William Gunn (Mendeley) wrote:

?[E]verything you could post publicly and immediately before, you can do so now. There’s a NEW category of author manuscript, one which now comes with Elsevier-supplied metadata specifying the license and the embargo expiration date, that is subject to the embargo. The version the author sent to the journal, even post peer-review, can be posted publicly and immediately, which wasn’t always the case before??

Actually in the 2004-2012 Elsevier policy it was the case: Elsevier authors could post their post-peer-review versions publicly and immediately in their institutional repositories. This was then obfuscated by Elsevier from 2012-2014 with double-talk, and now has been formally embargoed in 2015.

Elsevier authors can, however, post their post-peer-review versions publicly and immediately on their institutional home page or blog, as well as on Arxiv or RePeC, with an immediate CC-BY-NC-ND license. That does in fact amount to the same thing as the 2004-2012 policy (in fact better, because of the license), but it is embedded in such a smoke-screen of double-talk and ambiguity that most authors and institutional OA policy-makers and repository-managers will be unable to understand and implement it.

My main objection is to Elsevier?s smokescreen. This could all be stated and implemented so simply if Elsevier were acting in good faith. But to avoid any risk to itself, Elsevier prefers to keep research access at risk with complicated, confusing edicts.

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.

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 

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?


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: “‘'”
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]

Elsevier updates its article-sharing policies, perspectives and services

On May 1, 2015, at 7:30 AM, Wise, Alicia (ELS-OXF) wrote:

“Dear Stevan ?

“Elsevier supports the need for researchers to share their research and collaborate effectively. In light of the recent STM consultation on the principles for article sharing, I wanted to reach out to you directly to let you know about some changes we are making which will enable Elsevier published content to be shared more widely. To underpin these efforts we have updated our approach ? informed by very constructive input from institutions, authors and funders we work with – and are now launching new guidelines. I invite you to read our article hosting and article sharing guidelines on

“We have published an article on Elsevier Connect, our online communication platform to explain some further details behind the changes and the new technologies and exciting pilots we are deploying to facilitate sharing. As always, we welcome comments or suggestions, and are happy to discuss any questions or concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me.”

with very kind wishes,


Key highlights:

“We continue to support sharing of preprints, accepted manuscripts, and final publications and provide simple guidelines for authors about how they can share at each stage of their workflow.

“We are providing a range of options for researchers to share their work publicly, including a new Share Links service which provides 50 days free access to the final article on ScienceDirect.

“We are making it clear that we want to work with hosting platforms, such as institutional repositories, to make sharing easy and seamless for researchers. We will no longer require an agreement with institutional repositories and instead clarify that self-archived accepted manuscripts can be used under a CC-BY-NC-ND license and that they can be hosted and shared privately during the embargo and publically shared after embargo.

“We are also providing a wider range of ways for researchers to share their work privately during the journal?s embargo period, such as in private workgroups on sites such as Mendeley and MyScienceWork.”

Dr Alicia Wise
Director of Access and Policy
Elsevier I The Boulevard I Langford Lane I Kidlington I Oxford I OX5 1GB
M: +44 (0) 7823 536 826 I E:
Twitter: @wisealic

Dear Alicia,

I’ve looked over the latest Elsevier revision of its policy on author OA self-archiving, as requested.

The essential points of the latest policy revision are two:

I. Elsevier still endorses both immediate-deposit and immediate-OA, for the pre-refereeing preprint, anywhere (author’s institutional home page, author’s institutional repository, Arxiv, etc.).

II. Elsevier still endorses immediate-deposit and immediate-OA for the refereed postprint on the author’s home page or in Arxiv, but not immediate-OA in the author’s institutional repository, where OA is embargoed.
(1) Elsevier should state quite explicitly that its latest revision of its policy on author OA self-archiving has taken a very specific step backward from the policy first adopted in 2004:

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.

Elsevier has withdrawn its endorsement of immediate-OA in the author’s institutional repository. It’s best not to try to conceal this in language that makes it sound as if Elsevier is taking positive steps in response to the demand for OA.

(2) The distinction between the author’s institutional home page and the author’s institutional repository is completely arbitrary and empty. Almost no one consults either a home page or a repository directly. The deposits and links are simply harvested by Google and Google Scholar (and other harvesters), and that’s where users search and retrieve them.

[Hence the worries of Elsevier’s market analysts and legal beagles about “systematic aggregation” (now revised to just “aggregation”) by mandatory institutional repositories are completely misplaced! The aggregation occurs at the level of the harvester (Google, etc.), not at the level of the source (the institution — whether home page or repository). Besides, all an institution need do to oblige and become compliant with Elsevier’s empty distinction is to designate the institutional disk sector containing the author’s publications in the “repository” to be part of the author’s “home page.” — Here’s a clue for the technologically phase-lagged: Aggregation in cyberspace is no longer a matter of physical locus but of metadata tagging. This moots all of Elsevier’s pseudo-distinctions for all practical as well as legal purposes.]

(3) If an author (foolishly) decides to comply with an Elsevier OA embargo, there is the automated copy-request Button, with which the author can provide a copy almost-immediately, with one click from the requestor and one click from the author. (Elsevier’s reputation is not enhanced by the fact that many users and authors will now have to do two extra clicks to get a copy, because Elsevier was not happy to let them do it with one click.)

My advice is accordingly to go back to the original 2004 policy. You had it right the first time. The rest has only muddied Elsevier’s reputation.

With best wishes,


On Fri, May 1, 2015 at 11:21 AM, Wise, Alicia (ELS-OXF) wrote:

Hi Stevan ?

“We continue to permit immediate self-archiving in an author?s institutional repository. This is now true for all institutional repositories, not only those with which we have agreements or those that do not have mandates.”

Hi again Alicia,

I am afraid you missed what I was pointing out:

The 2004 Elsevier OA self-archiving policy endorsed immediate-deposit and immediate (unembargoed) OA.

The latest policy embargoes OA in institutional repositories.

You are using “self-archiving” ambiguously. No “permission” is needed to deposit. What is at issue is when the deposit can be made OA.

Nor do institutional mandates to deposit have anything whatsoever to do with anything. What is at issue is when the deposit can be made OA.

So, as I said in my prior posting, “Elsevier should state quite explicitly that its latest revision of its policy on author OA self-archiving has taken a very specific step backward from the policy first adopted in 2004.”

“You are correct that under our old policy, authors could post anywhere without an embargo if their institution didn?t have a mandate.”

No, Elsevier’s original 2004 policy (see below) made no mention of mandates whatsoever (although there were a number of institutional and funder mandates by that time).

Elsevier’s attempt to create a link between the author’s right to make the final draft OA and their institution’s OA policy was made in 2012, after the prior Elsevier policy had been in effect for 8 years.

And then, as now, I maintained that the link with institutional OA policy is absurd and meaningless, and authors should ignore it completely.

“Our new policy is designed to be consistent and fair for everybody, and we believe it now reflects how the institutional repository landscape has evolved in the last 10+ years.”

The current Elsevier policy now removes the absurd link with institutional OA policy, which had been used as a pretext for embargoing OA. Elsevier makes it “consistent” by embargoing OA in all institutional repositories, whether or not they have an OA mandate.

In contrast, the equally absurd attempt to prevent Arxiv authors from continuing to do what they have been doing since 1991 has now been dropped, so unembargoed OA in Arxiv, previously “forbidden” (though authors have been doing it uninterruptedly for nearly a quarter century) is now offically “permitted” — in Arxiv but not in institutional repositories.

So neither consistency nor fairness is at issue — quite the opposite. This is back-pedalling from 2004 (and 2012) being disguised as consistency and fairness, to make it look like a positive rather than a negative step.

“We require embargo periods because for subscription articles, an appropriate amount of time is needed for journals to deliver value to subscribing customers before the manuscript becomes available for free. Libraries understandably will not subscribe if the content is immediately available for free. Our sharing policy now reflects that reality.”

Although there is still no objective evidence that OA self-archiving reduces subscriptions, I am quite ready to believe that once all journal articles (of all journal publishers) are accessible as immediate OA, subscriptions will become unsustainable. That outcome is inevitable — and it will happen with or without OA mandates and with or without publisher OA embargoes.

What Elsevier’s OA policies are attempting to do is to delay the inevitable for as long as possible, in order to sustain subscription revenue for as long as possible, by embargoing OA.

Fine. There is a fundamental conflict of interest here, between what is best for the publishing industry and what is best for the research community, its institutions, its funders, and the tax-paying public that funds the funders.

OA embargoes impede research. It’s as simple as that. But they also sustain subscription revenue. So publishers are simply impeding research in order to sustain subscription revenue.

It would be nice if publishers stated that honestly, in justifying their embargo policies, rather than trying to disguise it as trying to help research and the research community in any way.

The attempt to embargo OA will of course fail — although it will succeed in slowing OA progress, as it has been doing so far.

What will undermine the attempts to sustain subscription revenue at all costs will be the eventual realization by the research community that all the essential functions of peer-reviewed journal publishing can be provided at far, far lower cost to the research community than either subscription fees or (today’s) inflated Gold OA fees (which I have come to call “Fools Gold”).

And that is via “Fair-Gold” peer-review service fees, paid for out of a fraction of institutions’ windfall savings from cancelling all subscriptions.

And what will make those subscription cancellations possible is exactly what Elsevier and other publishers are trying to prevent, or at least delay as long as possible, by embargoing it, namely universal, immediate, unembargoed Green OA: precisely what the research community is trying to mandate.

Harnad, S (2014) The only way to make inflated journal subscriptions unsustainable: Mandate Green Open Access. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog 4/28

Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

Harnad, S. (2009) The PostGutenberg Open Access Journal. In: Cope, B. & Phillips, A (Eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal. Chandos.

Harnad, S. (1997) How to Fast-Forward Serials to the Inevitable and the Optimal for Scholars and Scientists. Serials Librarian 30: 73-81. (Reprinted in C. Christiansen & C. Leatham, Eds. Pioneering New Serials Frontiers: From Petroglyphs to CyberSerials. NY: Haworth Press, and in French translation as Comment Accelerer l’Ineluctable Evolution des Revues Erudites vers la Solution Optimale pour les Chercheurs et la Recherche

The outcome is inevitable, and optimal (for the research community and the public); the only part that is not predictable (because human rationality is not always predictable) is how long publishers will succeed in delaying the optimal and inevitable…

Best wishes,


Not True that AAAS Does Not Advance Open Access

Re: “AAAS Chooses Not To Advance Open Access”
by Jon Tenant & Erin McKiernan
in The Conversation & Science 2.0

“Why easier for researchers to rant about publishers not doing right OA thing
than to do right OA thing?

Master Basho (old Zen Koan)

There are two ways to provide Open Access (OA): (1) Publishing in an OA journal (“Gold OA”) or (2) publishing in a subscription journal (like AAAS’s Science) and self-archiving the article by depositing the final refereed draft in the author’s institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication (“Green OA”).

There are two kinds (or degrees) of OA: free online access (“Gratis OA”) and free online access plus certain re-use rights (“Libre OA”).

What funders and institutions are mandating is Green Gratis OA; not Gold OA. And they are only recommending, not requiring, Libre OA.

60% of journals endorse immediate, unembargoed Green Gratis OA. 40% of journals embargo OA.

The journals that do not embargo Green Gratis OA are the 60% that are advancing OA. (They are “on the side of the angels” regarding OA.)

All the AAAS journals, including Science, are on the side of the angels. They do not embargo immediate Green Gratis OA.

In contrast, Nature used to be — but is no longer — on the side of the angels: it embargoes Green Gratis OA for 6 months. (Many journals embargo it for 12 months; some even longer.)

It is both untrue and extremely unproductive (for OA — both Gratis and Libre) to describe a publisher that is on the side of the angels for Green Gratis OA as one that “does not advance Open Access.”

Once it is universally mandated by all research institutions and funders, Green Gratis OA will be universally provided. That is (Gratis) OA: online access to all peer-reviewed journal articles, not just for subscribers, but free for all.

Global Green Gratis OA will in turn lead to journal cancellations and a conversion of all journals to Libre Gold OA, at a fair price (“Fair Gold“) paid out of the subscription cancellation windfall savings.

But Global Green Gratis OA is being held back by publisher embargoes.

To chastise AAAS as “not advancing Open Access” even though AAAS endorses immediate, unembargoed Gratis Green OA is to encourage publishers to embargo OA because they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.


Jon Tennant’s field of geology (and several other fields) would benefit from Libre OA. In contrast, endorsing immediate Libre OA (which includes the right of a 3rd-party rival publisher to free-ride on and undercut the primary publisher’s content, immediately, inducing immediate cancellations) is something it is quite understandable that a publisher would not want to do today: Better to wait for Global Green Gratis OA to be reached gradually via mandates, and all journals having to convert to Libre Fair-Gold, rather than having to do it pre-emptively, alone, today.

So please have patience and encourage institutions and funders to mandate Green Gratis OA rather than encouraging publishers to embargo it, by implying that if a publisher does not allow immediate Libre OA, it is slowing progress toward OA.

What is slowing progress toward OA is just the slowness of institutions and funders to mandate it (and hence the slowness of their authors to provide it).

To deprecate publishers that endorse immediate, unembargoed Gratis Green OA is to further slow the progress of OA.

Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L?Harmattan. 99-106.

______ (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

______ (2013) The Postgutenberg Open Access Journal. In, Cope, B and Phillips, A (eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal (2nd edition). Chandos.

Elsevier Tries To Sort Itself Out…

On Tue, May 27, 2014, Alicia Wise (ELS-OXF)  wrote:

Alicia Wise (Elsevier):

Hi Stevan,

I must confess to being utterly perplexed by this email. Elsevier’s policies have not changed (though we are reflecting and reviewing, as always) so is it that Romeo has changed the way it classifies our existing policies?  Very interested in learning  more…

With kind wishes,


Dr Alicia Wise
Director of Access and Policy

Stevan Harnad:

Hi Alicia,

I agree completely that Elsevier’s Green OA No-Embargo Policy has not changed at all from the way Karen formulated it 10 years ago:

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.”  

But SHERPA Romeo is classifying the Policy correctly as Green (and for some Elsevier journals “Blue,” which actually also means Green! But because of Romeo’s absurd colour scheme, “Romeo Blue” means that the refereed final draft can be immediately self-archived without embargo, whereas “Romeo Green” is reserved for when both the refereed final draft and the pre-refereeing draft can be immediately self-archived — which is utterly irrelevant for OA, and caused needless and endless confusion, being at odds with the way “Green OA” is now universally used!)

But I also have to add that some of the confusion is caused by Elsevier’s more recent attempts to add some pseudo-legal hedges to its Green OA policy, to the effect that Elsevier’s authors retain the right to do everything Karen specified in 2004 except if they are required to exercise that right (by their institutions), in which they may not do it.

That is every bit as absurd as SHERPA’s green/blue distinction, and can and should also be ignored by all authors. But you wanted to learn more…

I think that today, the 10th anniversary of the Elsevier Green OA Policy, would be an excellent day to publicly scrap the empty hedges and re-assert the very progressive and constructive Elsevier Policy as it was and is. The hedges just cause gratuitous confusion and are very bad for Elsevier’s image…

With best wishes,

Stevan Harnad

Elsevier Keeps Revising Its Double-Talk (But Remains Fully Green)
How Elsevier Can Improve Its Public Image
Elsevier’s Public Image Problem
Institutions & Funders: Ignore Elsevier Take-Down Notices (and Mandate Immediate-Deposit)
Some Quaint Elsevier Tergiversation on Rights Retention
Publisher Double Dealing on OA
Free Will and Systematicity
Elsevier requires institutions to seek Elsevier’s agreement to require their authors to exercise their rights?

Date: Thu, 27 May 2004 23:51:58
From: Stevan Harnad  

Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving

Elsevier has just gone from being a Romeo “Pale-Green” publisher to a full Romeo Green publisher: Authors have the publisher’s official green light to self-archive both their pre-refereeing preprints and their refereed postprints. 

Elsevier has thereby demonstrated that — whatever its pricing policy may be — it is a publisher that has heeded the need and the expressed desire of the research community for Open Access (OA) and its benefits to research productivity and progress. 

There will be the predictable cavils from the pedants and those who have never understood the real meaning and nature of OA: “It’s only the final refereed draft, not the publisher’s PDF,” “It does not include republishing rights,” “Elsevier is still not an OA publisher.” 

I, for one, am prepared to stoutly defend Elsevier on all these counts, and to say that one could not have asked for more, and that the full benefits of OA require not one bit more — from the publisher. 

For now it’s down to you, Dear Researchers! Elsevier (and History) is hereafter fully within its rights to say: 

“If Open Access is truly as important to researchers as they claim it is — indeed as 30,000+ signatories to the PLoS Open Letter attested that it was — then if researchers are not now ready to provide that Open Access, even when given the publisher’s official green light to do so, then there is every reason to doubt that they mean (or even know) what they are saying when they clamour for Open Access.” 

Elsevier publishes 1,700+ journals. That means at least 200,000 articles a year. will be carefully quantifying and tracking what proportion of those 200,000 articles is made OA by their authors through self-archiving across the next few months and years. Indeed we will be monitoring all of the over 80% of journals sampled by Romeo that are already green. 

(The following Romeo summary stats are already out of date, because 1700 pale-green journals have now become bright green! but we will soon catch up at: [which is under construction, waiting for full journal lists from each of the 93 publishers sampled so far].) 

The OA ball is now clearly in the research community’s court (not the publishing community’s, not the library community’s). Let researchers and their employers and funders now all rise to the occasion by adopting and implementing institutional OA provision policies. Don’t just sign petitions for publishers to provide OA, but commit your own institution to providing it: 

Stevan Harnad 

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

Karen Hunter (Elsevier):


[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 

Big Deals, Big Macs and Consortial Licensing

Ann Okerson (as interviewed by Richard Poynder) is committed to licensing. I am not sure whether the commitment is ideological or pragmatic, but it’s clearly a lifelong (“asymptotic”) commitment by now.

I was surprised to see the direction Ann ultimately took because — as I have admitted many times — it was Ann who first opened my eyes to (what eventually came to be called) “Open Access.”

In the mid and late 80’s I was still just in the thrall of the scholarly and scientific potential of the revolutionarily new online medium itself (“Scholarly Skywriting”), eager to get everything to be put online. It was Ann’s work on the serials crisis that made me realize that it was not enough just to get it all online: it also had to be made accessible (online) to all of its potential users, toll-free — not just to those whose institutions could afford the access-tolls (licenses).

And even that much I came to understand, sluggishly, only after I had first realized that what set apart the writings in question was not that they were (as I had first naively dubbed them) “esoteric” (i.e., they had few users) but that they were peer-reviewed research journal articles, written by researchers solely for impact, not for income.

But I don’t think the differences between Ann and me can be set down to ideology vs. pragmatics. I too am far too often busy trying to free the growth of open access from the ideologues (publishing reformers, rights reformers (Ann’s “open use” zealots), peer review reformers, freedom of information reformers) who are slowing the progress of access to peer-reviewed journal articles (from “now” to “better”) by insisting only and immediately on what they believe is the “best.” Like Ann, I, too, am all pragmatics (repository software, analyses of the OA impact advantage, mandates, analyses of mandate effeciveness).

So Ann just seems to have a different sense of what can (hence should) be done, now, to maximize access, and how (as well as how fast). And after her initial, infectious inclination toward toll-free access (which I and others caught from her) she has apparently concluded that what is needed is to modify the terms of the tolls (i.e., licensing).

This is well-illustrated by Ann’s view on SCOAP3: “All it takes is for libraries to agree that what they?ve now paid as subscription fees for those journals will be paid instead to CERN, who will in turn pay to the publishers as subsidy for APCs.”

I must alas disagree with this view, on entirely pragmatic — indeed logical — grounds: the transition from annual institutional subscription fees to annual consortial OA publication fees is an incoherent, unscalable, unsustainable Escherian scheme that contains the seeds of its own dissolution, rather than a pragmatic means of reaching a stable “asymptote”: Worldwide, across all disciplines, there are P institutions, Q journals, and R authors, publishing S articles per year. The only relevant item is the article. The annual consortial licensing model — reminiscent of the Big Deal — is tantamount to a global oligopoly and does not scale (beyond CERN!).

So if SCOAP3 is the pragmatic basis for Ann’s “predict[ion that] we?ll see such journals evolve into something more like ‘full traditional OA’ before too much longer” then one has some practical basis for scepticism — a scepticism Ann shares when it comes to “hybrid Gold” OA journals — unless of course such a transition to Fool’s Gold is both mandated and funded by governments, as the UK and Netherlands governments have lately proposed, under the influence of their publishing lobbies! But the globalization of such profligate folly seems unlikely on the most pragmatic grounds of all: affordability. (The scope for remedying world hunger, disease or injustice that way are marginally better — and McDonalds would no doubt be interested in such a yearly global consortial pre-payment deal for their Big Macs too?)

I also disagree (pragmatically) with Ann’s apparent conflation of the access problem for journal articles with the access problem for books. (It’s the inadequacy of the “esoteric” criterion again. Many book authors — hardly pragmatists — still dream of sales & riches, and fear that free online access would thwart these dreams, driving away the prestigious publishers whose imprimaturs distinguish their work from vanity press.)

Pragmatically speaking, OA to articles has already proved slow enough in coming, and has turned out to require mandates to induce and embolden authors to make their articles OA. But for articles, at least, there is author consensus that OA is desirable, hence there is the motivation to comply with OA mandates from authors’ institutions and funders. Books, still a mixed bag, will have to wait. Meanwhile, no one is stopping those book authors who want to make their books free online from picking publishers who agree?

And there are plenty of pragmatic reasons why the librarian-obsession — perhaps not ideological, but something along the same lines — with the Version-of-Record is misplaced when it comes to access to journal articles: The author’s final, peer-reviewed, accepted draft means the difference between night and day for would-be users whose institutions cannot afford toll-access to the publisher’s proprietary VoR.

And for the time being the toll-access VoR is safe [modulo the general digital-preservation problem, which is not an OA problem], while subscription licenses are being paid by those who can afford them. CHORUS and SHARE have plenty of pragmatic advantages for publishers (and ideological ones for librarians), but they are vastly outweighed by their practical disadvantages for research and researchers — of which the biggest is that they leave access-provision in the hands of publishers (and their licensing conditions).

About the Marie-Antoinette option for the developing world — R4L — the less said, the better. The pragmatics really boil down to time: the access needs of both the developing and the developed world are pressing. Partial and makeshift solutions are better than nothing, now. But it’s been “now” for an awfully long time; and time is not an ideological but a pragmatic matter; so is lost research usage and impact.

Ann says: “Here?s the fondest hope of the pragmatic OA advocate: that we settle on a series of business practices that truly make the greatest possible collection of high-value material accessible to the broadest possible audience at the lowest possible cost ? not just lowest cost to end users, but lowest cost to all of us.”

Here’s a slight variant, by another pragmatic OA advocate: “that we settle on a series of research community policies that truly make the greatest possible collection of peer-reviewed journal articles accessible online free for all users, to the practical benefit of all of us.”

The online medium has made this practically possible. The publishing industry — pragmatists rather than ideologists — will adapt to this new practical reality. Necessity is the Mother of Invention.

Let me close by suggesting that perhaps something Richard Poynder wrote is not quite correct either: He wrote “It was [the] affordability problem that created the accessibility problem that OA was intended to solve.”

No, it was the creation of the online medium that made OA not only practically feasible (and optimal) for research and researchers, but inevitable.

Stevan Harnad