So, What is Universal Access?

Building a world where everyone has access to high-quality scientific content

Elsevier made a commitment in 2008 towards a new and exciting approach for our publishing business: to work actively to realize our vision of universal access.

The vision is simple, yet powerful, and this is to build a world where everyone has access to high-quality scientific content.  We are tenacious in moving to realize this goal, and are willing to use all publication models to achieve it.  A small team has been set up at the heart of the business with a remit to work with stakeholders in the community and all parts of Elsevier.

The remit of the universal access team is very wide and encompasses many different approaches including – and keep in mind this was an especially new departure for Elsevier in 2008 – open access publishing. We’ve been quietly working behind the scenes over the last few years to push all of these initiatives forward, but some have only become visible relatively recently.

What we can offer

There has been a concern that Elsevier uses the term 'universal access' instead of 'open access' because we are uncomfortable with the latter.  This is not the case.  Rather, we see open access publishing as one of a number of initiatives under the broader umbrella of initiatives we are using to drive forward our vision for universal access.  These initiatives include:

Extending access to the content we publish for people with disabilities and for patients, for example the patientINFORM program.

Access for researchers in the developing world: Providing free or low-cost access to the content we publish in the poorest countries. Elsevier was a founding participant in the Research4Life program.

Open access journals:
Journals in which authors pay an article processing fee to have their articles published and made freely available.

Open archives:
Journals that make content available to non-subscribers after a time delay.

Licensing models:
The high degree of satisfaction with electronic journal access is a result of widespread licensing from Elsevier and other STM publishers, for example, Elsevier’s freedom collection and subject collections in SciVerse ScienceDirect.

Manuscript posting:
Authors that publish with Elsevier can voluntarily post their preprints or accepted author manuscripts to personal websites and repositories.

Open access article options: In the majority of our established subscription titles, we offer authors an option to sponsor access for non-subscribers.

Flexible article purchase and rental options: Elsevier also offers several options to purchase both single articles and groups of articles, as well as rental options (through DeepDyve) and document delivery.

This is just a fraction of what our universal access program provides. We will continue to develop new solutions which continue to maximize access to research content.

Visit for more details.

Author Biography

David TempestDavid Tempest
David’s role focuses on the development of a wide range of strategies and implementation of access initiatives and he is a key contact between Elsevier and funding organizations, universities and research institutions. He has worked at Elsevier for more than 15 years, including periods in both editorial and marketing positions, and spent the majority of his career managing the scientometric research and market analysis department within the company. David speaks frequently at various global events about the development of new universal access initiatives and technologies, as well as publishing matters in general. He has a BSc in pharmacology from the University of Sunderland and an MBA with distinction from Oxford Brookes University.

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