Access to Research

COAR-recting the record

Elsevier addresses misperceptions in the Coalition of Open Access Repositories (COAR) ‘Statement against Elsevier’s sharing policy’

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Alicia Wise, PhDSince announcing our new sharing policy April 30, we have received neutral-to-positive responses from research institutions and the wider research community. We are therefore a little surprised that COAR has formed such a negative view and chosen not to feedback their concerns directly to us. We would like to correct the misperceptions.

Our sharing policy is more liberal in supporting the dissemination and use of research: 

  • At each stage of the publication process, authors can share their research: before submission, from acceptance, upon publication, and post-publication.
  • In institutional repositories, which no longer require a formal agreement to host full-text content.
  • Authors can also share on commercial platforms such as social collaboration networks.
  • We provide new services to authors such as the Share Link, which enables authors to post and share a customized link for 50 days free access to the final published article.
  • For authors who want free immediate access to their articles, we continue to give all authors a choice to publish gold open access with a wide number of open access journals and over 1,600 hybrid titles.

Unlike the claims in this COAR document, the policy changes are based on feedback from our authors and institutional partners, they are evidence-based, and they are in alignment with the STM article sharing principles. They introduce absolutely no changes in our embargo periods. And they are not intended to suddenly embargo and make inaccessible content currently available to readers – as we have already communicated in Elsevier Connect.

In fact, we have been developing services, in partnership with libraries, to help institutional repositories track research output and display content to their users. This includes:

  • Sharing metadata: In order to showcase an institutions’ work, an institutional repository must identify their institution’s research output. By integrating the ScienceDirect metadata API into the repository, this task becomes simple. Even in cases where the repository doesn’t hold the full text manuscript, the article information and abstract can be displayed.
  • Sharing user access information and embedding final articles: We are testing a workflow in which a user’s access level to the full text is checked on the fly, and if full-text access is available, the user will be served the final published version, instead of the preprint or manuscript hosted by the repository. Users who are not entitled to view the full text of the final article will be led to the version available in the repository or — if this is not available — to a page where they can view the first page of the article and options for accessing it (including via interlibrary loan). This ensures that users will always be served the best available version. This also enables the repository to display the best available version to their users even if no self-archived manuscript is available.

We have not only updated our policies, we are active in developing and delivering technology that enables research to be shared more widely.

COAR states that the addition of a CC-BY-NC-ND license is unhelpful. Feedback suggests that clarity about how manuscripts can be used is welcome; when asked in surveys, authors often choose NC ND of their own volition (see the T&F study from 2014), and it works across a broad range of use cases.

Our refreshed policies are about green OA, and some elements of this – for example, the use of embargo periods – are specifically for green OA when it is operating in tandem with the subscription business model.  Here time is needed for the subscription model to operate as libraries will understandably not subscribe if this material is available immediately and for free. 

In closing, we appreciate an open dialogue and are always happy to have a dialogue to discuss these or any other issues further.

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Elsevier Connect Contributor

As Director of Access and Policy for Elsevier, Dr. Alicia Wise (@wisealic) is responsible for delivering Elsevier's vision for universal access to high-quality scientific publications. She leads strategy and policy in areas such as open access, philanthropic access programs, content accessibility, and access technologies. Based in Oxford, she has a PhD in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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