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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2015

Elsevier unpopularity deepens

Publishing giant Elsevier’s recently announced plan to “unleash the power of academic sharing” has been greeted with derision by a global alliance of library and research organizations.

According to the group, Elsevier’s newly-adopted sharing and hosting policy won’t make sharing journal articles “simple and seamless” but in fact promote the opposite.

The coalition, lead by the Confederation of Open Access Repositories and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, claims Elsevier is creating a significant obstacle to the dissemination and use of research knowledge.

Particular points of concern are the policy’s retroactive imposition of lengthy embargo periods and onerous use covenants on academic articles. The restrictions are anticipated to make it more difficult for researchers to comply with open-access policies being implemented by public research funding agencies. Open access refers to systems that make scholarly work freely available on the public internet for any person to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, index or link to the full texts of articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose.

CAUT executive director David Robinson identifies the challenge open access is presenting to publishing corporations as the source of Elsevier’s action.

“Private journal publishers have a brilliant business model,” Robinson said. “Academics produce, at great public expense, creative works that they donate to private companies, which sell them back to the public at great cost. Of course they want to preserve such a sweet deal.”

A statement calling on Elsevier to reconsider the policy has so far garnered more than 200 institutional signatures. Individuals and groups can sign on the campaign at