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RE: Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving

I do not think any scientist would consider Elsevier's policy a fully
satisfactory permanent arrangement, and all would prefer that the edited
version from the publisher could be posted.

But it is not unreasonable to accept partial solutions for the time being,
on the realistic principle that it is better to get the material
disseminated in some fashion. This move does provide for the access to the
material in some form, especially considering that articles in some fields
are only lightly edited, and that some author may consider the preprint
version close enough--or conceivably superior--to the changes imposed by
the editor and peer-reviewer.

The move to open access journals also has less-than-satisfactory temporary
arrangements. Among such partial solutions are journals where all but the
last few months are openly available, or the widely-acclaimed PNAS policy
of letting the author pay extra for open access.

I can understand the excitement felt when Elsevier liberalizes its policy.  
Considering the size of the publisher and the amount of material affected,
there has been a tendency to accept all its progressive moves, however
small intrinsically, as major progress.

Elsevier's policy is a perfectly reasonable competitive move to encourage
authors to use its journals rather than those of other commercial
publishers, some of which do not yet allow postprints. It may also have
the have the effect of encouraging them to use Elsevier rather than
society journals (many of which do not allow posting at all), hoping to
balance the right to self-archive against the narrow distribution of some
of Elsevier's weaker titles.

I have been informed that Cell Press, arguably the portion of Elsevier
that has the strongest titles, does not have the same policy to pre- and
post-prints as the other Elsevier Science titles. I have not yet been able
to determine exactly how it differs.

It may, indeed be the case that in order to achieve the widest
dissemination we may have to be content with policies such as this for a
time. It may even be the case that the scientific world decides to ignore
the need for anything more than the basic presentation of ideas, and
accepts a self-prepared report as full publication. There are applied
fields where this has long been the case, and where semi-edited and
semi-peer-reviewed conference proceedings or technical reports form the
important literature.

Dr. David Goodman