Free and low-cost access to scientific research

Elsevier’s initiatives make research available to researchers, patients, journalists and the public

Elsevier has a world of interesting and relevant content to offer: findings from Nobel Prize winners , headline-hittersand world-changing discoveries can all be found on our platforms. As a publishing company, it’s important for us to help as many people as possible read these articles and books. Most people access our content via their subscribed institutional accounts, but we also offer a wide variety of options for people without institutional access to read research papers through our free and low-cost programs.

While there are thousands of articles available via open access publishing, where an author or funder pays a publishing fee, here I want to focus on free access – where we simply make a subscription article free to read for wide variety of promotional or socially-responsible reasons, or grant access to ScienceDirect for certain groups of users. We often feature these programs on Elsevier Connect in the Free Access category and we thought it would be helpful to bring them together here.

Have a look at the programs below to find out how you can access research at low or no cost. (More are sure to come, so we look forward to updating this summary soon. In the meantime, you can stay up-to-date with our accessing content page.)

  • Share Link: Authors who publish with Elsevier receive a link to their published article that provides 50 days’ free access, which they can share with their networks.
  • Postdoc Free Access Program. We provide free access to scientific content to support young scholars in between jobs or looking for their first postdoctoral position.
  • Featured articles and special issues: We regularly promote articles and issues to researchers through promotional campaigns that include free access for a limited period.
  • Open data: Authors can upload their raw research data as a supplementary file, which is then published open access – free of charge – next to their article on ScienceDirect.
  • New journals: when we launch a new journal, it is often made free access until it is established.
  • AudioSlides: Authors can create webcast-style presentations that allow them to present their research in their own words. These are published free of charge next to their articles on ScienceDirect.
  • Elsevier Connect: we make most research articles we cover freely available for at least 90 days, so readers can access the original research.
  • Journalists: We provide credentialed science journalists around the world — currently more than 1,500 — with unrestricted media access, helping them interpret and report on scientific findings for the public.
  • Nobel Prize Winners and topical issues: We share collections of articles on topical issues like hepatitis for World Hepatitis Day, and Nobel Prize winners’ work, with free access to the research. We’ll do this for sponsored programs as well, such as the Golden Goose Awards.
  • UK public libraries: Anyone can access ScienceDirect through walk-in user access at any participating public library in the UK via the Access to Research program.
  • Public access via university libraries – Our standard license gives libraries around the world the option to allow free walk in access.
  • Wikipedia editors: We provide free access to qualified Wikipedia editors, helping them improve the site’s content and accuracy.
  • Research4Life: As a founding partner, Elsevier contributes over a quarter of the nearly 50,000 free and low cost peer reviewed resources in Research4Life, encompassing ScienceDirect and Scopus, including over 3,100 Elsevier journals and 13,000 books. In 2014, there were over 3.9 m Research4Life article downloads from Elsevier’s ScienceDirect. We also provide extensive in-kind expertise and financial resources to advance usage, outreach and training and have commited to the program through 2020.
  • Library of Alexandria: Elsevier partners with the Library of Alexandria in Egypt to provide access to ScienceDirect and Scopus to individual researchers in the least developed and low-income countries.
  • International Centre Theoretical Physics (ICTP) eJournals Delivery Service: A free technical solution for scientists working in developing countries on physics, mathematics and computer science who cannot digitally connect to content.
  • TEEAL: We participate in The Essential Electronic Agriculture Library, a digital collection of research journals for agriculture and related sciences.
  • Outbreak Collections: We provide free access to articles that can help doctors and epidemiologists during an epidemic, for example research on Ebola, the Fukushima disaster and the Haiti earthquake. We also participate in the NIH/NLM Emergency Access Initiative to make our health and medical titles available during global health, disaster or emergency events.
  • PatientInform: We provide patients with low-cost access to medical research published in 100 healthcare journals along with patient-friendly summaries produced by the world’s most trusted health organizations.
  • Patient Access: Patients or their caregivers can register and receive research papers via email for a small handling fee.
  • CHORUS – We’ll open manuscripts for 4,000 research articles flowing from US Department of Energy research funding each year (with additional funding body partners to be announced).

That’s 20 programs, and more are forthcoming. We’re interested in making as much content available as we can without compromising the commercial model that underpins scientific publishing today. That model is responsible for innovations that enhance the quality of the articles, make it easier to find the research you need, and help make use of the articles and the data behind them. While we can’t make all content free, we’re proud of the programs described here that make as much research as possible available, especially to the people who need it most.

Elsevier Connect Contributor

Tom  RellerAs VP and Head of Global Corporate Relations at Elsevier, Tom Reller (@TomReller) leads a global team of  media, social and web communicators for the world's largest provider of scientific,  technical and medical (STM) information products and services. Together, they work to build on Elsevier's reputation by promoting the company's numerous contributions to the health and science communities, many of which are brought to life in this online community  and information resource: Elsevier Connect.

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