“For some time now, many of us having been deeply unimpressed with the fact that Elsevier, one of the chief opponents to the progress of Open Science, will be helping to monitor the future of Open Science in Europe. Metaphors about foxes and hen-houses have been flying everywhere.
We have launched several initiatives to try and combat this.
One of these was a formal complaint to the EU Ombudsman and the European Commission. Herein, we outlined 2 major groups of issues. The first was more around the awarding process to Elsevier and their group itself, and some elements which we believed required more transparency. The second was around the role of Elsevier, issues with the proposed methods, and the enormous conflicts of interest apparent in having Elsevier monitoring services and processes that they and their competitors sold.
Following this, there were a flurry of exchanges, the most important one being that the EU Commission produced a detailed report to respond to our questions. While this clarified many of the issues, mostly regarding the award process itself, it did not adequately address a number of others; primarily regarding the bias and conflicts of interest around Elsevier and the proposed methodologies.
Our latest step here was to obtain a copy of the awarding contract, which we have now made public (with permission). The original tender is still online here. It seems that pretty much everything checks out here from the EC, as we should have expected. We really appreciate the efforts of the Commission here in providing detailed responses and more transparency to our queries; especially after the callous dismissals by Elsevier and the Lisbon Council that we received when we originally raised these issues. It seems that our concerns were extremely well founded, as justified by the fact that the EC had to perform a full investigation into the process. No apology from either Elsevier or the Lisbon Council for their ad hominem retorts has been given since….
More than 1100 people signed our original complaint to the EU Ombudsman. However, as this was just drafted as a Google Doc, they weren’t ‘formal’ signatories. As such, one additional step taken was to launch a petition through the EU to request that Elsevier be removed as the sole contractor for the Open Science Monitor. It took a while to get processed, but this finally went live here recently….
What is next then?
Well, this is where things get a little vague. The Commission don’t seem to care about Elsevier, and their continuous exploitation of the public purse and research enterprise. They seem to not be fully conscious of the conflicts of interest inherent in having Elsevier in a position in which they will so clearly benefit from. They also do not seem to appreciate the fairly offensive irony in having Elsevier monitoring a system that was essentially catalysed by their regressive business practices….”