90% usage" mean? Does that mean we will retain 90% of our Elsevier titles?

Retaining 90% usage does not mean retaining subscriptions to 90% of Elsevier titles. It means we anticipate that our users will still be able to instantly access 90% of Elsevier articles in our new contract model, whether through renewed subscriptions, open access, perpetual backfile access, preprint archives, or ResearchGate.


Are you doing this in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? 

No. The cost of subscription resources has drastically outpaced the rate of inflation and university budgets for years. This has been a long time coming. 

Each year, Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies negotiates with publishers and vendors to provide access to the databases and journals that advance Purdue University’s world-changing research and transformative instruction. Unfortunately, the cost of these resources rises by 4-8% annually, far outpacing the rate of inflation and the realistic constraints of university budgets. When we negotiate with publishers, we seek contracts that are affordable, sustainable, and transparent, but sometimes publishers insist on significant increases that far exceed available funding. Purdue is not alone in challenging these unsustainable increases- academic libraries of all sizes across the nation face the same reality.  See news from SUNY, University of North Carolina, and Iowa State for a few examples.


Will campus get to provide input on which subscriptions to keep or cancel? 

Purdue faculty, staff, and students from the West Lafayette and regional campuses had the opportunity to review the proposed cancellations list and submit feedback through December 4, 2020. The survey is now closed. Your needs and insights are important to us as we make these challenging decisions. 


If we have to cancel journal subscriptions, what alternative means of access will we have?

Access to cancelled subscription resources will remain in perpetuity for the years that we have paid for them. 

Alternative access includes the expanded use of Interlibrary Loan, using prep-print servers, locating open access copies of resources using free plug-ins like Google Scholar and PubMed Central, and reaching out to an author and requesting a copy directly. More detailed information can be found on our Alternative Access page. 


How long do you expect negotiations to last? 

Purdue University anticipates providing Elsevier with a final list of subscription titles to renew in January 2021. 


Is Purdue considering canceling their entire Elsevier contract like the UC system did?

No. At this time, Purdue is only focused on reducing our $3.3M contract by $1.5M while retaining our most critical information resources.

Does this impact regional campuses, too? 

Yes. Purdue Northwest and Purdue Fort Wayne are part of our Elsevier contract. Representatives from our regional campuses have been part of our negotiation team from the beginning, and usage data from both regional campuses factored into our evaluation process. 


Why doesn’t the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) negotiate as a consortium? 

Elsevier contracts are unique to each university, and subsequently, have different costs and terms. Some of our Big 10 peers are locked into much longer contracts with Elsevier than others, making group negotiation difficult, and the subscription needs of each university vary by a number of factors. 


What happens next year?

Our 2021 contract with Elsevier will be for one year only. We will be closely monitoring use of Elsevier content moving forward, including data from Interlibrary Loan about requests for subsequently canceled content. Adjustments to our subscription lists in future contracts will be made in accordance with the evolving needs of our campus communities. 


Is there somewhere I can send a letter of support? 

Of course! Please email your letter of support to

I have more questions that aren’t answered here. Who should I contact? 

Send your questions about Elsevier negotiations or sustainable scholarship to and a member of our Libraries team will address your concerns.