Elsevier tries to block institutional OA mandates

Elsevier obviously is trying to block institutions from adopting open access mandates by its policy of demanding separate agreements. The kind of agreements with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) proposed by Elsevier represent a huge step backwards concerning author rights.

The Steering Committee of the OpenAccess.se in May 2011 made a statement critical to Elsevier’s policy on author rights, which now requires specific agreements with universities or research funders if they have an open access mandate. The committee urged Elsevier to withdraw the new clause and recommended ”that Swedish universities with open access mandates refrain from concluding separate agreements with Elsevier. Instead, this issue should be managed along with negotiations over national license agreements with Elsevier”.
The statement was commented by Alicia Wise, Director of Universal Access from Elsevier, to which I responded. You will find our exchange of comments here.
Alicia had written ”we are still in test-and-learn mode for institutional agreements.” We also had a number of questions. So when Elsevier proposed a pilot for manuscript posting in Sweden involving a number of institutions we were prepared to take a closer look at it.

A pilot proposal was formulated by Elsevier, Proposal for systematic posting pilot in Sweden 2011 _ 10 November 2011

Response to Elsevier proposal
This proposal has now been discussed by the Steering Committees of the Swedish BIBSAM (licensing) consortium and of the OpenAccess.se. Both steering committees came to the conclusion that we should withdraw from further negotiations on this proposal.
In a Response to Elsevier’s OA pilot proposal for Sweden the position of these committees is explained:
”The main objection is that the embargo times – varying from 12 to 48 months – in the proposal will severely restrict and deteriorate the rights of authors to deposit copies of their articles in their institutional repositories.”

”We want researchers at all HEIs – irrespective of their institution having an OA mandate or not – to have the right to post at least the accepted author version of their articles in Elsevier journals in their institutional repository immediately after publication.”

”When other publishers try to adapt their policies to OA mandates Elsevier instead seems to have chosen the alternative of trying to block OA mandates. We do not think this is a wise policy in the long run.”

/Jan Hagerlid, coordinator of the OpenAccess.se programme

P.S. I have noticed that there is now a website where researchers publicly declare that they do not want to work for Elsevier. Most of them write “won’t publish, won’t referee, won’t do editorial work”

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6 kommentarer till Elsevier tries to block institutional OA mandates

  1. Stevan Harnad skriver:


    You may self-archive your final draft on the web, immediately upon acceptance for publication, free for all — but not if you are mandated to do it (i.e., you may if you may but you may not if you must).”

    Authors are advised to advise their publishers, if ever asked, hand on heart, that everything they do, they do out of their own free will, and not out of coercion (and that includes the mandate to publish or perish).

    If anyone is minded to spend any more time on this nonsense than the time it took to read this message, then they deserve everything that’s coming (and not coming) to them.

    Elsevier authors: Just keep self-archiving in your IRs, exactly as before, and ignore these three silly new clauses, secure in the knowledge that they contain nothing of substance…


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  3. Mr. Gunn skriver:

    They’re trying to kill open access mandate in the US as well: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/hoap/Notes_on_the_Research_Works_Act

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  6. Alicia Wise skriver:

    Dear Jan,

    Perhaps the best response is a simple one. Your readers may be interested to read for themselves a summary of Elsevier’s open access options at http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/intro.cws_home/open_access_mechanisms

    I remain happy to talk to you at any time to find a way forward. It appears that in Sweden funders, institutions, and publishers have policies that could be, but are not yet, aligned. This creates a rather confusing landscape for us all. We can get further, faster by working together.

    With kind wishes,
    Alicia (@wisealic)