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

I appreciate Stevan's posting and David's raising the question about Cell
Press.  Cell Press has the same policy as Elsevier on post-print posting
of the author's final version.  Cell Press does not, however, permit
preprint posting and will not consider for publication papers that have
been previously posted on the Web.

And, in response to those who have asked about the new policy, we are
indeed working on getting all of the official information (Web site,
transfer forms, etc.) to be consistent with that policy.  We had
previously permitted posting with permission (and had routinely given
permission) but now no permission is required for posting the author's
final version.

Karen Hunter
Senior Vice President, Strategy

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2004 1:18 AM
From:  Stevan Harnad
To: David Goodman
Subject: Re: Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access

On Fri, 28 May 2004, David Goodman wrote:

> 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.

One can always prefer more. Free journals with all costs covered by a
generous subsidy from somewhere would be nice too. But Elsevier's green
self-archiving policy is all that it is *reasonable* for a scientist to
demand of a publisher today, in the interests of OA. More important, it is
all that is needed for 100% OA today. I, for one, would consider the
arrangement fully satisfactory till doomsday if the pre-refereeing
preprints and the refereed final drafts of all 2.5 million annual articles
in all 24,000 journals were all OA as of tomorrow. Nothing more would be
needed: Nothing.

> 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 authors may consider the
> preprint version close enough--or conceivably superior--to the changes
> imposed by the editor and peer-reviewer.

We are not talking here about the preprints only, or even mainly: The
announcement was that Elsevier had gone from pale-green (green light for
self-archiving pre-refereeing preprints self-archiving only) to fully
green (preprints and postprints). That was the target, and it is about
that that I repeat that nothing more is needed. Please let us not blur
that fact.


> 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.

This is not a small progressive move but *exactly* what every responsible
publisher, not setting its own interests over those of research and
researchers, would and should do: no more nor less. (Note that it has
nothing to do with pricing policy, and none of this should be taken as
pertaining to pricing policy in any way.)

> 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 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 do not think it is useful to make these rather cynical speculations
about Elsevier's motivation. I do not believe Elsevier went green just in
order to drum up more business; but if it does drum up more business -- or
forces the competition to do likewise -- so much the better. The more
green the better, because more green means more OA.

> 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.

Perhaps Karen Hunter could reply to clarify this.