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

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2004 04:40:23 +0100

    "Reed allows academics free web access"
    Article in the Guardian by Richard Wray, Thursday June 3 2004,9865,1230219,00.html

This article is ok but it contains a number of errors:

> Until now the world's largest academic publisher has been a staunch
> opponent of open access, saying it poses a threat to the quality of
> academic research.

Incorrect. Elsevier has been an opponent of OA publishing, but not
necessarily of OA; and it was because they didn't want to risk losing
revenue that they claimed OA publishing would endanger research quality.

> But it is now letting academics put a text version of their
> accepted articles on to their own websites, or sites operated by their
> institutions.

Not "text," but *full-text* (and not necessarily just a text-file!).

> Karen Hunter, Elsevier senior vice-president, strategy, explained:
> "There was a desire in the market from many authors and many institutions
> to have an official record of their institution's intellectual output. We
> have listened and we have responded."

It's not for a "record"! It's for usage and impact. (Book output is part of an
institution's intellectual output, but no one is proposing that all books be made
OA: just peer-reviewed journal articles, in order to maximize their usage and

> Deborah Cockerill, assistant publisher at rival open access publisher
> BioMed Central, said Reed's move "merely scratches the surface of the
> fundamental problem with the traditional publishing model which is based
> on controlling access".

OA is not about a problem with the traditional publishing model but about a
problem with needlessly lost impact. OA remedies the latter, not the former.

> Reed, which has spent millions of pounds developing an online database
> of its journals known as Science Direct, is allowing authors to post
> only a text version of their published articles on the internet.

Incorrect. Not "text-only" but whatever version the author likes, as
long as it is not Elsevier's own PDF or HTML. Fair enough (and there's
no need for the publisher's PDF or HTML in order to provide 100% OA).

> In addition each posting must include a link to the journal's home
> page - which operates almost as free advertising.

That link would be advisable scholarly practise even if it were not
required by Elsevier. And every citation of a paper is free advertising
for the journal it appeared in. So what?

> Crucially, academics will not be allowed to put links to their papers
> in central academic databases, making it very difficult for anyone else
> to find the paper.

Incorrect. They may not *deposit* the full-text in a 3rd party website
(because that could be a rival publisher), only on the website of the author or
the author's institution. But that is also all that is needed for OA, and for
anyone on the web to be able to search for and find the paper (e.g. via OAIster
or google).

And of course authors may put a *link* wherever they wish! And any harvester can
harvest the metadata (authorname, title, journalname, date, etc.) too.

> "This kind of archiving is in many ways useless to the majority of
> scientists, mainly because no one will know the copies exist at all or
> where to find them"

Incorrect. This kind of archiving provides exactly what scientists need, namely
OA, and the papers will be at least as visible as anything else on the web (via
google) and even moreso (via OAI harvesters and search engines such as OAIster).

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
        Post discussion to:
        Hypermail Archive:

Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Thu Jun 03 2004 - 04:40:23 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:47:29 GMT