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No agreement between VSNU and Oxford University Press

The universities in the Netherlands and Oxford University Press (OUP) have been unable to able to reach a new agreement for access to academic journals.

The key priority in the negotiations for VSNU (the Association of Universities in the Netherlands) was facilitating the transition to open access – freely accessible articles – without Dutch scholars having to pay double to make them available in this way. OUP made a proposal to the Dutch universities which did not include an offer for affordable open access. The research universities in the Netherlands are unable to agree to this.

The new standard

Instead of a step forward towards achieving the objective of 100% open access by 2020, compared to the agreements that the VSNU has made with other publishers, the OUP’s offer is a step back. The VSNU is happy to resume negotiations if OUP is willing to make fair and more ambitious agreements relating to open access. President of the Executive Board of VU University Amsterdam Jaap Winter, who acted as the chief negotiator on behalf of the VSNU: ‘Publishers can elect to work proactively towards this development, but open access will come to be the new standard either way – with or without them.’

Medical journals

OUP mainly specialises in medical journals, so for University Medical Centers in particular it is important that a future-proof agreement is established. The Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU) fully supports the VSNU’s negotiating position. As long as no new agreement is in place, academics will have to take into account the necessity to access any articles they should need, published by OUP from 1 May 2017 onwards, by some other means. They can, however, continue to publish in the relevant journals as they have done previously.


Agreements about the subscription fees of academic journals are made with academic publishers on behalf of all universities in the Netherlands, with the VSNU acting as negotiator. Universities will only seek to renew agreements pertaining to subscriptions under the condition that publishers work towards the transition to open access. The fact that OUP is currently unable to take this step is regrettable, but fortunately this is an exception, given the general trend towards open access.


The boards of Dutch universities feel very responsible for the research of their scientists and are very aware of the consequences of the current situation for all researchers.

On behalf  of the Executive Board,

Prof. Dr.  C.J.J.M.  Stolker, Rector Magnificus


Staff and students at Leiden University retain access to OUP articles prior to 2017.  These articles are accessible via the Catalogue of the University Library. To gain access to recent articles from current years, we advise you to try the following approaches:

  • Staff can use their international network to request PDFs of articlesvia ResearchGate, Academia.edu or Mendeley.  Please do bear in mind the copyright rules applied by these networks.
  • You can also ask one of the authors or an international colleague for the article. This is permissible by copyright law under the term ‘fair usage’.
  • Staff and students can often find the author’s versions (= the final version of an article before it is published in a journal) via Google Scholar, if these are published in open access sources.
  • Staff and students can use inter-library lending.This does incur some costs, which the library will accept in the case of OUP journals. Please go to the library in person and make your request at the lending desk.Personal IBL accounts cannot be used for this purpose because the item you are requesting cannot be supplied in the Netherlands.
  • You can search for Open Access articles from OUP journals via diverse tools such as Unpaywall, DOI and Open Access button
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