5 surprising facts about Elsevier and open access

As the world's 2nd largest gold Open Access publisher – and with thousands of articles green OA enabled – we continue to meet researchers’ needs however they choose to publish

open access main
Elsevier has a new open access page and infographic. You can find a link at the end of this story.

Open access is growing across the industry, with Elsevier a key player. In 2016, we became the world’s second largest publisher of OA content, publishing over 20,000 OA articles with continuing high quality but at lower prices than our competitors. This is a testament to how committed we are to gold OA, and to the breadth of OA options we provide our authors.

While OA publishing is growing, subscription remains the dominant business model researchers choose to publish under, which makes green open access an equally important route to OA, alongside gold. We have continued to focus on green OA over the last year, building tools and services and working in collaboration with institutional repositories and funders.

Elsevier’s commitment to open access and the enhancements we continue to make to our services are set out in further detail here. We also elaborate on some of these below.

We're making it easier to publish OA

In 2016, an estimated 2.1 million peer-reviewed articles were published globally. Half a million of these were open access articles, either published in fully open access or hybrid journals. Elsevier published 420,000 articles in 2016, over 20,000 of which were open access.

Authors have many publishing options at Elsevier: if they want to publish open access, they can choose to submit to any of our 170 fully open access titles, or to submit OA to more than 1850 hybrid journals. After publication, the final published article is published open access on ScienceDirect and is immediately free to access for everyone.

Those who choose to publish subscription articles also have options to open their work through Green OA. All our journals provide an option to self-archive, and we are increasingly enabling green OA through our participation in partnerships such as CHORUS.

Our article publishing charges (APCs) are comparable with other publishers but deliver higher quality

As the second largest gold OA publisher, we have achieved this growth in OA while continuing to maintain below average prices at above average quality: our article publishing charges (APCs) remain at industry average, while delivering significantly higher quality compared to our competitors, measured by field-weighted citation impact (FWCI). For example, our hybrid portfolio has an average APC that is slightly below the market average, yet the FWCI of our hybrid portfolio is the highest in the world for hybrid OA publishing.

Elsevier’s APCs, which are publicly available, are tailored to the community: they range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the journal and discipline. We’re also careful to make sure there is no “double-dipping” – APCs are there to fund the gold OA publishing process, just as subscriptions are there to fund the publication of subscription articles. We do not mix the two models, and our subscription pricing variables are applied only to subscription articles; articles published open access are not included in this calculation.

We've made it easier to find OA publications

In addition to getting value for money and higher than average quality, researchers enjoy many other benefits when publishing with us, not least increased visibility.  We have made specific OA-friendly updates to ScienceDirect, for example, tagging articles with “open access” and enabling the searching, browsing, and setting up alerts for OA publications. This makes OA content easier for our readers to find too. Similarly, Scopus now indexes 3,476 OA journals from more than 5,000 publishers. We are working on making it possible to search for OA information on an article level in Scopus as well.

We support green open access options

As the gold open access model continues to grow, the subscription model is growing too, reinforced by funding body policies globally that have green OA at the forefront. We provide a snapshot of these here. Many authors choose to continue publishing under the subscription model; indeed the majority of the articles we published last year were under the subscription model.

The most common form of Green OA enables access to an earlier version of a subscription article after an embargo period. All Elsevier journals have a green open access option for authors to self-archive, and our journal embargo finder makes it even easier for authors to quickly and easily look up their chosen journal’s embargo period. We have also developed four ScienceDirect APIs to help institutional repository managers enhance discoverability and accessibility through their IRs. In fact, a lot of our focus over the last year has been on partnering and collaborating to improve and solve the pain points of Green OA. We have worked with the University of Florida, for example, and through CHORUS, we made over 3,000 accepted manuscripts available for US partner funding agencies in 2016. We expect this number to grow through 2017.

We are also supporting other green OA channels, including the sharing of preprints: our sharing policy enables authors to share their preprints anytime, anywhere, and in May last year, Elsevier acquired the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN), the leading social sciences repository for preprints, which has just expanded into Biology. Authors can also continue to benefit from Elsevier’s Share Links, which enables free public access to a final article online for up to 50 days after it is published. In addition, 108 Elsevier journals – including Cell Press titles – have an Open Archive, providing free access to archived content on ScienceDirect.

We encourage authors to share their data

The open access landscape now incorporates open data, and most policies about OA publications are being expanded to include open data requirements. For example, researchers are increasingly required to have data management plans. The report we recently launched with the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) demonstrates why data sharing isn’t always easy. But we are leading the way, for example, by ensuring that authors cite datasets in a consistent way for all of our journals and continuing to offer data storage and sharing solutions such as Mendeley Data. In fact, 55,000 researchers use our open data tools, including Mendeley Data, Hivebench and Data Search each month. Through our Database Linking Tool and partnerships, we have so far created 1.6 million links from published articles to datasets stored in 65 external data repositories. This is in addition to the 1,400 datasets published on Mendeley Data.

Our work on openness will continue next year as we progress our open science partnership in the UK and continue to evolve our open science services, guided by our mission to improve research performance.

Check out Elsevier's new OA page and infographic.



Written by

Gemma Hersh

Written by

Gemma Hersh

As Elsevier’s VP of Open Science, Gemma Hersh is responsible for developing and refreshing policies in areas related to open access, open data, text mining and others. Gemma also travels around the world to meet with government officials, institutions, funders and others to build, strengthen and maintain relationships and discuss areas of mutual interest. In the UK, Gemma serves as publisher representative on the Universities UK (UUK) Open Access Monitoring Group and is a member of the International STM Public Affairs Committee.

Before joining Elsevier, Gemma was Head of Public Affairs for the UK Publishers Association and has worked in the creative industries both in government and in industry for the last seven years. She holds an MPhil in Politics and Comparative Government from Oxford University, but her real love is history, in which she holds a First Class Degree from Kings College, London.


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