Elsevier’s PURE: self-interest and exploitation

Alicia Wise (ELS-OXF) wrote in GOAL:
Hi everyone,
     PURE enables universities and researchers to comply with the HEFCE open access policy. For more information on PURE, please refer to https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/pure.
     Elsevier sharing policies are also consistent with the HEFCE policy. Gold open access articles can of course be shared immediately. Subscription articles are made available via Green open access. In the UK we have lowered embargo periods for authors as part of the balanced package of moves toward OA brokered amongst stakeholders by the Finch Group. This is made perfectly clear on our website, and I invite list readers to read this text for themselves. Go to https://www.elsevier.com/about/open-science/open-access/agreements and select ?United Kingdom? from the pull-down list.

If the British research community, universities, and government heed the siren call of all the disinformation summed up by Elsevier above, what can one say but that we deserve everything that?s coming to us?

Every single talking point above is the exact opposite of the truth, and of what is best for the research community, researchers and the British tax-paying public in the online era.

And it takes only a little critical reflection to see exactly how and why.

I will not repeat here, yet again, all the points to which I?ve tried ? unsuccessfully ? to alert the research community across the years.

It should be enough to just ask ourselves:

?Why on earth is the research journal publishing industry ? the industry that has made a fortune by appropriating our intellectual property during the many years when the costs and constraints of print and its distribution left us no choice ? now to be allowed not only to retain its stranglehold but to strengthen it — and to do so in the online era, the era that would at last have allowed us to free ourselves (and our property, and our actions) from that industry’s gratuitous and greedy grip??

We don?t need Elsevier (or any publisher) and its PURE Trojan Horse to handle the archiving, access-provision, accounting and assessment of our research output! We only need publishers to manage the peer review (which we also provide ourselves, for free, the same way we provide our articles for free).

Why on earth do we want to willingly and knowingly renew and even reinforce this Faustian Bargain?

It is not that I am too exhausted to keep fighting.

It is that the research community?s gormless gullibility (not Elsevier) is starting to look unconquerable, incorrigible.

From: Stevan Harnad
Date: November 11, 2015 at 11:10:47 AM GMT-5
Subject: PURE Nonsense (and Mischief)

PURE is a Trojan Horse from Elsevier that (some) UK institutions have allowed to enter their portals. It is a trick, by Elsevier, to insinuate themselves into and retain control of everything they can: access, timing of access, fulfillment of mandates, research assessment, everything. The ploy was to sneak in via CRIS?s, which are systems for institutions wishing to manage and monitor their metadata on all their functions.

Notice that the following passage from KCL’s OA Policy makes no mention of timing:

In internal evaluation procedures it will be expected that all publications considered as part of appraisal or promotional assessments, will have a metadata record in the Research Information System, PURE, with either the full text article attached and downloadable from the Research Portal, or a link to the Open Access article on the journal?s web site.

What PURE is in reality designed to do is to make sure that the full text is not openly accessible until after the publisher embargo on Open Access has elapsed.

In point of fact, the battle for OA has long shifted to the arena of timing: The 1-year (or longer) embargo is the one to beat. Access after the embargo elapses is a foregone conclusion (publishers have already implicitly conceded on it, without overtly saying so). But access embargoed for 12 months is not OA. Publishers want to make sure (1) that there is no OA before the embargo elapses, (2) that the embargo is as long as possible, and (3) that even after the embargo, access should be via the publisher website, or at least controlled in some way by the publisher.

That?s exactly what PURE + CRIS does.

And (some) UK institutions (under pressure from Finch?s fatal foolishness ? likewise originating from the publisher lobby — have been persuaded that PURE will not only provide all the OA they want, but will take a lot of other asset-management tasks off their shoulders.

It?s a huge scam, masquerading as OA, and its only real function is to strengthen the perverse status quo ? of ceding the control of university research access to publishers ? even more than it had already been ceded before.

It won?t succeed, of course, because HEFCE/REF2020 has nailed down the timing of full-text deposit as having to be made within 3 months of acceptance (not publication) for eligibility for REF2020, which a metadata promissory note from Elsevier will not fullfill. My hope is that universities will be as anxious as they have been for 30 years now not to risk REF ineligibility by failing to comply with this very specific requirement.

(And the institution?s copy-request Button will take care of the rest, as long as all full-texts are deposited within Acceptance + 3.)

(I think it was a mistake on HEFCE/REF?s part to state formally that there is no need to archive the dated acceptance letter that defines the acceptance date, but again I trust in the anxiety of universities to comply with REF2020 eligibility requirements to draw the rational conclusion that it is indeed within 3 months of acceptance that deposit must be done for eligibility, and not 12 months after publication.)

As you will see from the ROARMAP data, KCL?s OA policy alone is not compliant with the requirement for REF2020 eligibility, and the above extract does not change that one bit!

Nor is there any need whatsoever to turn to turn to Elsevier’s PURE for CRIS asset-management functionality: Open source versions of CRIS/CERIF already exist and more are on the way. Elsevier and Thompson/Reuters bought up the first generation (developed, of course, by universities) but the next generation is already being created. Industry is richer in buy-up money but bright doctoral students at universities are an inexhaustible resource of ever more powerful tools — and many of them are not as ready as their university administration is, to sell out to industries that exploit the very hand that feeds them.

Stevan Harnad