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Towards a global knowledge commons

Growing support for statement against Elsevier policy

In the last two weeks, over 1600 individuals and organizations from 52 countries around the world have signed a statement opposing Elsevier’s new article sharing and hosting policy, underscoring that many in the scholarly community do not support the new policy.

The policy imposes unacceptably long embargo periods for making articles available, the vast majority of which range from 12 months to 4 years after publication. It also requires researchers to apply licenses that restrict the full re-use of articles.

This policy is in direct opposition to the trend towards encouraging greater access to and impact of research results. Research funders from around the world are adopting policies that ensure fast access, use and impact of research outputs. Most of these funders’ require open access to articles within 12 months of publication or less. Elsevier’s new policy limits the value and benefits that can be derived from publicly funded research.

Since the statement was published on May 20, 2015, public support has continued to grow, demonstrating the deep, global support for open access to research outputs.

COAR and SPARC renew our calls for Elsevier to revise their policy in order to better align with the interests of the research community and broader society.

3 thoughts on “Growing support for statement against Elsevier policy

  1. Hello Everyone –

    After a week of listening to, and conversing with, a number of researchers, librarians, and other stakeholders, we’ve honed in on the following points that seem to be causing the most confusion and angst. Our responses on each point are spread across comment threads and listservs, and I felt it might be helpful to post some key points here:

    1. Embargoes: These are neither new, nor unique, to Elsevier. Publishers require them because an appropriate amount of time is needed for subscription journals to deliver value to customers before the full-text becomes available for free. Confusion has arisen because we haven’t always enforced our embargos, preferring to work with Institutional Repositories (IRs) directly to develop institution-specific agreements. Our new policy eliminates the need for repositories to have agreements with us. Instead we are now communicating our embargoes more clearly.

    2. Embargo Lengths: Our embargo periods are typically between 12 and 24 months, with some longer or shorter exceptions. We are now hearing that it is the length of our embargo periods that is of concern rather than the fact of their existence. Generally embargos should be set on a title-by-title basis by publishers, however we recognize that other stakeholders seek influence over embargo lengths too and this is reasonable. We have already been planning a review of our embargo periods in 2015. While I cannot pre-judge the outcome of this review, we are very conscious of the many new funding body policies that have emerged in the last year with 12 month embargo periods all of which we will factor in.

    3. Author’s rights to self-archive in their IR: We have removed the need for an institution to have an agreement with us before any systematic posting can take place in its institutional repository. Authors may share accepted manuscripts immediately on their personal websites and blogs, and they can all immediately self-archive in their institutional repository too. We have added a new permission for repositories to use these accepted manuscripts immediately for internal uses and to support private sharing, and after an embargo period passes then manuscripts can be shared publicly as well.

    4. Retrospective Action: Based on helpful conversations over the last week we know we need to make it much more clear that we do not expect IRs and other non-commercial repositories to take retrospective action.

    5. New IR Services: We are developing protocols and technology to help non-commercial sites implement this policy going forward, and have been piloting tools and services to help automate this – for example tagged manuscripts and APIs with metadata and other information about articles published by researchers on your campuses. To register for more information or to express interest in participating in a pilot, please see this page.

    6. More clarity: Our new sharing and hosting policies are intended to provide clarity to researchers so that they understand how they can share their research, including on newer commercial sharing sites, and to lift the old requirement for IRs to have agreements with us.

    I have also uploaded a slide to slideshare showing the differences between our old and new policies (see, and continue to encourage you all to read these for yourselves (see

    We appreciate the feedback we have received, and wish to continue these discussions. We look forward to engaging with you – for example at the upcoming Open Repositories conference and at library conferences such as ALA. You can also always email me directly at

    With kind wishes,

    Dr Alicia Wise
    Director of Access & Policy

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