Elsevier and Open Access

At Elsevier, we believe in open science and open access to knowledge. We’ve built a wide-ranging portfolio of Open Access publishing options for authors and researchers across all subject areas. Nearly all our journals already offer immediate Open Access options and we are committed to finding a sustainable path so we can extend this to all our titles.

To support the integrity and advancement of scientific output, we work with the research community and invest in a robust peer-review process that enables the collation, vetting, curation, editing, dissemination and long-term preservation of high-quality content. Every day, some 8,000 Elsevier employees, 22,000 editors, 80,000 editorial board members and a network of 800,000 peer reviewers support Elsevier’s 2,500 journals across a wide range of research disciplines.

Fast facts on open access

  1. Almost all of our 2,500 journals offer the option to publish open access and make an article freely available.
  2. We help hundreds of institutions around the globe build their own open access programs by providing them with a cloud-hosted infrastructure using Digital Commons. More than 4.3 million open access articles are surfaced via Digital Commons and have been shared nearly a billion times.
  3. We are one of the fastest-growing open access publishers. In 2019, we published over 40% more open access articles than the previous year .
  4. In 2019, we launched 100 new gold open access journals, bringing the total to over 370 Elsevier-published fully OA titles. These sit alongside more than 1,900 hybrid journals that already offer the option to publish open access.
  5. To support the extraordinary efforts of the health and research communities combatting coronavirus, we have created a range of free resources, including textbooks and evidence-based clinical guidance as we have done for other health emergencies. At the time of writing more than 30,000 research articles on COVID-19 and related articles are freely available to read, download and data mine, with more being added each day. There have been more than 94 million downloads of these articles. We've also made this corpus available to available to PubMed Central, the archive of biomedical and life science at the US National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, and other publicly funded repositories globally, such as the WHO COVID database, for as long as needed while the public health emergency is ongoing.

Infographic: How Elsevier supports open access

Our recent transformative agreements to progress open access

Over the past 12 months, Elsevier has formed numerous pilot agreements around the world that support the open science and open access research ambitions of institutions and university consortia.

Each of these agreements is tailored to the specific needs of our partners, ranging from reading and publishing services, to broader areas such as reproducibility, transparency and collaboration in research. Our aim is to test and learn, to better understand how we can support all our customers’ differing needs.

We may not have all the answers from ‘day one’ but where we are united in our goal, we aim to test, learn and progress in partnership with the communities that we serve.

Collaborating to support open access policies

Elsevier is firmly committed to advancing scientific and healthcare outcomes through more open, reproducible and collaborative scholarly communication and knowledge systems. We collaborate with all stakeholders in this endeavour, including governmental, policy and industry initiatives. We share the goal of making high quality research outputs publicly available. We believe this must be done in a manner that is both fair to the researcher/author and sustainable for the partner publisher, while ensuring that innovative frameworks may be tested in the marketplace because, in our view, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all' model. You can find here our responses to open science and open access policy reviews and initiatives around the world.

FAQ on Elsevier and open access

How does Elsevier support open access?

We firmly believe in open and frictionless access to knowledge for everyone and we are one of the world's leading open access publishers. Almost all our 2,500 journals already offer immediate open access options and we are working to find a sustainable path for extending this to all our titles

In 2019 we published nearly 50,000 open access articles – an increase of 40% on the year before. We work closely with our customers to reach agreements that support their open access goals.

In the last year, we’ve forged numerous transformative agreements with institutions and consortia around the world that help support open access. Those include a first of its kind agreement in The Netherlands, which delivers immediate open access on nearly all Dutch-published research, full access to subscription articles and the joint development of a vendor neutral, interoperable open science infrastructure.

Does Elsevier support public access to tax-payer funded research?

Yes, and we enable this in many ways. We encourage researchers, whether funded by government or other sources, to make the manuscripts that they submit to Elsevier - so-called preprints - publicly available for free immediately. For example, researchers can use our SSRN service, a pre-print server that provides 13.1m annual downloads.

They can also publicly share all working papers and write-ups of their research results. Elsevier's policy on pre-prints is simple: authors can share their pre-print anywhere at any time. In that way, the outputs of government-funded research can be shared immediately to tax-payers and the general public at no additional cost to tax-payers.

In addition, since 2006, we voluntarily deposit all Elsevier-published National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded manuscripts to PubMed Central (PMC), a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. We account for vastly more open access manuscripts on PMC than any other publisher. We also make available manuscripts funded by other US government agencies via CHORUS, a public access initiative of which we are a founding member. We also support authors archiving their accepted manuscripts in repositories such as the one operated by the California Digital Library, and we provide free-to-use platforms and outlets for the public sharing of accepted manuscripts and research data-sets.

What’s the situation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)?

In 2019, Elsevier and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) began to discuss the possibility of a transformative agreement, similar in spirit to numerous agreements we have forged with other institutions and consortia over the past year.

More recently, we have been exploring a “read and publish” model, focusing on gold open access to meet MIT’s request for published articles to be available free immediately, alongside other elements of its new Framework for Publisher Contracts.

We see the MIT’s Framework as a strong roadmap for progress of science and the public good – we share and support this end goal. The challenge is how to get from where we are today to what the framework outlines.

We appreciated our collegial dialogue with the MIT team and had hoped to agree on a pilot construct that would allow us to achieve this goal. We regret that MIT has decided to end our negotiations, but we will continue to look for a path forward in the interests of the research communities we both serve and the important work that they do.

For more information, read here our article on Elsevier’s negotiations with the MIT.

What’s the situation with California Digital Library?

In 2018 Elsevier negotiated with the California Digital Library to provide University of California (UC) students and researchers with access to Elsevier's subscription journal content. The contract ended in December 2018, but we continued to provide access without payment to UC campuses until July 2019, while we worked hard to find a solution. Unfortunately we were not able to reach agreement with CDL and we implemented the cancellation request in July 2019. We are sorry for the inconvenience and we continue to work with the University of California to find a solution.

What’s the situation with DEAL in Germany?

Since 2016, Elsevier has been negotiating with Project DEAL, a consortium of 700 publicly funded research and higher education institutions in Germany, to provide students and researchers across the country with access to Elsevier’s ScienceDirect subscription journal content, as well as meeting Project DEAL’s open access objectives.

While working to find a solution we continued to provide access to subscription articles to German universities who were not making payment for up to 18 months. Unfortunately, we have so far been unable to come to an agreement and from July 2018 we implemented the cancellation requests of German institutions who are awaiting a move to a national license via Project DEAL.

We are aware that the current situation is not satisfactory for any of the parties involved, especially not the researchers whose work is affected by not being able to access the newest high-quality content available in the over 2500 journals published by Elsevier.

We remain open to discussions and are committed to finding a solution that ensures researchers in Germany can access high-quality scientific literature and publish in Open Access.