In May we welcomed Kevin Smith, Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communication at Duke University Libraries, to the OpenCon Community Call to talk about Elsevier’s recent update to its article sharing policy. It was great to hear from someone so knowledgeable on what the impact of this policy change could mean for those publishing in Elsevier journals – in summary, the policy claims to increase sharing whilst actually restricting access.
Before the new policy, authors could immediately deposit their work into repositories in most cases (the major exception being a clause that punished institutions with open access policies by disallowing authors who were required by the institution to make an article accessible through the repository). With the new policy, authors may have to wait up to four years to make their work available through most repositories (including those hosted by their institution). The new policy also requires authors to use the most restrictive of the Creative Commons licenses (CC-BY-NC-ND) when sharing an Elsevier-published manuscript. There are additional features that create an impression of sharing, such as Sharelink, which would provide an expiring 50-day link to a paper that could litter the web with broken links to articles.
On its surface, Elsevier’s summary of the policy would suggest it is easy to navigate, but the truth is quite the opposite. A lengthy document weaves a complicated web that would challenge even the most ardent publishing fan to navigate, with differing embargo periods and caveats at every turn. Further, Kevin shared the contradictions contained within the proposals amidst all the complexity, such as the ability to publish manuscripts on private websites but not institutional repositories – after all, the internet is not a series of boxes!
Depressing? Well, there are things we can do – key amongst those is to encourage organizations, such as our institutional libraries, to sign the COAR-SPARC Statement. Further, Elsevier have already made some changes in response to the wave of criticism from the academic community, so it is important our community engages with the arguments against what Kevin calls a ‘complicated and draconian’ policy.
Many thanks to Kevin Smith for taking the time to talk to the OpenCon Community, and we hope you can all join us for another engaging, fun hour with the OpenCon Call.
You can find a recording of the call embedded below, while the minutes can be found here.
This article, and the community call recording reflects the views of the author/participants(s) and not necessarily those of the Right to Research Coalition or SPARC.