Beyond open access – how your journal can benefit

Exploring flexible access, transparency and sharing at Elsevier

Beyond OA article image

If you have questions or feel confused about OA then you’re by no means alone! As part of Open Access Week 2018, we are focussing on open access and related matters. In this second article from our OA series, we first consider how to stay flexible in the face of changing needs from the research community before taking a look at the many options Elsevier enables to promote access, sharing and transparency and how this all links to the wider context of open science.

Staying flexible

As you will surely have seen from the experience in your subject area, research communities don’t stand still for long… The needs of these communities – and the many authors they represent – can change radically. Sometimes this process is driven by pressure from external sources (funding bodies, government mandates, etc.) and sometimes the change comes from within. Regardless, we work hard to ensure that all our journals remain responsive to the needs of the community they represent.

What this means in practice is that it is possible for a journal to change business model should the need arise. For example, we might note an overwhelming preference for gold OA in a journal and take the decision to move it to a fully gold OA model. Alternatively, challenges with OA uptake including lack of funding for APCs or lack of appetite in the community might suggest that a journal needs to consider a flip from OA to hybrid in order to continue to support itself. This sort of decision is taken with the input and support of yourself and the Editorial Board. As we’ve noted in the related article; you’re possibly best placed to alert us to changing attitudes within your community and we welcome the opportunity to discuss how best we can evolve to ensure we’re keeping pace with your community’s needs.

Beyond OA

OA is a very significant phenomenon but at the same time is merely one aspect of a broader movement: open science. Open Science describes a more inclusive, more collaborative and more transparent way of working. At Elsevier, we are partnering to deliver this more inclusive, collaborative and transparent world of research, as we believe there are elements of  open science that can benefit research and society as well as drive research performance, which is core to our mission.

So, what’s going on then? The answer is… quite a lot…! First, we’re providing platforms, engaging in partnerships and promoting tools that drive collaboration. Second we’re taking an active lead on encouraging transparency and reproducibility, whether it’s by endorsing the TOP guidelines or enabling STAR methodologies. Finally, we’re adapting our systems and practices to the complex, ever-changing needs of authors.

In a related side-note, we’re aware of the importance of ensuring research outputs are discoverable. To that end, we’ve been working on labelling and filtering options for OA content on ScienceDirect and exploring partnerships for example with Impactstory whereby we have tagged more than 7 million articles as OA in Scopus after matching information to their Unpaywall database.

Everyone likes to share

We know there is a lot of confusion around the question of sharing, particularly given the different versions of an article and the multiplicity of platforms. It's clear how publishing gold OA makes sharing easy, of course – you can share your final published article immediately, as the cost of publishing has been recovered upfront through an APC. But green OA is also a free sharing option available for authors publishing with us under the subscription model. When dealing with questions about sharing, the best resource for you as an Editor (and your authors) is the sharing and promoting page on our website and don’t forget nifty options like ShareLinks.

We love data!

As well as sharing, the research community has shown us the importance of open data and we have therefore worked to enable researchers to store, share, discover and reuse data accordingly. For example, we have:

  • 55,000 users each month utilising open data tools, which include Mendeley Data and Hivebench.
  • 1.6 million links from published articles to datasets stored in 65 external data repositories.
  • 8.2 million datasets from over 30 repositories indexed and findable on Mendeley Data.
  • Helped researchers to digitise their data on Hivebench with 10,000 complete electronic notebooks created with 25,000 experiments recorded.

Promoting ethical, responsible and diverse scholarship

It’s important to understand that open science is not an end state, however: it’s more a way of working. For instance, you’re probably well aware of the importance of safeguarding research integrity, but there is a growing realization that we also need to consider the aspects of diversity and bias in our activities. Again this is a theme that we’ve been aware of for some time and we’ve been developing resources and tools to promote better ways of working in this regard.

We hope that the above has been useful in exploring the complex field of open science and the various initiatives it has prompted. Read more about open access issues in our related article and check out the OA Q&A for advice on specific topics.


Written by

Christopher Tancock

Written by

Christopher Tancock

Christopher Tancock is Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier's Editors', Authors' and Reviewers' Updates and works on related communications projects. Based in Oxford, Chris has degrees in European studies and linguistics and  is founder of Pint of Life, a new initiative which delivers free life-saving skills into the local community.


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