Why Doesn’t Elsevier State the Truth, Openly?

I will not do yet another detailed, point-by-point rebuttal in response to Alicia/Elsevier’s latest tergiversations (“COAR-recting the record“), just to have it all once again ignored, and instead replied to yet again with nothing but empty jargon and double talk:

“At each stage of the publication process authors can share their research: before submission, from acceptance, upon publication, and post publication.”

This ?share? is a weasel word. It does not mean OA. It means what authors have always been able to do, without need of publisher permission: They can share copies ? electronic or paper ? with other individuals. That?s the 60-year old practice of mailing preprints and reprints individually to requesters. OA means free immediate access online to all would-be users.

“For authors who want free immediate access to their articles, we continue to give all authors a choice to publish gold open access with a wide number of open access journals and over 1600 hybrid titles ?

In other words, now, the only Elsevier-autthorized way authors can provide OA is to pay extra for it (?Gold OA?).

Since 2004 Elsevier had endorsed authors providing free immediate (un-embargoed) access (?Green OA?) by self-archiving in their institutional repositories. The double-talk began in 2012.

Elsevier can?t seem to bring itself to admit quite openly (sic) that they have (after a lot of ambiguous double-talk) back-pedalled and reneged on their prior policy, instead imposing embargoes of various lengths. They desperately want to be perceived as having taken a positive, progressive step forward. Hence all the denial and double-talk.

Elsevier tries to argue that their decision is ?fair? and ?evidence based? ? whereas in fact it is based on asking some biassed and ambiguous questions to some librarians, authors and administrators after having first used a maximum of ever-changing pseudo-legal gibberish to ensure that they can only respond with confusion to the confusion that Elsevier has sown. In reality all Elsevier is doing is trying to make authors and their institutions hostage to either subscriptions or (Fools) Gold OA fees by embargoing Green OA. Anything that will sustain Elsevier’s current revenue streams and M.O.

We cannot get Elsevier to retain a fair, clear policy (along the lines of their original 2004 policy) but we should certainly expose, name and shame them as loudly and widely as possible for the disgraceful and tendentious spin with which they are now trying to sell their unfair, unclear and exploitative back-pedalling.

Stevan Harnad