Re: Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving

From: David Goodman <>
Date: Fri, 28 May 2004 17:59:35 -0400

I do not think any scientist would consider Elsevier's policy a fully
satisfactory permanent arrangement, and all would prefer that the edited
version from the publisher could be posted.

But it is not unreasonable to accept partial solutions for the time
being, on the realistic principle that it is better to get the material
disseminated in some fashion. This move does provide for the access to
the material in some form, especially considering that articles in some
fields are only lightly edited, and that some author may consider the
preprint version close enough--or conceivably superior--to the changes
imposed by the editor and peer-reviewer.

The move to open access journals also has less-than-satisfactory temporary
arrangements. Among such partial solutions are journals where all but
the last few months are openly available, or the widely-acclaimed PNAS
policy of letting the author pay extra for open access.

I can understand the excitement felt when Elsevier liberalizes its
policy. Considering the size of the publisher and the amount of material
affected, there has been a tendency to accept all its progressive moves,
however small intrinsically, as major progress.

Elsevier's policy is a perfectly reasonable competitive move to encourage
authors to use its journals rather than those of other commercial
publishers, some of which do not yet allow postprints. It may also
have the effect of encouraging them to use Elsevier rather than society
journals (many of which do not allow posting at all), hoping to balance
the right to self-archive against the narrow distribution of some of
Elsevier's weaker titles.

I have been informed that Cell Press, arguably the portion of Elsevier
that has the strongest titles, does not have the same policy to pre-
and post-prints as the other Elsevier Science titles. I have not yet
been able to determine exactly how it differs.

It may, indeed be the case that in order to achieve the widest
dissemination we may have to be content with policies such as this
for a time. It may even be the case that the scientific world decides
to ignore the need for anything more than the basic presentation of
ideas, and accepts a self-prepared report as full publication. There are
applied fields where this has long been the case, and where semi-edited
and semi-peer-reviewed conference proceedings or technical reports form
the important literature.

Dr. David Goodman
Associate Professor
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University

(and, formerly: Princeton University Library)
Received on Fri May 28 2004 - 22:59:35 BST

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