Study on the impact of the failed DEAL contracts with Elsevier published

Researchers analyse effects of access restrictions to Elsevier journals on publication and citation practices of German scientists and scholars

In 2018, negotiations on licensing agreements between the scientific publisher Elsevier and DEAL broke down. As a result, around 200 German research institutions terminated their licence agreements with Elsevier, whereupon the publisher restricted access to its journals at these institutions from July 2018. The study No Deal: Investigating the Influence of Restricted Access to Elsevier
Journals on German Researchers' Publishing and Citing Behaviours
 by researchers from Göttingen, Kiel and Cologne investigates from a bibliometric perspective what influence the access restrictions to Elsevier journals in connection with the DEAL contracts had on the publishing and citing practices of German researchers.

The study authors analysed a dataset of about 410,000 articles published by researchers at DEAL institutions affected by the access restrictions between 2012 and 2020. They examined the effects on the timing of contract cancellations with Elsevier, subject disciplines, collaboration patterns and the open access status of articles. They found that although the willingness to publish in Elsevier journals has decreased, researchers can still cite from Elsevier articles: The study demonstrates a decline in Elsevier's market share of articles from DEAL institutions from a peak of 25.3% in 2015 to 20.6% in 2020, with the largest year-on-year market share declines occurring in 2019 (-1.1%) and 2020 (-1.6%) after the introduction of restricted access. Similarly, according to the study, the proportion of citations from articles published by authors* at DEAL institutions to articles in Elsevier journals decreased year-on-year after 2018, although the decrease is smaller (-0.4% in 2019 and -0.6% in 2020) than the changes in publication volume. The study authors conclude that Elsevier access restrictions have led to a slightly lower willingness of researchers at DEAL institutions to publish their research in Elsevier journals.  On the other hand, researchers' ability to cite Elsevier articles is not strongly affected. The study concludes that researchers use a variety of other methods (e.g. interlibrary loan, sharing among colleagues or "shadow libraries") to access scientific literature.

Please find the original study as PDF here: No Deal: Investigating the Influence of Restricted Access to Elsevier Journals on German Researchers' Publishing and Citing Behaviours (
The study was conducted by researchers from the Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (ZBW) Kiel, the Lower Saxony State and University Library (SUB) GöttingenGESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences Cologne and the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU).