How Elsevier can save itself, part 2: Medium 2012-05-01


“It seems the world is conveniently arranging itself for the benefit of this occasional series.  Every time I am about to post an installment, something apposite happens out there.  Just as I was preparing part 0, Bernstein Research’s investment report Is Elsevier Heading for a Political Train-Wreck? came out; just before part 1, Elsevier decided that the solution to their problems was to hire a PR guy; and now, as I prepare part 2, America’s richest university says publicly that it can’t afford spiralling subscription fees any more. It’s not my intention to gloat, but the recent cascade of events must surely be giving Elsevier and other big barrier-based publishers pause for thought.  A trickle of outrage has swiftly grown into a tide.  That may become a tidal wave.  Real change is needed to avert disaster. Last time we looked at things that Elsevier should do right now, at no cost to itself: be explicit about terms of ‘sponsored articles’ and non-sponsored articles; make it trivially easy to find sponsored articles; stop lying about copyright transfer; root out and destroy stupid conditions. This time, we’ll go on to measures that probably will cost Elsevier something (though most likely not as much as they fear). [1] Change the ‘sponsored article’ license to CC-BY ... Springer’s Open Choice is their equivalent of Elsevier’s “sponsored articles“.  Except it’s not, because Springer’s version is true Budapest-compliant open access... by using a standard licence instead of writing their own terms, Springer tap into accumulated understanding of what CC BY means.  And by using that particular licence, they remove all doubt about what you are and aren’t able to do with such articles.  They’re freed to be used in any reasonable way, for the benefit of science. If someone pays Elsevier $3000 to sponsor an article, it’s been paid for.  There is no legitimate reason for Elsevier to take the copyright under such circumstances, and no reasonable expectation that they should be able to make more money by charging for any use of such an article.  Worse, this kind of action makes Elsevier look mercenary and works directly against the partnering-with-authors impression that they otherwise try to nurture. Special bonus: if Elsevier switch to the BOAI-compliant CC BY licence for such articles, they can stop weaseling around calling their scheme ‘sponsored articles’, and truthfully call the results open access.  And right now, Elsevier really, really needs to be able to say that it’s supporting open access... [2] Stop being obstructive about text-mining ... When you read a published paper — say, because your library has a subscription that allows you to — you process the information that it contains and use that in your own work.  Later on, you publish that work, and what you publish has benefitted from the facts that were in the papers you read.  This is called research, or sometimes “standing on the shoulders of giants”, and it’s how science is made... we have millions of papers to read instead of a handful.  Happily we have computers to do the reading for us, and in many fields they can extract important information such as use of taxonomic terms or chemical reactions.  This is called text-mining.  Just like when we read papers ourselves, text-mining extracts facts rather than their particular expression; and facts are not subject to copyright.  So it follows that anyone who has access to papers has the right to text-mine them. Unfortunately, Elsevier (like many other publishers) has a history of being obstructiveabout mining.  Even when they set out to help — and to give credit, they are making an effort — it’s of the form ‘We are keen to arrange a teleconference with you all to discuss ways to enable text mining for academics at Cambridge University’.  Which is a waste of everyone’s time: first, we want to be doing science, not making conference calls; second, it’s dumb to limit this negotiation process to one text-mining project at a time.  (Even Elsevier’s own Director of Universal Access, has commented that she worries that ‘she might be overwhelmed by requests from others who also want text mining access’... They should demonstrate their commitment to open science by laying down this simple principle: if it’s been paid for (by subscription or OA), you can let computers as well as people read the information. Again, what will this cost? ... Elsevier have managed to negotiate contracts with some customers where they pay extra for the privilege of mining, and they’d have to forego that revenue.  On the other hand, they’d be able to save a lot of money by not having to hold conference calls that involve six people at a time, including a vice president and three directors.  So overall this could even be a net financial win for Elsevier... [3] Dump the ‘you can self-archive unless mandated to’ rule ... Elsevier’s Article Posting Policies state: ‘Elsevier believes that individual authors should be able to distribute their AAMs for their personal voluntary needs and interests, e.g. posting to their websites or their institution’s r



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.licensing oa.mining oa.comment oa.mandates oa.usa oa.frpaa oa.legislation oa.rwa oa.nih oa.universities oa.advocacy oa.signatures oa.petitions oa.boycotts oa.elsevier oa.copyright oa.libraries oa.deposits oa.open_science oa.declarations oa.figshare oa.costs oa.librarians oa.boai oa.prices oa.hybrid oa.fees oa.harvard.u oa.budgets oa.genbank oa.definitions oa.colleges oa.digimorph oa.hei oa.libre oa.policies oa.repositories



Date tagged:

05/01/2012, 05:53

Date published:

04/27/2012, 16:37