Elsevier's self archiving policy announced

D Forsdyke forsdyke1 at home.com
Thu Nov 25 18:16:46 EST 1999

>From Donald Forsdyke. Discussion Leader. Bionet.journals.note

This is a follow up on my note to this group a few days ago. Elsevier
replied as follows when I asked whether the belated decision to allow me
to self-archive a paper in an Elsevier journal represented a general
change in Elsevier's policy:
At 08:51 AM 1999-11-25 -0000, you wrote:
Dear Dr Forsdyke
I am sorry that you felt that the process to grant you permission to
place your article on a publicly available Web site was lengthy.  Our
policy is, and has been for some time, that while we permit an
electronic preprint version of an article to remain on a Web site,
permission is required on a case-by-case basis to display the final
published version in this way.
    Since we coordinate requests for some 1200 different journals
through this office, and the Product Managers we need to consult may be
out of the office at international conferences, this process cannot
always be as speedy as we might wish.
    We do feel, however, that Elsevier's policy in this respect is very
liberal and I can quote you our policy statement in this respect:
Unlike some publishers, we do not consider that a preprint of an article
>>(including a prior version as a thesis) prior to its submission to Elsevier for consideration amounts to prior publication.  Prior publication disqualifies a work from consideration for re-publication in a journal.  Nor do we require that authors remove from publicly accessible servers (including the author's own home page) all electronic preprints once an article has been accepted for publication.
     Nonetheless, we do request that authors do not update public server
versions of their articles to be identical to the articles as published.
Author requests to post a published article on a public server will be
considered by Elsevier on a case-by-case basis.  Note that we have no
other restrictions about updating public server versions, just that they
should not be updated so as to mimic the article as published. 

    This position results from our concern for the integrity of the
scientific communication process and for competitive concerns.  
The scientific communication process revolves around the peer review
process and the question of what the scientific record is. Researchers
need to know when they obtain an Elsevier journal article that it is the
article as published, that is, as having been edited and peer reviewed
in conformity with the quality which the researcher associates with that
particular journal.  Having the article on an Elsevier server provides
the integrity seal of approval for researchers.  Permitting the same
article to be published elsewhere on public servers, with researchers
unsure about which version was actually peer reviewed, is confusing and
potentially harmful to science.

    Elsevier's competitive interest is to ensure that we can invest in
the technological resources for electronic distribution, to facilitate
the digitization of the material, linking and cross-referencing, and
easy access and searching.  Elsevier has made substantial investments in
such technologies over the past several years, and exclusivity with
respect to the electronic distribution of the article as published will
permit Elsevier to cover these costs and ensure a profit, which
ultimately means the success of such systems. 
      Fundamentally the point concerns the role of publisher.  The
publisher is responsible for registering and ensuring quality, and this
accreditation role continues to be of vital importance to science. 
While proposals are often made to change the dynamic of scientific
publishing, for example by conducting open peer review on public
servers, credible proposals have not been proven.

Please do not hesitate to contact me again if you have any other queries
or if I can provide you with further clarification of our policies.

With best wishes
Frances Rothwell (Mrs)
Subsidiary Rights Manager
Elsevier Science
Tel: 44-1865 843830
Fax: 44-1865 853333
e-mail: f.rothwell at elsevier.co.uk

Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 09:54:13 -0500
>To: "Rothwell, Frances (ELS)" <f.rothwell at elsevier.co.uk>
>From: Donald Forsdyke <forsdyke at post.queensu.ca>
>Subject: Re: Electronic policies
>In-Reply-To: <97A4BBFAC1B9D211B2620008C71EF881C21E74 at ELSOXFS12305>
Dear Ms. Rothwell,
                  Thank you for the clarification. You are on shaky
grounds maintaining that "Permitting the same article to be
published elsewhere on public servers, with researchers unsure about
which version was actually peer reviewed, is confusing and potentially
harmful to science." 

                  Everyone knows that the only definitive form is the
paper version which is widely distributed in thousands of versions as
part of a one-time publishing operation. 

                  Next to this, most researchers would accept the
publisher's electronic archive version, although this record might have
been interfered with subsequent to acceptance, or to initial posting in
the archive. However, this is unlikely since the publisher knows that
readers could check against the paper version. Furthermore, the original
posted version might have been downloaded by subscribers and could be
used to check that the publisher had not made subsequent changes to the
electronic form.

                   Everyone knows that the version to which the author
has access could be changed by the author in a way which would not be
obvious to the reader. In the case of one of my papers published in the
regular literature, the publishers placed a restriction on the number of
references. Thus, in my electronic version I added the deleted
references back again, but CLEARLY STATED that this was different from
the originally published paper version.

                   I appreciate that these are challenging times for the
publishing industry, but still feel that, if Academic Press with a
publishing empire no smaller than Elsevier's can respond promptly to
authors' requests, than Elsevier should be able to do likewise.

Donald Forsdyke
Discussion Leader. Bionet.journals.note

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