Universities Yelp as Elsevier Pulls Back on Free Access

“The publisher, Elsevier, has told universities that have built their own online repositories of journal articles written by their researchers that they now must respect waiting periods typically lasting a year or two before allowing free access to Elsevier-owned content.

Elsevier is describing the policy shift as merely a reiteration of what it always has required. “We are now communicating our embargoes more clearly,” Alicia Wise, the publishing company’s director of access and policy, said on Thursday.
But representatives of universities and their researchers are crying foul, saying Elsevier is reneging now that a movement to create university repositories — web-based storehouses of articles — is rapidly gaining momentum….”

Announcing the first subscription journal to flip to open access through the Open Library of Humanities | Open Library of Humanities

“The Open Library of Humanities is extremely pleased to announce that the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry will be the first subscription journal to move to the completely open-access model offered by the OLH. The journal, previously published by Gylphi, centres on the poetic writings that have appeared in Britain and Ireland since the late 1950s under various categorizations, for example: avant-garde, underground, linguistically innovative, second-wave Modernist, non-mainstream, the British Poetry Revival, the parallel tradition, formally innovative, neo-modernist and experimental, while also including the Cambridge School, the London School, concrete poetry, and performance writing.

The Open Library of Humanities is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded gold open-access publication platform. Unlike many gold open-access publishers, however, the OLH has no author-facing charges and is instead funded by an international consortium of libraries through the Library Partnership Subsidies model. The platform is open to existing journals who wish to move to a sustainable gold open-access publication mode. This includes journals currently operating on article processing charges, on an unsustainable volunteerist basis, and subscription publications….”

Publishers’ Unnecessary Services

Mike Eisen writes:

?I believe we should get rid of publishers? the services they provide are either easy to replicate (formatting articles to look pretty) or they currently do extremely poorly (peer review)? these services are unnecessary? [we should] move to a system where you post things when you want to post them, and that people comment/rate/annotate articles as they read them post publication.?

1. PLOS (like other publishers) seems to be charging a hefty price for ?services that are unnecessary.? ;>)

2. I agree completely that we should get rid of publishers’ unnecessary services and their costs. But how to do that, while they are still controlled by publishers and bundled into subscriptions in exchange for access?

My answer is the one Mike calls ?parasitic?: Institutions and funders worldwide mandate Green OA (with the ?copy-request? Button to circumvent publisher OA embargoes). The cancellations that that will make possible will force publishers to drop the unnecessary services and their costs and downsize to Fair-Gold for peer review alone..

3. But I disagree with Mike about peer-review: it will remain the sole essential service. And the (oft-voiced) notion that peer-review can be replaced by crowd-sourcing, after ?publication? is pure speculation, supported by no evidence that it can ensure quality at least as well as classical peer review, nor that is it scalable and sustainable.

Associate Managing Editor – Open Access

“As an Associate Managing Editor-Open Access, you will be the leader of an Open Access-focused team within Wiley’s Peer Review Management (PRM) team, and will have 2-3 direct reports. The ideal candidate will be detail-oriented and have interest in product development. The successful candidate will play a crucial role in guiding the development of the operation of Wiley’s growing Open Access program through driving workflow efficiency….”

Can monies spent globally on journal subscriptions be completely transitioned to an OA business model to free the journals? | SciELO in Perspective

“Could we take all the funds spent globally on scientific journal subscriptions by academic libraries, research centers and others, and transition them, or re-purpose them to pay for publishing those same journals and articles in open access? This would achieve a dream of the Open Access movement, and for society as a whole. Access to all published knowledge resulting from scientific research would no longer be restricted, anywhere in the world, by any form of barrier such as a paywall! The public good would be upheld. With no additional investments.

A recent and very interesting study1 by the Max Plank Digital Library, published as a White Paper on Open Access Policy, looks at precisely this scenario. It quantifies, for what appears to be the first time ever, if such a dream is possible and concludes that it is indeed! …”

Open Access: A Collective Ecology for AAA Publishing in the Digital Age — Cultural Anthropology

“Just over a year ago Cultural Anthropology went Open Access. It has been an exhilarating experience, which has seen the journal engage new publics and conversations, as well as explore new intellectual and editorial possibilities. For those involved in the running of the journal, it has also demanded a steep learning curve. We, the Board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology, thought it would be a good idea to put down in writing some of these lessons whilst responding to a recent memorandum (5/4/15) to Section Presidents, Journal Editors, and Section Treasurers that recapitulates the AAA’s history of scholarly publishing. As we write, Michael Chibnik (AA’s Editor-in-Chief) has published an editorial expressing his hesitation towards an OA solution for American Anthropologist.1 We take this opportunity to reply to Chibnik’s text too….”

The Inevitable Success of Transitional Green Open Access

This is a response to:

Michael Eisen (2015) The inevitable failure of parasitic green open access (blogged May 25, 2015 in it is NOT junk)

I will respond to Mike [M.E.] paragraph by paragraph. Here are my first observations:

I think it is subscription journal publishing that is parasitic on the work of researchers, peer-reviewers and their institutions, as well as on the money of the tax-payers who fund the research — not the other way round.

Green Open Access mandates are the remedy, not the malady.

Gold Open Access is premature until Green OA has been mandated and provided universally, so that it can first make subscriptions cancellable (as publishers anticipate — and that’s the real motivation for their Green OA embargoes).

The reason pre-Green Gold OA is premature is that while access-blocking journal subscriptions still prevail the contents of those journals are accessible only to subscribing institutions, so those subscriptions cannot be cancelled until and unless there is an alternative means of access.

Immediate-Deposit Green OA mandates provide that alternative means of access (and they do so even if the deposited papers are under a publisher OA embargo, thanks to the institutional repositories’ copy-request Button, which can provide “Almost-OA” individually with one click from the requestor and one click from the author).

Until subscriptions are cancelled, Gold OA fees have to be paid over and above all existing subscription fees. Hence they are double payments, unaffordable alongside subscriptions.

Pre-Green Gold OA fees are also arbitrarily over-priced: Post-Green, all that will need to be paid for is the editorial management of peer review (picking referees, adjudicating reports and revisions). The rest (archiving, access-provision) will be provided by the worldwide network of Green OA repositories.

Nor is it possible for publishers to prevent Green OA by trying to embargo it. In the virtual world, research-sharing is optimal and inevitable for research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, and the tax-paying public that finances their research) — and it is also unstoppable, if authors wish to provide it.

M.E.: At the now famous 2001 meeting that led to the Budapest Open Access Initiative [BOAI] ? the first time the many different groups pushing to make scholarly literature freely available assembled ? a serious rift emerged that almost shattered the open access movement in its infancy.

Green Open Access self-archiving (before it even got that name) had already been going on for at least two decades in 2001. There had also been free and subsidized online journals for over a decade. (The names “OA,” “Green” and “Gold” came later.)

I would say that the BOAI in 2001 accelerated the OA movement, rather than “almost shattered” it. It also supplied the name for it (“OA”).

M.E.: On one side were people like me (representing the nascent Public Library of Science) and Jan Velterop (BioMed Central) advocating for ?gold? open access, in which publishers are paid up-front to make articles freely available. On the other side was Stevan Harnad, a staunch advocate for ?green? open access, in which authors publish their work in subscription journals, but make them freely available through institutional or field specific repositories.

And BOAI opted to endorse both roads to OA — originally dubbed BOAI-I and BOAI-II, then later renamed Green and Gold OA, respectively.

M.E.: On the surface of it, it?s not clear why these two paths to OA should be in opposition. Indeed, as a great believer in anything that would both make works freely available, I had always liked the idea of authors who had published in subscription journals making their works available, in the process annoying subscription publishers (always a good thing) and hastening the demise of their outdated business model. I agreed with Stevan?s entreaty that creating a new business model was hard, but posting articles online was easy.

There is complete agreement on the fact that there are two means of providing OA and both will be important.

But what is hard is not just creating the Gold OA business model but making it affordable and scalable. The problem is current institutional subscription access needs. Until access to each institution’s current must-have journals is available by some means other than paid-access (usually subscriptions), Gold OA means double payment: for incoming access via subscription fees and for outgoing publication via Gold OA fees. And double-payment at arbitrarily inflated Gold OA fees, in which many obsolete products and services are still co-bundled, notably, archiving, access-provision, and often also the print edition.

Universally mandated Green OA provides this other means of access, which will in turn make subscriptions cancellable, forcing publishers to cut the obsolete products and services and their costs, downsize to the peer-review service alone, offload archiving and access provision to the global network of Green OA repositories, and convert to affordable, scalable and sustainable post-Green Fair-Gold OA.

The SCOAP3 consortial “flip” model — flipping individual institutional subscriptions to consortial institutional Gold OA “memberships” — is unstable, unscalable and unsustainable. Not only can all the planet’s ~c30K peer-reviewed journals and ~10K institutions not be consortially “flipped” all at once, but consortial memberships are evolutionarily unstable strategies, being open to institutional defection at any time, especially from institutions that publish little in a given journal, thereby raising the “membership” fee for the remaining institutions. The problem is not solved by flipping instead to individual paper-based fees either, because that faces the double-payment problem. And both models still have arbitrarily inflated prices until there is a means to jettison the obsolete print edition and offload the publisher cost of access-provision and archiving elsewhere.

M.E.: But at the Budapest meeting I learned several interesting things. First, Harnad and other supporters of green OA did not appear to view it as a disruptive force ? rather they envisioned a kind of stable alliance between subscription publishers and institutional repositories whereby authors sent papers to whatever journal they wanted to and turned around and made them freely available. And second, big publishers like Elsevier were supportive of green OA.

I’m afraid Mike is recalling wrongly here. I have been predicting and advocating a transition from toll-access subscription publishing to (what eventually came to be called) Fair-Gold OA publishing from the very outset (1994). But this was always predicated on a viable, realistic transition scenario to get us from here to there. This always entailed an intermediate phase in which Green OA self-archiving would grow in parallel alongside subscription publishing, rather than an unrealistic attempt to make a direct transition (“flip”) to Gold: Green OA needed to become universal (or near-universal) before there could be a viable transition to Gold.

Mike also misinterprets the references to “peaceful co-existence” between Green OA self-archiving and subscription publishing. No one can predict the future with certainty, and it is certainly true that there is no evidence yet of Green OA’s causing subscription cancellations, even in fields where it has already attained 100% Green OA for more than two decades. But I never denied my own belief that once all research in all fields had reached or neared 100% Green, subscriptions would become unsustainable and journals would have to downsize and convert to Fair-Gold OA.

Not only was this “disruptive scenario,” already implicit in my “Subversive Proposal” of 1994, as well as in my very first posting in August 1998 to the AmSci September Forum (which eventually became the the Amsci OA Forum and then the Global OA Forum (GOAL)), but I made it completely explicit in the 2000 draft of “For Whom the Gate Tolls” in sections 4.1 and 4.2:

“Eight steps will be described here. The first four are not hypothetical in any way; they are guaranteed to free the entire refereed research literature? from its access/impact-barriers right away. The only thing that researchers and their institutions need to do is to take these first four steps. The second four steps are hypothetical predictions, but nothing hinges on them: The refereed literature will already be free for everyone as a result of steps i-iv, irrespective of the outcome of predictions v-viii.

i. Universities install and register OAI-compliant Eprint Archives?
ii. Authors self-archive their pre-refereeing preprints and post-refereeing postprints in their own university’s Eprint Archives?
iii. Universities subsidize a first start-up wave of self-archiving by proxy where needed?
iv. The Give-Away corpus is freed from all access/impact barriers on-line?

“…However, it is likely that there will be some changes as a consequence of the freeing of the literature by author/institution self-archiving. This is what those changes might be:

v. Users will prefer the free version??
vi. Publisher toll revenues shrink, Library toll savings grow??
vii. Publishers downsize to providers of peer-review service + optional add-ons products??
viii. peer-review service costs funded by author-institution out of reader-institution toll savings?…

“If publishers can continue to cover costs and make a decent profit from the toll-based optional add-ons market, without needing to down-size to peer-review provision alone, nothing much changes.

“But if publishers do need to abandon providing the toll-based products and to scale down instead to providing only the peer-review service, then universities, having saved 100% of their annual access-toll budgets, will have plenty of annual windfall savings from which to pay for their own researchers’ continuing (and essential) annual journal-submission peer-review costs (10-30%); the rest of their savings (70-90%) they can spend as they like (e.g., on books — plus a bit for Eprint Archive maintenance).”

This original transition scenario has since been further elaborated many times, starting from before BOAI in Nature in 2001, with updates to keep pace with OA developments (repositories, mandates, embargoes) in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

M.E.: At first this seemed inexplicable to me ? why would publishers not only allow but encourage authors to post paywalled content on their institutional repositories? But it didn?t take long to see the logic. Subscription publishers correctly saw the push for better access to published papers as a challenge to their dominance of the industry, and sought ways to diffuse this pressure. With few functioning institutional repositories in existence, and only a small handful of authors interested in posting to them, green OA was not any kind of threat. But it seemed equally clear that, should green OA ever actually become a threat to subscription publishers, their support would be sure to evaporate.

I continue to laud those subscription publishers who do not embargo Green OA as being on the “side of the angels,” to encourage them. (And they are indeed on the side of the angels: Green OA mandates would be much more widely adopted and effective if it weren’t for the nuisance tactic of publishers embargoing Green OA. But the Button is the antidote, facilitating “Almost OA,” which will nevertheless be enough to carry the transition scenario to 100% Green OA and its sequel; it will just take a little longer.)

And if and when they go over to the dark side (as Elsevier has now done), I immediately name-and-shame them for it.

As it happens, I think Elsevier’s reneging too late: Not only will it be extremely costly to them in terms of PR. But they can no longer force the genie back into the bottle…

So it was worth trying to keep them angel-side all these years.

M.E.: Unfortunately, Harnad didn?t see it this way. He felt that publishers like Elsevier were ?on the side of the angels?, and he reserved his criticism for PLOS and BMC as purveyors of ?fools gold? who were delaying open access by seeking to build a new business model and get authors to change their publishing practices instead of encouraging them to take the easy path of publishing wherever they want and making works freely available in institutional repositories.

The ones who were the fools were not the purveyors of the fool’s gold, but those who bought it (and, worse, those who tried to mandate that they buy it).

And the reasons it’s fool’s gold are three: it is not only (1) arbitrarily overpriced, but, being pre-Green — meaning subscriptions cannot yet be cancelled because the Green version is not yet available — it is also (2) double-paid (incoming subscription journal fees plus outgoing Gold journal fees) and, to boot, it is (3) unnecessary for OA, since Green OA can be provided for free.

Yes, subscription publishers that do not embargo Green are facilitating the transition to Green OA and eventually to post-Green Fair-Gold; unfortunately, pre-Green Fool’s-Gold is not.

(The only reason to publish in any journal, whether subscription or Gold, is the quality of the journal, not in order to provide OA.)

M.E.: At several points the discussions got very testy but we managed to come to make a kind of peace, agreeing to advocate and pursue both paths. PLOS, BMC and now many others have created successful businesses based on APCs that are growing and making an increasing fraction of the newly published literature immediately freely available. Meanwhile, the green OA path has thrived as well, with policies from governments and universities across the world focusing on making works published in subscription journals freely available.


M.E.: But the fundamental logical flaw with green OA never went away. It should always have been clear that the second Elsevier saw green OA as an actual threat, they would no longer side with the angels. And that day has come. With little fanfare, Elsevier recently updated their green OA policies. Where they once encouraged authors to make their works immediately freely available in institutional repositories, they now require an embargo before these works are made available in an institutional repository.

There was no fanfare but there’s plenty of spin, to make it seem that withdrawing an agreed author right was being done for positive reasons (research sharing) rather than negative ones (insurance policy for Elsevier’s current income levels). And this is because there was an (accurately) perceived need for a justification. It would have been much easier to sell embargoes to the Elsevier author community if self-archiving had never been allowed. So I’d say that Elsevier’s 8-10 years on the side of the angels has served OA well.

Nor is it over. Elsevier and its legal staff have rightly sensed that finding rules that have their intended effect and are accepted by the author community is not so easy to do.

In fact I am quite confident that it is impossible. The virtual genie is out of the bottle and there is no way to get it back in. Stay tuned.

M.E.: This should surprise nobody. It?s a testament to Stevan and everyone else who have made institutional repositories a growing source of open access articles. But given their success, it would be completely irrational of Elsevier to continue allowing their works to appear in these IRs at the time of publication. With every growing threats to library budgets, it was only a matter of time before universities used the available of Elsevier works in IRs as a reason to cut subscriptions, or at least negotiate better deals for access. And that is something Elsevier could not allow.

I think Mike is completely mistaken on this. It was exactly the other way around. The global immediate-Green-OA level for any journal today is still under 30% — probably a lot under, since no one has accurate timing data — which is certainly no basis for cancelling a journal. Green OA mandates are not yet having any effect on institutional subscriptions, but, because Elsevier began to worry that they eventually might, they first tried, in their pricing deals, to persuade institutions that in exchange for a better price deal they should agree not to mandate Green OA. That failed, so they next tried to embargo only mandatory Green OA. That failed too — and was rightly seen as so arbitrary and ad hoc that they have now tried to make their embargoes “fair” by embargoing everything — but they still had to have a sugar coating, and that was “sharing.”

Trouble is that it is precisely sharing at which the virtual medium and its software is the most adept and powerful. And Elsevier is about to discover that there is no way to contain it with arbitrary words that have no actual meaning in the virtual medium.

M.E.: Of course this just proves that, despite pretending for a decade that they supported the rights of authors to share their works, they never actually meant it. There is simply no way to run a subscription publishing business where everything you publish is freely available.

I agree completely that Elsevier went angel-side just for reasons of image: The OA clamor was growing, alongside all the anti-Elsevier sentiment, and they saw allowing immediate Green OA self-archiving as no risk but a PR asset. And it was.

But this also gave Green OA a chance to grow, via Green OA mandates, which Elsevier had not anticipated in 2004 (though they were already beginning).

So now Elsevier is using “fairness” and “sharing” as their PR ploys for camouflaging the fact that the purpose of the embargoes is purely self-interested (insuring current Elsevier revenue streams).

Well, first, the public is not currently too sympathetic about Elsevier revenue streams (which they hardly see as “fair”).

But, more important, now it will be the online medium’s Protean resources for sharing that will be Elsevier’s embargoes’ undoing.

M.E.: I hope IRs will continue to grow and thrive. Stevan and other green OA advocates have always been right that the fastest ? and in many ways best ? way for authors to provide open access is simply to put their papers online. But we can longer pretend that such a model can coexist with subscription publishing. The only long-term way to support green OA and institutional repositories is not to benignly parasitize subscription journals ? it is to kill them.

But there is no need at all (nor is there a means) to “kill” established, high quality journals of long standing that researchers want to use and publish in: What there is is a means to induce them to adapt to the OA era — by mandating Green OA and allowing that to force nature to take its evolutionary course to the optimal and inevitable (via the transition scenario I’ve now several times described here): First 100% Green Gratis OA, then cancellations, then obsolete-cost-cutting and conversion to affordable, scalable, sustainable Fair-Gold.

No point waiting around instead for some unspecified assassin to kill off perfectly viable journals, needlessly…

Stevan Harnad

In Defence of Elsevier

I beg the OA community to remain reasonable and realistic.

Please don’t demand that Elsevier agree to immediate CC-BY. If Elsevier did that, I could immediately start up a rival free-riding publishing operation and sell all Elsevier articles immediately at cut rate, for any purpose at all that I could get people to pay for. Elsevier could no longer make a penny from selling the content it invested in.

CC-BY-NC-ND is enough for now. It allows immediate harvesting for data-mining.

The OA movement must stop shooting itself in the foot by over-reaching, insisting on having it all, immediately, thus instead ending up with next to nothing, as in the past.

As I pointed out in a previous posting, the fact that Elsevier requires all authors to adopt the CC-BY-NC-ND license is a positive step. Please don’t force them to back-pedal!

Please read the terms, and reflect.


Accepted Manuscript 

Authors can share their accepted manuscript:


◦ via their non-commercial personal homepage or blog.
◦ by updating a preprint in arXiv or RePEc with the accepted manuscript. 
◦ via their research institute or institutional repository for internal institutional uses or as part of an invitation-only research collaboration work-group.
◦ directly by providing copies to their students or to research collaborators for their personal use.
◦ for private scholarly sharing as part of an invitation-only work group on commercial sites with which Elsevier has an agreement.

After the embargo period 

◦ via non-commercial hosting platforms such as their institutional repository.
◦ via commercial sites with which Elsevier has an agreement.

In all cases accepted manuscripts should:

◦ Link to the formal publication via its DOI.
◦ Bear a CC-BY-NC-ND license ? this is easy to do, click here to find out how. 
◦ If aggregated with other manuscripts, for example in a repository or other site, be shared in alignment with our hosting policy.
◦ Not be added to or enhanced in any way to appear more like, or to substitute for, the published journal article.

How to attach a user license

Elsevier requires authors posting their accepted manuscript to attach a non-commercial Creative Commons user license (CC-BY-NC-ND).  This is easy to do. On your accepted manuscript add the following to the title page, copyright information page, or header /footer: © YEAR, NAME. Licensed under the Creative Commons [insert license details and URL].

For example: © 2015, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ 

You can also include the license badges available from the Creative Commons website to provide visual recognition. If you are hosting your manuscript as a webpage you will also find the correct HTML code to add to your page

On Wed, May 27, 2015 at 12:37 PM, Kathleen Shearer wrote in GOAL:

In its recently released ?Sharing and Hosting Policy FAQ?, Elsevier ?recognize(s) that authors want to share and promote their work and increasingly need to comply with their funding body and institution’s open access policies.? However there are several aspects of their new policy that severely limit sharing and open access, in particular the lengthy embargo periods imposed in most journals- with about 90% of Elsevier journals having embargo periods of 12 months or greater. This is a significant rollback from the original 2004 Elsevier policy which required no embargos for making author?s accepted manuscripts available; and even with the 2012 policy change requiring embargoes only when authors were subject to an OA mandate.

With article processing charges (APCs) that can cost as much as $5000 US dollars for publishing in one of Elsevier?s gold open access titles or hybrid journals, this is not a viable option for many researchers around the world. Furthermore, the rationale for lengthy embargo periods is to protect Elsevier?s subscription revenue. We do not believe that scientific, economic and social progress should be hindered in order to protect commercial interests. In addition, there is currently no evidence that articles made available through OA repositories will lead to cancellations. 

Elsevier?s new policy also requires that accepted manuscripts posted in open access repositories bear a CC-BY-NC-ND license. This type of license severely limits the re-use potential of publicly funded research. ND restricts the use of derivatives, yet derivative use is fundamental to the way in which scholarly research builds on previous findings, for example by re-using a part of an article (with attribution) in educational material. Similarly, this license restricts commercial re-use greatly inhibiting the potential impact of the results of research.

Elsevier?s Director of Access & Policy, Alicia Wise states that they ?have received neutral-to-positive responses from research institutions and the wider research community.? Yet, since the ?Statement against Elsevier?s sharing policy? was published just one week ago (on Wednesday May 20, 2015), it has been signed by close to 700 organizations and individuals, demonstrating that there is significant opposition to the policy.

Elsevier has indicated that they ?are always happy to have a dialogue to discuss these, or any other, issues further.?  We would like to offer the following concrete recommendations to Elsevier to improve their policy:

1 Elsevier should allow all authors to make their ?author?s accepted manuscript? openly available immediately upon acceptance through an OA repository or other open access platform.
2 Elsevier should allow authors to choose the type of open license (from CC-BY to other more restrictive licenses like the CC-BY-NC-ND) they want to attach to the content that they are depositing into an open access platform.
3 Elsevier should not attempt to dictate author?s practices around individual sharing of articles. Individual sharing of journal articles is already a scholarly norm and is protected by fair use and other copyright exceptions. Elsevier cannot, and should not, dictate practices around individual sharing of articles.

We strongly encourage Elsevier to revise their policy in order to better align with the interests of the research community. We would also be pleased to meet to discuss these recommendations with Elsevier at any time.

Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director, COAR
Heather Joseph, Executive Director, SPARC

Anticipation and Antidotes for Publisher Back-Pedalling on Green OA

On Tue, May 26, 2015 at 1:08 AM, Michael Eisen posted to the Global Open Access List (GOAL):

Stevan. I hate to say I told you so, but …. at the Budapest meeting years ago it was pointed out repeatedly that once green OA actually became a threat to publishers, they would no longer look so kindly on it. It took a while, but the inevitable has now happened. Green OA that relied on publishers to peer review papers + subscriptions to pay for them, but somehow also allowed them to be made freely available, was never sustainable. If you want OA you have to either fund publishers by some other means (subsidies, APCs) or wean yourself from that which they provide (journal branding). Parasitism only works so long as it is not too painful to the host. It’s a testament to a lot of hard work from green OA advocates that it has become a threat to Elsevier. But the way forward is not to get them to reverse course, but to look past them to a future that is free of subscription journals.

Also, I don’t view CC-BY-NC-ND as a victory as the NC part is there to make sure that no commercial entity – including, somewhat ironically, PLOS – can use the articles to actually do anything. So this license makes these articles definitively non open access. -Mike

Mike, I will respond more fully on your blog:

To reply briefly here:

1. The publisher back-pedalling and OA embargoes were anticipated. That?s why the copy-request Button was created to provide access during any embargo already nearly 10 years ago, long before Elsevier and Springer began back-pedalling; and why I kept posting an ongoing tally across the years of publishers that were still on the “side of the angels” or had back-pedalled.

2. Immediate-deposit mandates plus the Button, once adopted universally, will lead unstoppably to 100% OA, and almost as quickly as if there were no publisher OA embargoes. (It is also not that easy to back-pedal to embargoes after a publisher has agreed to immediate Green OA for over 10 years.)

3. For a ?way forward,? it is not enough to ?look past the present to the future?: one must provide a demonstrably viable transition scenario to get us there from here.

4. Green OA, mandated by institutions and funders, is a demonstrably viable transition scenario, and underway worldwide.

5. Offering paid-Gold OA journals as an alternative and then waiting for all authors to switch is not a viable transition sceario, for the reasons I described again in response to Éric Archambault: multiple journals, multiple subscribing institutions, ongoing institutional access needs, no coherent global ?flip? strategy, hence local double-payment (i.e., subscription fees for incoming institutional access to other institutions’ output plus Gold publication fees for providing OA to outgoing institutional published output) while funds are still stretched to the limit paying for subscriptions that remain uncancellable ? until and unless other institutions’ output is made accessible by another means (Green OA).

6. That other means is 4, above. The resulting transition scenario was presented implicitly in 1994, 1998 and 2000, and has since been described explicitly many times, starting in 2001, with updates in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015, keeping pace with ongoing mandate and embargo developments.

7. An article that is freely accessible to all online under CC-BY-NC-ND is most definitely OA ? Gratis OA, to be exact.

8. For the reasons I have likewise described many times before, the transition scenario is to mandate Gratis Green OA (together with the Button, for embargoed deposits) universally. That universal Green Gratis OA will in turn make subscriptions cancellable, hence unsustainable, which will in turn force publishers to downsize to affordable, sustainable Fair-Gold Libre OA (CC-BY), paid for out of a fraction of the institutional subscription cancellation savings. The worldwide network of mandated Green OA repositories will do the access-provision and archiving.

9. It is a bit disappointing to hear an OA advocate characterize Green OA as parasitic on publishers, when OA?s fundamental rationale has been that publishers are parasitic on researchers and referees’ work as well as its public funding. But perhaps when the OA advocate is a publisher, the motivation changes?


The move to open access and growth: experience from Journal of Hymenoptera Research

“The Journal of Hymenoptera Research (JHR) is published by the International Society of Hymenopterists. It is devoted to the study of all aspects of Hymenoptera and covers a broad range of research disciplines, including biology, morphology, behaviour, ecology, genetics, systematics and taxonomy. The journal was launched in 1992 and for most of its existence was published as two issues per annual volume. In 2011, after publication of 19 volumes, the Society decided to move from restricted to open access, with Pensoft as a publisher. This move had several important consequences for the publication and dissemination of information about Hymenoptera….”

Science Library Pad: Open Access policy – Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

“The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences released its open access policy on April 1, 2015.


The official title is ‘Open Access and the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP)’.

The policy is about facilitating and promoting open access books (monographs): [1] the Federation will embrace the roles of promoter and facilitator of Open Access publishing projects for monographs, with a particular view to engage those that could include ASPP-funded books. [2] To encourage innovation and experimentation, the Federation will use its resources and networks to facilitate the participation of Canadian publishers, libraries and authors in promising, scalable projects that provide practical (i.e. financial or in-kind) support for Open Access monograph publishing. [3] To support the ongoing efforts of some Canadian publishers, the Federation will promote existing and future ASPP-funded Open Access books.

As I understand it, it is not a mandatory policy, it’s more about doing projects to support open access, in particular projects that would: [1] Make books Open Access immediately upon publication (no embargo) as DRM-free PDFs or full- text HTML, using the final published work as the version of record; [2] Track and report on downloads and/or usage; [3] Use Creative Commons licences; [4] Host Open Access publications in at least one recognized repository that provides permanent links; [5] Follow accepted protocols for metadata.

above from full policy http://www.ideas-idees.ca/sites/default/files/oa-aspp-policy-position-en.pdf …”

Creating Knowledge

“Open Access is catalyzing reform on the business side of the scholarly-communication system. Will Open Access be enough to push universities into experimentation on the scholarly side? That is an Open question.

Elsevier: Trying to squeeze the virtual genie back into the physical bottle – Open Access Archivangelism

“…a few more of the howlers that keep making Elsevier’s unending series of arbitrary contractual bug-fixes logically incoherent (i.e., self-contradictory) and technically nonsensical, hence moot, unenforceable, and eminently ignorable for anyone who takes a few moments to think instead of cringe. Elsevier is trying to use pseudo-legal words to squeeze the virtual genie (the Web) back into the physical bottle (the old, land-based, print-on-paper world):…”

Elsevier: Trying to squeeze the virtual genie back into the physical bottle

Alicia Wise wrote:

Dear Stevan,

I admire your vision and passion for green open access ? in fact we all do here at Elsevier – and for your tenacity as your definitions and concepts of green open access have remain unchanged for more than 15 years. We also recognize that the open access landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years, for example with the emergence of Social Collaboration Networks. This refresh of our policy, the first since 2004, reflects what we are hearing from researchers and research institutions about how we can support their changing needs. We look forward to continuing input from and collaboration with the research community, and will continue to review and refine our policy.

Let me state clearly that we support both green and gold OA. Embargo periods have been used by us ? and other publishers ? for a very long time and are not new. The only thing that?s changed about IRs is our old policy said you had to have an agreement which included embargos, and the new policy is you don?t need to do an agreement provided you and your authors comply with the embargo period policy. It might be most constructive for people to just judge us based on reading through the policy and considering what we have said and are saying.

With kind wishes and good night,
Alicia Wise, Elsevier


Dear Alicia,

You wrote:

“This refresh of our policy [is| the first since 2004… Embargo periods have been used by us… for a very long time and are not new. The only thing that?s changed about IRs is our old policy said you had to have an agreement which included embargos…”

Is this the old policy that hasn’t changed since 2004 (when Elsevier was still on the “side of the angels” insofar as Green OA was concerned) until the “refresh”? (I don’t see any mention of embargoes in it…):

Date: Thu, 27 May 2004 03:09:39 +0100
From: “Hunter, Karen (ELS-US)”
To: “‘harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk'”
Cc: “Karssen, Zeger (ELS)” , “Bolman, Pieter (ELS)” , “Seeley, Mark (ELS)”
Subject: Re: Elsevier journal list


[H]ere is what we have decided on post-“prints” (i.e. published articles, whether published electronically or in print):

An author may post his version of the final paper on his personal web site and on his institution’s web site (including its institutional respository). Each posting should include the article’s citation and a link to the journal’s home page (or the article’s DOI). The author does not need our permission to do this, but any other posting (e.g. to a repository elsewhere) would require our permission. By “his version” we are referring to his Word or Tex file, not a PDF or HTML downloaded from ScienceDirect – but the author can update his version to reflect changes made during the refereeing and editing process. Elsevier will continue to be the single, definitive archive for the formal published version.

We will be gradually updating any public information on our policies (including our copyright forms and all information on our web site) to get it all consistent.

Karen Hunter
Senior Vice President, Strategy

Yes Alicia, the definition of authors providing free, immediate online access (Green OA self-archiving) has not changed since the online medium first made it possible. Neither has researchers? need for it changed, nor its benefits to research.

What has changed is Elsevier policy — in the direction of trying to embargo Green OA to ensure that it does not put Elsevier’s current revenue levels at any risk.

Elsevier did not try to embargo Green OA from 2004-2012 ? but apparently only because they did not believe that authors would ever really bother to provide much Green OA, nor that their institutions and funders would ever bother to require them to provide it (for its benefits to research).

But for some reason Elsevier is not ready to admit that Elsevier has now decided to embargo Green OA purely to ensure that it does not put Elsevier’s current subscription revenue levels at any risk.

Instead, Elsevier wants to hold OA hostage to its current revenue levels — by embargoing Green OA, with the payment of Fools-Gold OA publication fees the only alternative if an author wishes to provide immediate OA. This ensures that Elsevier’s current revenue levels either remain unchanged, or increase.

But, for public-relations reasons, Elsevier prefers to try to portray this as all being done out of ?fairness,? and to facilitate ?sharing? (in the spirit of OA).

The ?fairness? is to ensure that no institution is exempt from Elsevier?s Green OA embargoes.

And the ?sharing? is the social sharing services like Mendeley (which Elsevier owns), about which Elsevier now believes (for the time being) that authors would not bother to use them enough (and their institutions and funders cannot mandate that they use them) — hence that that they would not pose a risk to Elsevier’s current subscription revenue levels.

Yet another one of the ?changes? with which Elsevier seems to be trying to promote sharing is by trying to find a way to outlaw the institutional repositories? “share button” (otherwise known as the ?Fair-Dealing? Button).

So just as Elsevier is trying to claim credit for ?allowing? authors to do ?dark? (i.e., embargoed, non-OA) deposits, for which no publisher permission whatsoever is or ever was required, Elsevier now has its lawyers scrambling to find a formalizable way to make it appear as if Elsevier can forbid its authors to use the Share Button to provide individual reprints to one another, as authors have been doing for six decades, under yet another new bogus formal pretext to make it appear sufficiently confusing and threatening to ensure that the responses to Elsevier author surveys (for its “evidence-based policy”) continue to be sufficiently perplexed and meek to justify any double-talk in either Elsevier policy or Elsevier PR.

The one change in Elsevier policy that one can applaud, however (though here too the underlying intentions were far from benign), is the CC-BY-NC-ND license (unless Elsevier one day decides to back-pedal on that too too). That license is now not only allowed but required for any accepted paper that an author elects to self-archive.

Let me close by mentioning a few more of the howlers that keep making Elsevier’s unending series of arbitrary contractual bug-fixes logically incoherent (i.e., self-contradictory) and technically nonsensical, hence moot, unenforceable, and eminently ignorable by anyone who takes a few moments to think instead of cringe. Elsevier is trying to use pseudo-legal words to squeeze the virtual genie (the Web) back into the physical bottle (the old, land-based, print-on-paper world):

Locus of deposit: Elsevier tries to make legal distinctions on “where” the author may make their papers (Green) OA on the Web: “You may post it here but not there.” “Here” might be an institutional website, “there” may be a central website. “Here” might be an institutional author’s homepage, “there” might be an institutional repository.

But do Elsevier’s legal beagles ever stop to ask themselves what this all means, in the online medium? If you make your paper openly accessible anywhere at all on the web, it is openly accessible (and linkable and harvestable) from and to anywhere else on the Web. Google and google scholar will pick up the link, and so will a host of other harvesters and indexers. And users never go to the deposit site to seek a paper: They seek and find and link to it via the link harvesters and indexers. So locus restrictions are silly and completely empty in the virtual world.

The silliest of all is the injunction that “you may post it on your institutional home page but not your institutional repository.” What nonsense! The institutional home page and the institutional repository are just tagged disk sectors and software functions, of the self-same institution. They are virtual entities, created by definition; one can be renamed as the other at any time. And their functionalities are completely swappable or integrable too. That too is a feature of the virtual world.

So all Elsevier is doing by treating these virtual entities as if they were physical ones (besides confusing and misleading their authors) is creating terminological nuisances, forcing system administrators to keep re-naming and re-assigning sectors and functions, needlessly, and vacuously, just to accommodate vacuous nuisance terminological stipulations.

(The same thing applies to “systematicity” and “aggregation,” which I notice that Elsevier has since dropped as futile: The attempt had been to outlaw posting where the contents of a journal were being systematically aggregated, by analogy with a rival free-riding publisher systematically gathering together all the disparate papers in a journal so as to re-sell them at a cut-rate. Well not only is an institution no free-rising aggregator: all it is gathering its own paper output, published in multiple disparate journals. But, because of the virtual nature of the medium, it is in fact the Web itself that is systematically gathering all disparate papers together, wherever they happen to be hosted, using their metadata tags: author, title, journal, date, URL. The rest is all just software functionality. And if the full-text is out there, somewhere, anywhere, and it is OA, then there is no way to stop the rest of this very welcome and useful functionality.)

The Arxiv exception. In prior iterations of the policy, Elsevier tried (foolishly) to outlaw central deposit. They essentially tried to tell authors who had been making their papers OA in Arxiv since 1991 that they may no longer do that. Well, that did not go down very well, so those “legal” restrictions have now been replaced by the “Arxiv exception”: Authors making their papers OA there (or in RePeC) are now officially exempt from the Elsevier OA embargo.

Well here we are again: an arbitrary Elsevier restriction on immediate-OA, based on locus of deposit. The Pandora’s box that this immediately opens is that all a mandating institution need do in order to detoxify Elsevier’s OA embargo completely is to mandate immediate (dark) deposit of all institutional output in the institutional repository alongside remote deposit in Arxiv (which is already automated through the SWORD software). That completely moots all Elsevier OA embargoes. Yet another example of Elsevier’s ineffectual nuisance stipulations consisting of ad-hoc, pseudo-legal epicycles, all having one sole objective: to try to scare authors of doing anything that might possibly pose a risk to Elsevier’s current revenue streams, using any words that will do the trick, even if only for a while, and even if they make no sense.

What’s next, Elsevier? “You may use this software but not this software”?

The Share Button. Although it never defines what it means by “Share Button” (nor why it is trying to outlaw it), if what Elsevier means is the Institutional Repository’s copy-request Button, intended to provide individual copies to individual copy-requestors, then this too is just a software-facilitated eprint request.

Whenever a user seeks an embargoed deposit, they can click the Button to send an email to the author to request a copy. The author need merely click a link in the email to authorize the software to send the copy.

So does Elsevier now want to make yet another nuisance stipulation, so the Button cannot be called a “Share Button,” so instead the name of the author of the embargoed paper has to be made into an email link that notifies the author that the requestor seeks a copy, with the requestor’s email alive, and clickable, so that inserting the embargoed paper’s URL will attach one copy to the email?

Elsevier is not going to make many friends by trying to force its authors to do jump through gratuitous hoops in order to accommodate Elsevier’s ever more arbitrary and absurd attempts to contain the virtual ether with arbitrary verbal hacks.

There are more. There are further nuisance tactics in the current iteration of Elsevier’s charm initiative, in which self-serving restrictions keep being portrayed as Elsevier’s honest attempts to facilitate rather than hamper sharing. One particularly interesting one that I have not yet deconstructed (but that the attentive reader of the latest Elsevier documentation will have detected) likewise moots all Elsevier OA embargoes even more conveniently than depositing all papers in Arxiv — but I leave that as an exercise to the reader.

So Alicia, if Elsevier “admires [my] vision,” let me invite you to consult with me about present and future OA policy conditions. I’ll be happy to share with you which ones are logically incoherent and technically empty in today’s virtual world. It could save Elsevier a lot of futile effort and save Elsevier authors from a lot of useless and increasingly arbitrary and annoying nuisance-rules.

Best wishes,

Stevan Harnad

[drawing by Judith Economos]

Open Data Story Producer – OPEN DATA INSTITUTE – Jobzonen

“The Open Data Story Producer will work closely with teams across the Evidence Programme and the organisation as a whole, with particularly close connections to the Research, Communications and Production teams.

Typically, our projects involve some or all of the following: research, data analysis, technical build, content production (websites, data visualisation, reports), communication and evaluation. Collectively we call these outputs ‘stories’, and are now looking for someone to manage the end-to-end process of creating them.”