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Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Thu May 27 17:51:58 EST 2004

           ** Apologies for Cross-Posting **

Elsevier has just gone from being a Romeo "Pale-Green" publisher to a full 
Romeo Green publisher: Authors have the publisher's official green light to
self-archive both their pre-refereeing preprints and their refereed

Elsevier has thereby demonstrated that -- whatever its pricing policy
may be -- it is a publisher that has heeded the need and the expressed
desire of the research community for Open Access (OA) and its benefits to
research productivity and progress.

There will be the predictable cavils from the pedants and those who
have never understood the real meaning and nature of OA: "It's only the
final refereed draft, not the publisher's PDF," "It does not include
republishing rights," "Elsevier is still not an OA publisher."

I, for one, am prepared to stoutly defend Elsevier on all these counts,
and to say that one could not have asked for more, and that the full
benefits of OA require not one bit more -- from the publisher.

For now it's down to you, Dear Researchers! Elsevier (and History)
is hereafter fully within its rights to say:

    "If Open Access is truly as important to researchers as they claim it
    is -- indeed as 30,000+ signatories to the PLoS Open Letter attested
    that it was http://www.publiclibraryofscience.org/cgi-bin/plosSign.pl --
    then if researchers are not now ready to *provide* that Open Access,
    even when given the publisher's official green light to do so,
    then there is every reason to doubt that they mean (or even know)
    what they are saying when they clamour for Open Access."

Elsevier publishes 1,700+ journals. That means at least 200,000 articles
a year. Eprints.org will be carefully quantifying and tracking what
proportion of those 200,000 articles is made OA by their authors through
self-archiving across the next few months and years. Indeed we will be
monitoring all of the over 80% of journals sampled by Romeo that are
already green.

(The following Romeo summary stats are already out of date, because 1700
pale-green journals have now become bright green!
but we will soon catch up at: http://romeo.eprints.org/ [which is
under construction, waiting for full journal lists from each of the 93
publishers sampled so far].)

The OA ball is now clearly in the research community's court (not the
publishing community's, not the library community's). Let researchers
and their employers and funders now all rise to the occasion by
adopting and implementing institutional OA provision policies. Don't
just sign petitions for publishers to provide OA, but commit your own
institution to providing it:


Stevan Harnad

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